Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Charlotte Spear

Thesis Working Title

Locating the Human: World-Literature and the Concept of Rights


Charlotte is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick. Her research explores how peripheral literatures intervene in dominant human rights discourses. Working at the intersection of world-literature, environmental humanities and disaster studies, her project is animated by three key questions:

  1. How does the (semi-)peripheral novel register the impact of human rights discourses and practices?
  2. How does it interrogate the concept of ‘inalienable rights’ at a bodily level?
  3. How do our understandings of human rights discourses and practices change when confronted with a spatialised textual embodiment questioning the very notion of humanity?

Her PhD is supervised by Prof. Paulo de Medeiros and Dr. Mike Niblett, with support from Prof. Pablo Mukherjee.

Research Interests

World-Literature, Human Rights Literature, Environmental Humanities, Critical Legal Studies, Critical Theory


Apr 2024: "'What Will Set Yuh Free is Money': Sex Work, Debt, and the Dynamics of Exploitation in Here Comes the Sun and The Immortals", Journal of World-Systems Research, April 2024,

Mar 2024: "Crisis and the Postcolonial State: Human Rights and Contemporary Emergency", Postcolonial Theory and Crisis, Eds. Paulo de Medeiros and Sandra Ponzanesi, De Gruyter, March 2024. opens in a new window.

Jan 2024: "Refugee Fiction as World-Literature: Rethinking Registration in the Contemporary Refugee Novel", Journal of Postcolonial Writing, January 2024,

Jan 2023: "'Though they have eyes [they] cannot see’: Political Blindness, Contemporary Literature and the Legibility of Crisis", MLR 118.1. January 2023, 

Conference Papers

Sep 2023: “Deconstructing the figure of the “Genuine Refugee”: The (Extra-)Legal Mediation of Refugeehood, Ocean Politics and EU “Sanctuary””, Critical Legal Conference, University of Durham

Jul 2023: “Colonial Hauntologies in Postcolonial Algeria: Assia Djebar’s Algerian White and Algeria’s Haunted Future, The Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture Future/Futures, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Jun 2023: “Examining the Invisible: Aesthetics of Rights and Responsibility”, The Aesthetics of Rights and Wrongs, University of South-Eastern Norway

Jun 2023: ““Unimagined Communities” and Re-Imagined Justice in Louise Erdrich’s The Round House”, Methodologies for Imagining an Alternative Politics of (Human) Rights, London School of Economics UK

Mar 2023: “The Intertwined Aesthetics of Invisibility and Responsibility in Tram 83ACLA 2023, Chicago US

Nov 2022: "The Literature of Post-Disaster Reconstruction: Haiti and Narratives of Re-Imagination", British Comparative Literature Association PG and ECR Conference: New Pathways inComparative and World Literature, Queens University Belfast

June 2022: “Defining a Space for Women’s Rights: World-Literature and the Aesthetics of Combined Unevenness”, Women in World(-)Literature, University of Warwick

May 2022: "Where is the “post” in “postcolonial”? Human rights in the “Age of Crisis”", Warwick English Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick

May 2022: "‘This is a dead place, a place for dying’: Petrofictions and the Aesthetics of Human Rights Activism", Adversity and Creativity: African Literature, Film, Media and Public Discourse, African Literature Association

May 2021: “Rethinking Registration: Reading the Modern World-System through the Contemporary Refugee Novel”, Regeneration, University of Glasgow

Event Organisation
  • Co-Organiser (with Dr. Illan Wall), "Speculations on Territory, Territorialisation and Reterritorialisation", stream at the Critical Legal Conference 2024, 16th-18th September 2024, Lund University
  • Co-Organiser, "The British Comparative Literature Association Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Conference: Spectres, Spectrums and Spectrality: New and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Comparative and World Literature", 12th-13th October 2023, University of Warwick
  • Co-Organiser, "Territorial Bodies: World Culture in Crisis", funded by the HRC Doctoral Fellowship, 25th February 2023, University of Warwick
  • Co-Organiser, 17th Annual PG Symposium, a one-day conference showcasing the work of the University of Warwick's postgraduates in English and Comparative Literary Studies and related disciplines, 2nd June 2021, University of Warwick

BA (Hons), English Literature (University of Warwick)

MA (Distinction), World Literature (University of Warwick)


Council for British Research in the Levant, Master's Dissertation Prize in Contemporary Levantine Studies, 2021. "I have drastically changed while you were reading. And so have you": Arab Women's Literature as Transformative Sexual Agency"

PhD Student, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, funded by AHRC-M4C