Dr Sarah Kennedy
Fellow in English

BA (Melbourne), LLB (Melbourne), PhD

I am a Fellow, Development Ambassador, and Director of Studies for English Part I at Downing.  I completed my BA (Hons.) and LLB (Hons.) at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and my PhD at St John's College, Cambridge.

My research interests fall within twentieth-century and contemporary Anglophone poetry, and include early and high modernism, metaphor, nature-writing, the pelagic imaginary, literary self-conception, originality, and allusion. I am especially intrigued by questions of poetic influence and the literary afterlives of poets.  I am also interested in the postcolonial literatures of the Pacific, including Aotearoa/new Zealand and Australia, and in trans-regional encounters between these literatures and modernist diasporas.

I teach for Part I, Papers I (Practical Criticism and Critical Practice), and 7b (English Literature and its Contexts 1870-the present); and for Part II, Papers (Practical Criticism and Critical Practice) and 13 (Postcolonial and Related Literatures in English).  I have supervised dissertations on (inter alia) Djuna Barnes, Keri Hulme, Witi Ihimaera, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Claude Mackay, Evelyn Waugh, Patrick White, and Virginia Woolf.

My book on T. S. Eliot (forthcoming, 2017) follows in the tradition of histories of the Romantic and Victorian poetics of originality, but focuses on the twentieth-century legacy of those histories and their interrelation with parallel fields of knowledge. It charts the relations between metaphor and creativity in T. S. Eliot's poetry and criticism through their affinities with discursive developments in 'new physics', optics, colour theory, psychology, and anthropology.

I am currently writing a monograph exploring metaphor as the active principle underlying the processes of transmission and assimilation (as well as the vertical pressure of literary influence) that generate creative tensions within the work of three exemplary mid-century poets: Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop and Judith Wright. 


T.S. Eliot and the Dynamic Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), forthcoming.

Chapters and Articles

'Elizabeth Bishop's Fugitive Empathy', in Elizabeth Bishop & Contemporary Poetry, ed. Jonathan Ellis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), forthcoming.

‘Let these words answer: Ash-Wednesday and the Ariel Poems’, in The New Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. Jason Harding (Cambridge: CUP, 2016).
'“Where’s home, Ulysses?” Judith Wright in Europe 1937', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, published online before print August 6, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0021989415589833.
‘The “unknown, remembered gate”: Four Quartets as spiritual biography’, Literature  & Aesthetics 18 (1) June 2008, 84-97.