Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode

School of English

Faculty Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Senior University Teacher in the School of English

English Rachel van Duyvenbode
English Rachel van Duyvenbode

+44 114 222 8482

Full contact details

Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode
School of English
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I study and teach narratives of difference at the interfaces of American literature, critical whiteness studies and theories of race, gender and sexuality. My research also spans pedagogical theories (educational studies) with a focus on white supremacy in higher education.

I came to The University of Sheffield in 1996 to read American Studies and completed my PhD (on representations of white women in African American women’s literature) in 2004. Whilst writing my PhD, I received a scholarship to attend the School of Criticism and Theory (SCT) at Cornell University and worked with Professor Manthia Diawara on a project entitled `Cultural Studies and the Black Diaspora.´ In 2003, I was awarded a fellowship to attend the Salzburg Seminar in Contemporary American Literature.

In September 2004, I joined the School of English after a previous position as an Associate Lecturer in English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University (2003-2004). I was promoted to Senior University Teacher in 2015 on the strengths of my innovative classroom practice and was appointed Faculty Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the Arts & Humanities in 2018. 

I have three young children and have worked part-time (0.6) throughout my professional career; combining academic practice with EDI staff development and university leadership. 

Research interests

Most recently, I have published a chapter on my work leading the Sheffield SEED Project (see below) for an international collection of essays exploring the pedagogy of vulnerability in higher education (Information Age: 2020). Prior to that, my work on race in American literature has been published in The Journal of American Studies and elsewhere and I’ve undertaken peer review work for journals. 

As a university educator, I am committed to creating inclusive and inspiring spaces for students to learn. In 2016, I was awarded a prestigious Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and have been a finalist for Excellence in Teaching Prize at the Students Union Academic Awards. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2015, I developed a ground-breaking EDI staff development programme called The Sheffield SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. This innovative CPD programme is based on the longstanding National SEED Project which seeks to drive personal and organisational change toward social justice through collective dialogue. For the past 5 years, I have designed and facilitated staff CPD workshops on EDI topics via my work with SEED. In my staff development practice, I am particularly interested in the potential of creative, experiential and reflective learning methods to deepen EDI praxis. My work has been recognised as sector-leading innovative practice by ECU & HEA (2016) (now Advance HE) and HEFCE (2017) and I have shared my work with SEED at conferences and via consultancy for various universities across the UK.

In 2018, I was appointed Faculty Director of EDI (Arts & Humanities) and am responsible for influencing organisational and structural change. Aligned to my Faculty post, I am also the Director of FirstGenSheffield and am leading our Faculty-wide approach to Decolonising the Curriculum.


Journal articles


  • van Duyvenbode R (2020) Pulling in and Out of My Daily Work: The Friction of Pedagogies of Vulnerability in a UK University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Staff Development Programme In Brantmeier EJ & McKenna MK (Ed.), Pedagogy of Vulnerability Information Age Publishing View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • van Duyvenbode RH (2016) The Sheffield SEED Project: An Alternative Model for Staff Competency Training In Hanesworth P (Ed.), Equality and diversity in learning and teaching in higher education: Papers from Equality Challenge Unit and Higher Education Academy joint conferences. (pp. 35-43). London: Equality Challenge Unit. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews


Research group

I welcome PhD applicants who wish to undertake research in American Literature (particularly African American Literature), issues of race, gender and/or sexuality in contemporary writing, as well as applicants who have an interest in the study of whiteness and higher education. I have supervised PhD students to successful completion on projects ranging from antiblackness in higher education to Hong Kong fictions.

Teaching activities

I teach across the undergraduate and MA curriculum and offer specialist modules emerging out of my research area. Over the years, I have taught modules on African American Literature, African American Critical Literary Theory, American Modern Fiction, The ‘Idea’ of America and an MA module on Reading Whiteness in American literature. 

I enjoy co-teaching and have collaborated with local authors to jointly teach undergraduate students. I was an early-adopter of the flipped classroom and have used this approach to create inclusive learning environments where students are supported to learn at their own pace. I’ve also supervised a number of funded internships over the years which have sought to further racial justice and equity goals and values including a project on the history of the transatlantic slavery in Sheffield. This year, two interns have been working on projects related to decolonising the curriculum and building antiracist classrooms in the Arts and Humanities.

Partnership working with students is at the heart of my practice and I’ve worked closely with the Students Union on a number of projects including the Library’s #readingfor diversity campaign. I work across the institution advising and facilitating EDI training for staff and students.