Alison Donnell is an academic, originally from the United Kingdom. She is Professor of Modern Literatures and Head of the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She was previously Head of School of Literature and Languages at the University of Reading, where she also founded the research theme "Minority Identities: Rights and Representations". Her primary research field is anglophone postcolonial literature, and she has been published widely on Caribbean and Black British literature. Much of her academic work also focuses questions relating to gender and sexual identities and the intersections between feminism and postcolonialism.
After leaving secondary school she was educated at UWC Atlantic College, and at the same time her parents moved to India. She went on to obtain her bachelor's degree in English and American literature from Warwick University and her PhD from the Centre for Caribbean Studies.
Professor Donnell has been awarded a number of research grants and fellowships, including a visiting Hurst fellowship, Department of English, Washington University and the James M. Osborne Fellowship in English Literature and History, Yale Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In 2013 she was awarded a research fellowship by the AHRC to research sexual citizenship and queerness in the Caribbean, addressing the criminalization and intolerance of homosexuality in the region by contesting heteronormativity rather than homophobia. Donnell's work uses literature to show how sexual pluralism and indeterminacy are part of the Caribbean cultural world. She worked with CAISO, the Caribbean IRN and the IGDS at UWI on a series of public events called Sexualities in the Tent.
Her interests in literary histories and archives has led to an International Network led by a group of colleagues the University of Reading and funded by the Leverhulme Trust to help retain authors' papers and manuscripts with a particular focus on Diasporic Literary Archives.
Her archival interests have also led to her development and directorship of a Doctoral Training Programme in Collections-Based Research at the University of Reading. This postgraduate training provides a pathway to a PhD, with a focus on museum and archives skills training and placement opportunities.
She was a founding and joint editor of the quarterly journal Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies from 1998 to 2011, and has an editorial role in The Journal of West Indian Literature and is a Trustee of Wasafiri magazine.
Donnell has co-edited two major textbooks in the field of anglophone Caribbean literature. The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature (1996) recovered many lesser-known literary works, especially those published before the so-called "boom" of the 1950s. The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2011) brings together three generations of critics to map a scholarly reassessment of the field.
Donnell’s academic publications on recovery research of the poetry of Una Marson, and her edited collection of Marson’s Selected Poems (part of Peepal Tree's Caribbean Classics series), have been particularly significant. Although celebrated as a pioneering black Jamaican feminist and nationalist, Marson’s literary works were often dismissed for mimicking European style. Donnell has repeatedly argued that Marson’s poetry powerfully represents her complicated relationship to both nationalism and feminism
Donnell's essay "Visibility, Violence and Voice? Attitudes to Veiling Post-11 September" appeared in Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art arranged by David A. Bailey. The essay gained attention because of its discussion of the veil as a symbol of political and cultural identity in the Muslim world. Donnell discusses how the West's concentration on the veil diverts attention from other issues such as legal rights, education and access to healthcare, connecting to debates within Islamic feminism.
- Donnell, Alison; Bucknor, Michael A. (2011). The Routledge companion to Anglophone Caribbean literature. Abingdon, Oxon New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415485777.
- Marson, Una (2011). Selected poems. Leeds, UK: Peepal Tree. ISBN 9781845231682.
- Donnell, Alison (2006). Twentieth-century Caribbean literature: critical moments in Anglophone literary history. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415262002.
- Donnell, Alison (2002). Companion to contemporary Black British culture. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415862509.
- Donnell, Alison; Polkey, Pauline (2000). Representing lives: women and auto/biography. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312226671.
- Donnell, Alison; Welsh, Sarah Lawson (1996). The Routledge reader in Caribbean literature. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415120494.
- Donnell, Alison (2003), "Visibility, violence and voice? Attitudes to veiling post-11 September", in Bailey, David A.; Tawadros, Gilane (eds.), Veil: veiling, representation, and contemporary art, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 122–135, ISBN 9780262523486.
- Donnell, Alison (November 2012). "Caribbean Queer: new meetings of place and the possible in Shani Mootoo's Valmiki's Daughter". Contemporary Women's Writing. 6 (3): 213–232. doi:10.1093/cww/vps024.
- Donnell, Alison (2011). "Una Marson and the fractured subjects of modernity: writing across the Black Atlantic". Women: A Cultural Review. 22 (4): 345–369. doi:10.1080/09574042.2011.618658.
- Donnell, Alison (1999). "Dressing with a difference: Cultural representation, minority rights and ethnic chic". Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 1 (4): 489–499. doi:10.1080/13698019900510781.
- Donnell, Alison (2002). "Nation and contestation: Black British writing". Wasafiri. 17 (36): 11–17. doi:10.1080/02690050208589781.
- "Professor Alison Donnell - UEA". www.uea.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Minority Identities: Rights and Representations". University of Reading. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Preserving & Promoting access to Literary Archives". Diasporic Archives. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- *Donnell, Alison (2011). The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415827942.
- "Staff Profile: Professor Alison Donnell, Department of English Language and Literature". University of Reading. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell: Quiet Revolutions". Barnard Center for Research on Women. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell Research". University of Reading. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell". The ASHA Centre. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell". iniva. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Minorities: Researcher Profiles". University of Reading. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell | Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library". Beinecke.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Supporting research leadership within the Arts and Humanities". Arts & Humanities Research Council. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Prestigious AHRC Fellowship for Caribbean Queer literary research project". Reading.ac.uk. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Caribbean Queer: Desire, dissidence and the constructions of literary subjectivity". Gateway to Research. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- Donnell, Alison (June 2013). "V S Naipaul, a Queer Trinidadian". Wasafiri. 28 (2): 58–65. doi:10.1080/02690055.2013.758989.
- Nixon, Angelique (26 August 2013). "Advancing Perspectives on Caribbean Sexualities". Arcthemagazine.com. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Sexualities in the Tent". YouTube. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell Reviews "Sexualities in the Tent"". Repeating Islands. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Diasporic archives - Minorities Research Network". University of Reading. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Museums and special collections at the University of Reading". University of Reading. Archived from the original on 13 February 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Doctoral Training Programme". University of Reading. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "About - Trustees". Wasafiri. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- *Donnell, Alison (1996). The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415120494.
- Donnell, Alison (1996). "Contradictory (W)omens?: Gender Consciousness in the Poetry of Una Marson". Kunapipi.
- *Donnell, Alison (2011). Una Marson: Selected Poems. Peepal Tree Press (Caribbean Modern Classics). ISBN 978-1845231682.
- *Bailey, David (2003). Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262523486.
- "'Visibility, Violence and Voice? Attitudes to Veiling Post-11 September". Iniva. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Alison Donnell's publications". English Literature, University of Reading.