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Photo of Dr Davina Quinlivan

Dr Davina Quinlivan

Lecturer (E&S)


Davina is interested in concepts of post-colonial identity, migration, ecology (rivers and seaweed), sonic and immersive storytelling ('haunted' spaces and embodiment), in all kinds of literature, but especially contemporary women's writing, poetry and its intersections with visual culture, philosophy, creative non-fiction and nature writing. Her poetic memoir, Shalimar: A Story of Place and Migration, was published with Little Toller books (2022) and selected as the text which would launch the new digital publishing platform, Spiracle Audio. On Shalimar, Marina Warner describes Quinlivan as ‘a writer of rare gentleness and insight (…) she winds us into the skein of her extended diasporic family, expressing the complexity of identity today. Deftly she weaves back and forth in time as she braids these memories, in a sustained, observant, poetic act of attention — and love’. 

As a public speaker, presenter and curator, she has fostered partnerships with The Wellcome Trust and The Delfina Foundation (Healing and the Archive), The Serpentine Gallery (Hilma Af Klint), The Wallace Collection, The Museum of English Rural Life (as part of the 2022 ‘Changing Perspectives’ online exhibition), The Urban Tree Festival and The Countryside Alliance. She is the writer and presenter of the popular public seminar series on women, literature and creative writing, ‘F: For Flânerie’ with The Freud Museum. She is Writer in Residence at Literature Works/Quay Words (Spring 2023), creating a series of poems about the  heritage of the River Exe and leading several creative writing workshops, one of which will involve the creation of a poem written by members of the local community. She is part of the founding ensemble of The New School of the Anthropocene.

She is currently working on a follow up to Shalimar on migration and the Grand Union Canal, the river Exe and the Chindwin in Myanmar, entitled Waterlines,a series of poems retelling fairyales in a modern and ecological context, and a novel set between Cornwall and the Black Sea. She is also researching critical-creative projects on nature writing and decolonisation. Alongside this creative practice, she is co-editing a special issue of film-philosophy on ‘Poetry and Cinema’ and a collection of essays on radical bodies (Bloomsbury, 2023).

Before joining The University of Exeter, Davina taught elsewhere in Higher Education for 16 years, including 12 years as a Senior Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University. She is the author of several academic monographs including The Spirit of the Beehive: Girlhood and Ecology (BFI Film Classics, forthcoming), Joanna Hogg: New British Art Cinema (EUP, forthcoming), Deborah Levy’s Inner Cinema: Literature, Imagination, Landscapes (forthcoming), Filming the Body in Crisis: Trauma, Healing and Hopefulness (Palgrave, 2015), The Place of Breath in Cinema (EUP, 2012). She has presented her work at over 40 academic conferences and her work on breath and phenomenology served as the primary text for two special issues of peer-reviewed journals. 

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