Dr Veronica Barnsley

School of English

Lecturer in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Literature

English Veronica Barnsley
Profile picture of English Veronica Barnsley
+44 114 222 0237

Full contact details

Dr Veronica Barnsley
School of English
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I joined the English department at Sheffield as a University Teacher in 2014, becoming a Lecturer in 2015. I completed my PhD on childhood in South Asian literature at the University of Manchester in 2013. My research is focused on representations of childhood, youth and international development in postcolonial/world literatures. I am keen to promote widening participation and engaged learning and have led projects including Material Stories, a series of arts-based workshops and performances with refugee, asylum seeker and migrant groups in Sheffield described in this article.

Research interests

My research explores diverse and contradictory constructions of the child and childhood across postcolonial cultures and neocolonial borders, focusing principally on writing from South Asia and West and Southern Africa. My work is cross-disciplinary, combining postcolonial and decolonial thinking with explorations into Childhood Studies, International Development and Medical Humanities in order to understand changing concepts and practices related to birth, infancy, motherhood and the role that literary and cinematic narratives play in framing them.

I am completing a monograph on childhood in postcolonial literatures that approaches representations of childhood in the global South comparatively, paying attention to how the idea of a ‘good’ childhood promoted by international development discourse is complicated and resisted in postcolonial texts. The book engages with familiar narrative forms such as the bildungsroman as well as feature and documentary films, short stories and graphic fiction. 

I have a longstanding interest in global modernisms, developed during my PhD project, which concentrated on Indian and British fiction in the period 1880-1935. I am currently writing on the relationship between childishness and gender in Jean Rhys’s short fiction.

My research on arts and well-being as part of Material Stories led to my participation in a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project. I am working with an interdisciplinary team looking at community-based mental health interventions in northern Uganda. We are partnering with the department of health, local government and UNICEF to develop screening and awareness raising tools and creative activities aimed at adolescents and young adults. I have also conducted research on gender and education in West Africa in collaboration with the University of Ghana and funded by the World Universities Network (WUN).


Journal articles

Dictionary/encyclopaedia entries

  • Barnsley V (2020) The Postcolonial Child. In SAGE Encyclopedia of Childhood Studies. London: SAGE. RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

I currently supervise PhD students working on topics including migrant children in contemporary British fiction, victimhood in the contemporary British novel, and domestic space in colonial and postcolonial writing from Malaya and Singapore. I welcome enquiries from students wanting to pursue research in topics relating to childhood and youth, literature and international development or medical humanities. 

Teaching activities

I currently teach undergraduate core modules on Contemporary Literature (level 1) and Literature and Critical Thought (level 2) and optional modules on The Postcolonial Bildungsroman (level 2) and Contemporary Black British Writing (level 3). At MA level I teach New African Literatures and contribute to team teaching on Memory and Narrative and Writing Identities: Nation, Race, Empire (online).

In 2019 I was made a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).