Current Students

Helen King

  • Children’s Literature Unit, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University
  • Email:

Please describe your PhD research here, with a view to a wide external (non-academic) audience.

My thesis is provisionally titled: ‘The Other Side of Truth: Agency, Representation and Belonging in Beverley Naidoo’s Refugee Narratives’, and will form the outcome of a Collaborative Doctoral Award with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. Children’s literature has the potential either contribute or provide a powerful counternarrative to the dehumanising popular discourses about refugees that have arisen at this time of global refugee crisis. A writer of children’s fiction, depicting displaced children in West African, apartheid South Africa and the UK, Beverley Naidoo is in ideal subject for a case study examining this potential. Using Naidoo’s fiction and her archive at Seven Stories, I will use a postcolonial critical approach to interrogate her representations of refugee voices, agency and the tensions between belonging and alienation for child refugees in the UK. In so doing, I hope to illuminate how children’s literature can both generate empathy and encourage creative activism in young readers. This research will create opportunities for public engagement alongside the Seven Stories CLE team, using refugee narratives to open up discussions with young people about what it means to be a displaced person in the UK.

Supervisory Team: Dr Lucy Pearson, English Literature (Newcastle), Dr Kyle Grayson, Politics (Newcastle), John Coburn, (Seven Stories).

Start Date: October 2018