Dr Janine Bradbury

Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead

School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

E: j.bradbury@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 01904 876122

Dr Janine Bradbury

BA (Hons) American Studies - The University of Sheffield (First Class)
MA (Research Track) American Literature - The University of Sheffield (Distinction; Recipient of The Arthur Markham Prize)
PhD in English Literature, The University of Sheffield

I am an interdisciplinary specialist in African American literature and American popular culture. I joined York St John in 2013 and I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017. I’ve always had a passion and enthusiasm for American popular culture and that inspired me to pursue my undergraduate degree in American Studies in the early 2000s. I hold a First Class BA (Hons) in American Studies, an MA (Distinction) in American Literature, and a PhD in literature from the University of Sheffield. I am also an alumna of The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (study abroad 2004/5) where I specialised in American literature and African American studies.

I’m passionate about the transformative power of literacy and education and I have a professional background in widening participation and equality and diversity work. My writing has been published by The Guardian and I have been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. In 2013 I was appointed to The Runnymede Trust’s Emerging Scholars Forum, which brought together 30 of the UK’s brightest and most promising early-career academics working on race. Before joining York St John, I was a teaching associate and project officer at The University of Sheffield and provided American literature courses for adult learners through the Workers Education Association.

Further Information


I contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching on the English Literature and American Studies programmes. I am also the Learning and Teaching Lead for the School of Humanities, Religion, and Philosophy. I teach and direct across a wide variety of modules including:

  • 1EN601: Writing, Research and Literature
  • 1AS203: Introduction to American Literature
  • 1EN603: Theorising Literature: Power and Identity
  • 2EN605: From Harlem to Hip-Hop: African American Literature and Culture
  • 3EN290: Gender and Sexualities
  • MAS004: Alternative Americas


My research explores race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary African American literature and American popular culture. I’m especially interested in the performative and writerly processes involved in constructing, pluralising, queering, and destabilising notions of blackness, whiteness, masculinity, and femininity (including passing and drag). I am currently preparing my first book, Contemporary African American Women Writers and Passing (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan, New York). This monograph explores contemporary re-imaginings of racial passing in the work of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Dorothy West, and Gloria Naylor (among others). My work on pro-wrestling, African American comedy, and the singer, model, and performer Grace Jones has been published in edited collections.

I welcome enquires from PhD applicants interested in writing on representations of race/gender/sexuality in African American literature or popular culture – please do get in touch!



Bradbury, Janine. Contemporary African American Women Writers and Passing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, (under contract).

Book Chapters

Bradbury, Janine. “Grace Jones: Cyborg Memoirist.” Music/Memory/Memoir. Eds. Robert Edgar, Fraser Mann, Helen Pleasance. New York: Bloomsbury, (forthcoming).

Bradbury, Janine. “Parodying Racial Passing in Chappelle’s Show and Key & Peele.” Comedy and the Politics of Representation: Mocking the Weak. Eds. Helen Davis and Sarah Illot. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Bradbury, Janine. “Grappling and Ga(y)zing: Gender, Sexuality, and Performance in the WWE Debut of Goldust.” Performance and Pro Wrestling. Eds. Broderick Chow, Laine Eero, Claire Warden. London: Routledge, 2016.

Bradbury, Janine. “Critical Reception: Zora Neale Hurston and the Paradox of Patronage.” Critical Insights: Zora Neale Hurston. Ed. Sharon Lynette Jones. Ipswich: Salem Press, 2013.

Book Reviews

Review: “Paul C. Rosenblatt, The Impact of Racism on African American Families: Literature as Social Science (Surrey: Ashgate, 2014).” LSE Review of Books [Online] 2014

Review: “La Vinia Delois Jennings, Toni Morrison and The Idea of Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).” Journal of American Studies 43:2 (2009).

Review: “Chad Dell, The Revenge of Hatpin Mary: Women, Professional Wrestling and Fan Culture in the 1950s (New York: Peter Lang, 2006) American Studies Today [Online] 2010.

Review: Dawne Y. Curry, Eric D. Duke, and Marshanda A. Smith (eds.) Extending the Diaspora: New Histories of Black People, (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2009) in Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 11:4 (2010)

Selected Conference Papers

Conference paper: "Passing Amid Protest: Imitation of Life, One Life to Live, and Passing Narratives in 1968.” The Joint 32nd European Association for American Studies & 63rd British Association for American Studies Conference. Kings College London, April 2018.

Keynote lecture: “Race, Place, Grace.” York St John MA Student Symposium, York St John University, June 2016.

Conference paper: “Beyond the Passing-For-White Figure in Post-Black Comedy.” Race in the Americas (RITA) Seminar Series (Passing and Colourism), University of Leeds, March 2014.

Invited Speaker: “Using African American Literature in BME Widening Participation.” HEA Sponsored Event - Teaching African American Literature and Culture, University of Durham, January 2014

Invited Speaker: “Breaking into the Academy.” Runnymede Trust – Race and HE Seminar, University of Manchester, October 2013.

Invited Speaker: “Using Pedagogy to Celebrate Diversity.” Critical Pedagogies Conference University of Edinburgh, September 2013.

Selected Public Engagement and Media

Panel Discussion: “Why is my curriculum white?” Broaden My Bookshelf/Black History Month, The University of Huddersfield, October 2018.

Media: “Passing for white”: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege." The Guardian. August 2018.

Panel Discussion: “Performance and Professional Wrestling.” [Panel Discussion] Everybody’s Reading Festival, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, 2017.

Events: Black History Month (2012 – present): I have been actively engaged in Black History Month events in the Yorkshire region for some time now and have organised film screenings, produced films, contributed to panel discussions, liaised with local arts organisations, engaged with local policy makers and politicians, and worked with schoolchildren. 

Radio:Book at Bedtime: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.” BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, July 2013 (interviewed by Jenni Murray).     

Newspaper:Black, female, and postgraduate: why I cannot be the only one.” The Guardian, May 2013.

You Tube/Blog:We Are Feminists: Black Feminism at The University of Sheffield: A Beginners Guide.” May 2012.

BBC Radio Four: Woman’s Hour (2013)

The Guardian: ‘Black, Female and Postgraduate’ (2013)

School of English Blog: Black Feminism at The University of Sheffield (2013)

You Tube: Researchers’ Night 2012 and We Are Feminists

ItunesU: We Are Feminists

The Sheffield Star: Black History Month Coverage 2012 (October 2012)

IamYaaya: ‘Against The Grain’ (A three part interview)

Professional Activities and Memberships

  • School Learning and Teaching Lead

  • British Association of American Studies

  • Professional Wrestling Studies Association

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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