Stephanie Newell

Stephanie Newell's picture
Professor of English

Ph.D., University of Birmingham

My research focuses on the public sphere in colonial West Africa and issues of gender, sexuality, and power as articulated through popular print cultures, including newspapers, pamphlets, posters, and magazines. I study how local intellectuals–ranging from school leavers to nationalist leaders–debated moral and political issues through the medium of print. I am especially interested in the cultural histories of printing and reading in Africa, and the spaces for local creativity and subversive resistance in colonial-era newspapers. My recent research project, “The Cultural Politics of Dirt in Africa, 1880-present,” positions these interests in an interdisciplinary and comparative historical perspective, and includes the study of popular discourses about dirt in Nairobi and Lagos in relation to changing ideas about taste and disgust, sexuality, multiculturalism, and urbanization.

Selected Publications

- Ghanaian Popular Fiction: ‘Thrilling Discoveries in Conjugal Life’, Oxford and Ohio: James Currey and Ohio University Press, 2000.

- Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana, Manchester and Indiana: Manchester U. P. and Indiana U.P, 2002.

- West African Literatures: Ways of Reading, Oxford Postcolonial Studies Series, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

- The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2006.

- The Power to Name: A History of Anonymity in Colonial West Africa. Ohio University Press, October 2013 (Finalist for the Herskovits Award, 2014).

- Histories of Dirt in West Africa: Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos (Duke University Press, forthcoming, Summer 2019).

Recent Book Chapters

- ‘West African Literature,’ The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction, ed. Brian Shaffer. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

- ‘African Popular Literature and the Postcolonial Literary Imagination,’ The History of Postcolonial Literature, ed. Ato Quayson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 106-23, 2012.

- ‘Remembering J. M. Stuart-Young of Onitsha, Colonial Nigeria,’ Onitsha at the Millenium, ed. Uwecha Nzegwu. New York: Africa Resource Press, pp. 221-233, 2013.

- ‘African Literary Histories and History in African Literatures,’ Oxford Companion to Modern African History, eds. Richard Reid and John Parker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 475-491, 2013.

- Karin Barber & Stephanie Newell, ‘Speaking Out: Dissent and Creativity in the Colonial Era and Beyond,’ West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song, eds. Gus Casely-Hayford, Janet Topp-Fargion and Marion Wallace, London: The British Library, pp. 100-131, 2015.

- ‘Dirty Familiars: Colonial Encounters in African Cities,’ Global Garbage: Urban Imaginaries of Excess, Waste and Abandonment in the Contemporary City, eds. Christoph Lindner and Miriam Meissner. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 44-64, 2015.

- ‘From Corpse to Corpus: The Printing of Death in Colonial West Africa,’ African Print Cultures, eds. Derek Peterson et al., Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, pp. 389-424, 2016.

- ‘Afterword,’ African Print Cultures, eds. Derek Peterson et al., Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, pp. 425-433, 2016.

- ‘Researching the Cultural Politics of Dirt in Lagos,’ Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities: Undisciplined Approaches to the Global South, eds. Shalini Puri and Debra A. Castillo, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 193-211, 2016.

- Stephanie Newell et al., ‘Dirty Methods as Ethical Methods? In the Field with “The Cultural Politics of Dirt in Africa, 1880-present”.’ Routledge International Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods, eds. Celia Lury et al. London and NY: Routledge, 2018, pp. 248-265.

- ‘Narrative,’ in Critical Terms for the Study of Africa, eds. Guarav Desai and Adeline Masquelier. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2018, pp. 245-259.

Recent Articles

- ‘Local Cosmopolitans in Colonial West Africa,’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 103-117, 2011.

- ‘Articulating Empire: Newspaper Readerships in Colonial West Africa,’ New Formations, Vol. 73, pp. 26-42, 2011.

- ‘Paradoxes of Press Freedom in Colonial West Africa,’ Journal of Media History, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 101-112, 2016.

- ‘Life Writing in the Colonial Archives: The Case of Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-96) of Colonial Nigeria’, Life Writing, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 307-321, 2016.

- ‘The Last Laugh: African Audience Responses to Colonial Health Propaganda Films,’ Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, Vol. 4, No.3, pp. 347-361, 2017.

- ‘Screening Dirt: Colonial Film Audiences and the Problem of Spectatorship,’ Social Dynamics (7,500 words), Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 6-20, 2018.

- ‘Introduction: Interview with Henri Ofori,’ Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora (1,600 words), forthcoming 2018.


South African Writing After Apartheid (Freshman Seminar); Postcolonial World Literatures, 1945-present (Junior Seminar); Contemporary African Fiction: Challenges to Realism (Senior Seminar); African Urban Cultures: Mediations of the City (Graduate Seminar).