Dr Emma Parker

Associate Professor (Reader) in Postwar and Contemporary Literature

Emma Parker



Dr Emma Parker is an Associate Professor in Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature, focusing on women’s writing, queer literature, gender and sexuality. She is also an expert on the playwright Joe Orton.

She was Co-Editor (with Professor Suzanne Keen) of the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing (Oxford University Press), 2012 – 2017, winner of the of Council of Editors of Learned Journals’ Award for Best New Journal (2009). The exhibition ‘Punk: Rage and Revolution’ (Leicester Museum and Art Gallery), which drew on her research, won the National Lottery Award for Heritage (England) in 2023. Emma has been shortlisted for a University of Leicester Citizens’ Award for Impact (2023) and received a University of Leicester Student Voice Award for Best Personal Tutor (2019); the University of Leicester Discovering Excellence Award for Equalities Champion (2018);  the East Midlands Women’s Award for Arts, Media and Music (2018); a Saboteur Award (2018) for her project


Topics covered in my work include:

  • feminism
  • queer
  • gender, sexuality, race and class
  • Thatcherism

I led the AHRC and Arts Council-funded project Joe Orton: 50 Years On (2014-2020), which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Orton's three major plays and his death in 1967. This includes Yours Faithfully, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs), a collaboration with film-maker Chris Shepherd and winner of a Saboteur Award (2018).


  • Contributor and Ambassador, ‘Punk: Rage and Revolution’, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, 27 May - 3 September, 2023.
  • Consultant, ‘Mind the Gap: LGBT Mental Health’, Beautiful Distress House, Amsterdam, 10 March – 21 May, 2023.
  • Co-curator, 'What the Artist Saw: Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton' (with Michael Petry), Museum of Contemporary Art, London (5 February - 4 March 2017) and New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester (29 July - 22 October 2017)
  • Co-curator, ‘Crimes of Passion: The Story of Joe Orton’ (with Bev Baker), National Justice Museum, Nottingham (22 July - 1 October 2017), which won a Special Commendation at the Nottinghamshire Heritage Awards (2018). 

I have interviewed the following writers, actors and directors about Joe Orton: Alec Baldwin, Frances Barber, Kenneth Cranham, Dudley Sutton, Jake Arnott, Graham Fellows (aka John Shuttleworth), Braham Murray, Michael Elwyn and Nick Bagnall.

Read my essay on Loot

Explore my close reading of the opening pages of Loot on the British Library's Discovering Literature page 


  • Co-editor, with Mary Eagleton, The History of British Women's Writing, 1970-Present (Palgrave, 2015), 'indispensable' (Elaine Showalter); 'the key companion text for anyone studying women's studies, women's writing, contemporary culture and writing' (Patricia Waugh).
  • Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane, 50th anniversary edition (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2014).
  • Guest Editor, Textual Practice 25.4 (August 2011), special issue on Contemporary Women's Writing and Queer Diasporas.
  • Guest Editor, Contemporary Women's Writing 3.1 (June 2009), special issue on Diaspora.
  • Editor, Contemporary British Women Writers. Essays and Studies Vol. 56. (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004).
  • Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum: A Reader's Guide (London: Continuum, 2002).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘Heart in the Right Place: Thatcherism and Love in Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion’, Contemporary Women’s Writing 16.3 (2022), pp. 305-323
  • 'A Comedy of Horrors: Thatcherism in What a Carve Up!' in Jonathan Coe: Contemporary British Satire, ed Philip Tew (Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 67-79
  • Joe Orton and Shakespeare: Collage, Class and Queerness', Studies in Theatre and Performance, special issue on Joe Orton, 37.2, Summer 2017, pp. 237-268.
  • 'A Queer Ear: Joe Orton and Music’, Art & Music, Spring 2017, no. 37 special issue: The Life and Times of Joe Orton, pp. 44-48
  • 'Queers, Gals, Chaps, Chicks, and Lads' in The Oxford History of the Novel, Vol. 7, British and Irish Fiction Since 1940, eds. Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette (Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 328-346
  • 'Re-Envisioning Feminist Fiction' in The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction Since 1945, ed. David James (Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 79-94
  • 'Contemporary Lesbian Fiction: Into the Twenty-First Century' in The Cambridge Companion to Lesbian Literature, ed. Jodi Medd (Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 204-218
  • 'Introduction' (co-authored with Mary Eagleton), The History of British Women's Writing, 1970-Present (Palgrave, 2015), pp. 1-20
  • 'Male Pregnancy and Queer Utopia in Paul Magrs's Could it be Magic?', Textual Practice 28.6 (2014), pp. 1035-1056
  • 'Introduction', Joe Orton, Entertaining Mr Sloane (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2014), pp. 1-25
  • 'An Interview with Nick Bagnall', Joe Orton, Entertaining Mr Sloane (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2014), pp. 27-33


I have externally examined 11 PhDs: Brunel, 2020; Melbourne, 2019; Southampton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, 2016; Durham, 2012; Stirling, 2011; Swansea, 2010 and 2008; Loughborough, 2007; and Sheffield Hallam, 2003.

I have supervised 12 PhD dissertations to successful completion on topics such as Experimental Women’s Life Writing, Doris Lessing, Sarah Waters, Margaret Walker, American women's science fiction, queer South Asian fiction, Biblical revisionism in contemporary women's writing, the single woman in the 1950s, women in Saudi Arabia and gender in comics.




Press and media

  • BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ on the 40th anniversary of Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, 13 October, 2022
  • BBC Radio 4 'Front Row' on 'A Queer Ear: Joe Orton and Music', 23 April 2019 (podcast, starting at 21:40)
  • BBC Radio 4 'Front Row' special on Joe Orton, 11 August 2017
  • Consultant, The Secret Diary of Sue Townsend (Aged 68 3/4), BBC Two, 15 October, 2016. Winner of the RTS Scotland award for best Documentary and Specialist Factual 2017
  • BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ on Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, 22 August, 2014
  • BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’, on pregnant men, 4 August, 2009


  • BA, University of Birmingham
  • PhD, University of Birmingham
  • Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy
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