Eleanor Careless

University of Sussex

Project Title: Charged with terrorism: representations of gender and violence in contemporary poetry 

I research representations of gender and political violence in contemporary poetry, the media, and art, and the ways in which these representations drove terror and counter-terror strategies in Britain in the 1970s. My research focuses on the poet and activist Anna Mendelssohn, who was charged with terrorism in the 1970s, and her contexts. These contexts include gendered and racialised oppression; emerging states of exceptionality; female incarceration; and the rise of international terrorism. 

I have taken poetry as a lens that permits an unusual degree of insight into how terrorist subjects represent themselves. Terror and counter-terror strategies are highly encrypted and prone to over-reading or misreadings — characteristics which might also describe the production and reception of innovative contemporary poetry. 

The project also discusses figures such as Muriel Rukeyser, a poet and activist who was under FBI surveillance for over forty years; the Angry Brigade, and their controversial trial in 1972; and the transformation of Holloway Women's Prison in the 1970s-80s. With close reference to poetic and artistic output, archival material and other primary data, my work interrogates the erosion of civil liberties under the guise of security, and contends that the temporary measures of the 1970s paved the
way for counter-terror legislation in Britain today.

Supervised by Dr Sara Crangle

Research interests
Identity and representation, terrorist studies, gender, conflict studies, feminism, prison industrial complex, contemporary literature, visual culture


       PhD student, University of Sussex (2014 - 2017)

       MPhil in Criticism and Culture, University of Cambridge (2010 - 2011, Distinction)

       BA in English Literature, University of Cambridge (2007 - 2010, Double First)

Recent publications

       'Such Terror Out of Europe': Review of Geert Buelens, Everything to Nothing: The Great War, Revolution and the Transformation of Europe (Verso: 2015), Review 31(July 2016)

       Luis Buñuel and the cinematics of terror, Institute of Contemporary Art (Nov 2015)

       review of viola tricolor by Grace Lake (Equipage, 1993). Hix Eros, 6 (August 2015): 22-26.

       ‘The Milk Fetish’, The Inkling (12 May 2015)

       'Plural Vocables': Review of Lisa Robertson's The Men, The Literateur (Jan 2015)

       ‘I shall not prove/neither shall I be proven: py. by Anna Mendelssohn’, The Paper Nautilus, issue 2, ed. Rosa van Hensbergen and Laura Kilbride (Cambridge: 2011)


       British Council Research Fellow at the Library of Congress, Jan - May 2016

       CHASE studentship, 2014 - 2017

       Bachelor and Foundation Scholarship, Queens’ College Cambridge, 2009 & 2010


       Lyric Poetry course, University of Sussex (2016)

       Seminar on tragedy and terror, Robinson College, University of Cambridge (2015)

       Eighteenth century English Literature, Poetry in English, English Language, and agrégation courses at Université de Paris 7 - Denis Diderot (Sept 2012 - Sept 2013)


Conference papers and talks

       ‘The long arm of the failure of resistance: responses to terror in the 1970s’, at the Failure Symposium, University of Sussex (28 Sept 2016)

       ‘risk the big gesture: Frank O'Hara on Helen Frankenthaler’, at the Frank O'Hara Symposium, Institute of Contemporary Arts (24 Jul 2016)

       ‘a violent woman in the violent day: gender and the political in twentieth century transatlantic poetry’, work in progress talk at The Kluge Center, Library of Congress (12 Apr 2016)

       Organiser and Chair, panel discussion on cinematic representations of terrorist violence, at the Institute of Contemporary Art (3 Dec 2015)

        ‘Incarceration in the poetry of Anna Mendelssohn’, as part of the English Graduate Series, University of Sussex (2 Oct 2015)

       ‘Women and incarceration in the 1970s’, at Under the Moon, The May Day Rooms (29 Apr 2015)

       ‘The Angry Brigade’s Irish connection’, at the Women, Law and Disorder International Women’s Day conference, Queen’s University, Belfast (6-7 March 2015)

        ‘Milk and Mutability’, at the Andrea Brady Symposium, Birkbeck School of Arts (13 Dec 2014)

 Other academic activities

       Co-organiser, Hi Zero (long standing poetry reading series based in Brighton, 2016 - present)

       Co-editor, The Literateur (online literary magazine featuring poetry, short stories and interviews, 2015 - present)

       Programme Coordinator, The Institute for Contemporary Arts (2015)

       Volunteer archivist, The Keep (2015)

       Co-convenor, Contrapposto (feminist reading group based in London, 2014 - 2015)

Twitter @elcareless