SOAS University of London

Centre for English Studies, School of Arts

Dr Sarah Pett

BA Hons (Cantab); MA (Rhodes); PhD (York)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Sarah Pett
Centre for English Studies

Lecturer in English

Dr Sarah Pett
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4384
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
By email appointment


Dr Sarah Pett is a graduate of Cambridge and the university currently known as Rhodes, where she was a Leverhulme Study Abroad Scholar. She completed her PhD at York in 2014, under the supervision of Professor Derek Attridge, during which time she also held the position of visiting researcher at the University of Cape Town as part of the World Universities Network Researcher Mobility scheme. Her research interests focus on modern and contemporary Anglophone literature, the medical humanities, and South African studies. She has published on the fiction of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Achmat Dangor, and on Virginia Woolf's groundbreaking essay "On Being Ill" (forthcoming), and is currently in the process of completing her first monograph, Invalid Texts: Illness and Contemporary Literature.Along with colleagues at Liverpool and York, she also co-edited a special issue of open-access journal Postcolonial Text, entitled "The Parapostcolonial: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and New Approaches."

Sarah is a staunch advocate for inclusive curricula and widening participation, and has written and presented extensively on these issues on her blog, as well as for The Conversation and for University English.

Office Hours

During term time, Sarah's office hours are 11.30-12.30 on Thursdays and 14.00-15.00 on Fridays. Please note: there are no office hours during Reading Week (Week 6) or in Term 3. You can book a ten minute slot during these times via Youcanbookme - students who have booked in will be given preference, otherwise you will be seen on a first come-first served basis. If you are unable to make either of these times, please email Sarah directly to arrange an alternative.



Sarah is currently completing her first monograph, Invalid Texts: Illness and Contemporary Literature. Based on her doctoral research, this study examines illness in contemporary fiction and autobiography from Britain, South Africa, and the United States, and casts a critical lens over the interpretive approaches to illness that currently dominate the medical humanities and literary studies. 

Her next book project, Beyond Metaphor: Reading Illness and Disability in Modern and Contemporary Literature, builds on this work. Using an innovative comparative approach influenced by Edward Said's notion of 'contrapuntal reading,' it shows how illness and disability have come to act as central tropes in the work of writers as diverse as Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Derek Walcott, Ralph Ellison, and JM Coetzee. In doing so, it not only asks readers to attend more closely to the intricate intertextual conversations that have shaped modern and contemporary literature, but also to reconsider the roles that illness and disability have come to play in this literature.  

Sarah's secondary research activity focuses on South African literary and cultural studies and pedagogical theory and practice. She is also increasingly interested in the interface between personal identity, critical practice, and creative writing. 



Pett, Sarah (2019) 'Rash Reading: Rethinking Virginia Woolf's On Being Ill'. Literature and Medicine, (37) 1, pp 26-66.

Bocking-Welch, Anna and Hesse, Isabelle and Pett, Sarah (2014) 'The Parapostcolonial: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and New Approaches'. Postcolonial Text, (9) 4.

Pett, Sarah (2007) '(Re)writing the black feminist text:a comparative study of Zora Neale Hurston's Their eyes were watching god and Achmat Dangor's The Z Town trilogy'. Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa, (12) 2, pp 96-106.

Edited Books or Journals

Pett, Sarah and Bocking-Welch, Anna and Hesse, Isabelle, (eds.), (2014) Postcolonial Text 9.4. Special Issue: The Parapostcolonial: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and New Approaches. London: Open Humanities Press.

Book Reviews

Pett, Sarah (2015) 'Review of: Accented Futures: Language Activism and the Ending of Apartheid by Carli Coetzee. Wits University Press, 2013.'. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, (85) 4, pp 190-192.


This list was last generated on Monday, 28th September 2020, 23:34 Europe/London.