Professor Corinne Fowler

Professor of Colonialism and Heritage

Profile

Corinne Fowler is Professor of Colonialism and Heritage. She specialises in colonial history, decolonisation and the British countryside’s relationship to Empire. Her most recent book is Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections Peepal Tree Press, 2020). Her forthcoming book is The Countryside: Ten Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin Allen Lane, 2023).

Corinne is co-investigator of the Rural Racism Project with Professor Neil Chakraborti and Dr Amy Clarke from the Centre for Hate Studies.

Corinne is also co-investigator on the AHRC project 'Addressing the Histories and Legacies of Empire in Literary House Museums: Dove Cottage and Beyond', which brings together academics, consultants, stakeholders and community groups to investigate the colonial links of Romantic-period literary house museums, using Wordsworth Grasmere as an initial focus. 

Professor Fowler directed a child-led history and writing project called Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted (2018-2022, Heritage Lottery and Arts Council). This project was widely covered by the media, including on BBC Radio 4 Front Row, Derby: 300 Years of Making and on ITV News, A Place In The Country: Part 2 - Slave trade legacies | ITV News Central. In 2020 Corinne co-authored an audit of peer-reviewed research about National Trust properties’ connections to empire Colonialism and historic slavery report | National Trust. The report won the Museums and Heritage Special Recognition Award in 2022.

Professor Fowler’s work with the National Trust attracted intense media coverage. There have been over 200 national newspaper articles on the report including in the BBC The National Trust homes where colonial links are 'umbilical' - BBC News, the Guardian I've been unfairly targeted, says academic at heart of National Trust 'woke' row | The National Trust | The Guardian, the Observer, the Telegraph, the Times, the Financial Times, the Express and Mirror. Corinne’s book Green Unpleasant Land was featured in BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed, The Rural Idyll?, BBC Radio 3 New Thinking BBC Radio 3 - Arts & Ideas, New Thinking: Places of Poetry & The Colonial Countryside Project and the New Yorker Britain’s Idyllic Country Houses Reveal a Darker History | The New Yorker. Corinne has also written articles for BBC History Magazine and the Telegraph Let’s not weaponise history: let’s talk about shared histories across generations, cultures and political divides (telegraph.co.uk) to make the case for incorporating colonial history into accounts of British heritage sites. She is regularly interviewed for local and national radio including for James O Brian’s Full Disclosure podcast on LBC Radio Professor Corinne Fowler – Full Disclosure with James O'Brien (uk-podcasts.co.uk). Professor Fowler regularly advises institutions on approaches to decolonisation, sensitive histories and the Culture Wars. She receives frequent speaking invitations and has gained an international platform from which she continues to promote compassionate and collective explorations of sensitive histories across cultures, generations and political divides.

Corinne is represented by Emma Bal at Madeleine Milburn agency.

Research

Professor Corinne Fowler is an expert in the histories and legacies of colonialism to heritage and to representations of heritage sites, British history and rural places. She created ‘Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted’, a child-led history and writing project funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Steered by expert historians and underpinned by historical evidence, project pupils visited ten National Trust properties and produced exhibitions What a World! A creative look at Penrhyn's collection and the culture of colonialism | National Trust about their colonial histories. They also highlighted the African and Asian rural presence during the times of Empire. The project also co-produced a free online course called Country Houses and the British Empire Country Houses and the British Empire - Online Course - FutureLearn.

In 2019, Corinne was seconded to the National Trust to help lay the foundations for new approaches to training, interpretation and programming about country houses’ colonial connections. As part of this secondment she co-authored the National Trust report on its properties’ many links to colonial histories. The report Colonialism and historic slavery report | National Trust was an audit of peer-reviewed historical research by projects such as the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership and the East India Company at Home.

Corinne’s published work focuses mainly on British country estates, large-scale land-owners and colonial figures as well as colonized, enslaved, labouring and landless people in Britain and overseas. Corinne has also investigated the historical Black presence in the countryside and heritage sites. Corinne co-founded and directed the university’s Centre for New Writing. She regularly commissions creative writing for Museums and Heritage organisations. Her most recent book is Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections, Peepal Tree Press, 2020, which demonstrates how Black and Asian Britons have reshaped rural writing and perceptions of the countryside and addresses the topic of rural racism. Her next book is The Countryside: Ten Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin Allen Lane, 2023). Based on recent archival research, this book explores the unique colonial histories of ten local places in England, Wales and Scotland. Her companions on these walks were ten people with ancestral connections to empire, including Sathnam Sanghera, author of Empireland and Ingrid Pollard, shortlisted for the 2022 Turner Prize.

Publications

Books

The Countryside: Ten Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin Allen Lane, 2023)

Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections (Peepal Tree Press, 2020)

Postcolonial Manchester: Diaspora Space and the Devolution of Literary Culture (Manchester University Press, 2013), with Lynne Pearce

Co-editor, with Charles Forsdick and Ludmilla Kostova, Travel Writing and Ethics. Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2013)

Migration Stories ed. by Corinne Fowler, Muli Amaye and Martin de Mello (Crocus Books, 2009)

Chasing Tales. Travel Writing, Journalism and the History of British Ideas about Afghanistan (Rodopi, 2007)

Articles

'Revisiting Mansfield Park: The Critical and Literary Legacies of Edward W. Said's Essay 'Jane Austen and Empire' in Culture and Imperialism (1993)', Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 3.2 (2017): 362-381

'The Rural Turn in Contemporary Writing by Black and Asian Britons', Interventions 19.3 (2016): 395-415

'The Poetics and Politics of Spoken Word Poetry' in The Cambridge Companion to Black British Writing, ed. Deirdre Osborne (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

'Travel and Ethics' in The Routledge Companion to Travel Writing, ed. Carl Thompson (Routledge, 2015)

'Carers Cruising Cumbria and Meals on the Mile: Migrants in Fieldwork and Fiction', Mobilities 7.2 (2012): 295-315, with Sondra Cuban

'Fiction and Affect: Anglophone Travel Writing and the Case of Paraguay' in Travel Writing and Ethics. Theory and Practice, ed. Charles Forsdick, Corinne Fowler and Ludmilla Kostova (Routledge, 2012)

Supervision

I currently supervise students investigating heritage sites, rural spaces, rural writing and representations of the countryside as well as Britain’s eighteenth and nineteenth-century Black and Asian presence.

I welcome PhD enquiries from students with an interest in colonialism, heritage sites and Empire, decolonisation, literary house museums, rural museums, the countryside and representations of collections and heritage sites.

Teaching

Emphasising collaboration, I contribute to teaching on the School’s campus based and distance learning programmes.

Press and media

'Project to link Stately homes to Caribbean' radio spot on BBC Radio Leicester (27 March 2018)

'Was Emily Bront—Ď’s Heathcliff black?' The Conversation (25 October 2017)

Qualifications

BA MA, University of Leeds

PhD, University of Stirling

PGCE teaching qualification (Secondary)

Media enquiries

Get in touch for media enquiries, expert opinion, interviews, images or video.

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