Prof Gill Plain

Prof Gill Plain


Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 2671
Room 32
Castle House


Research areas

My research has ranged across the twentieth century, from First World War women poets to the fictional serial killer boom of the 1990s, but I have a particular interest in the literature, film and culture of mid-twentieth century Britain. My first book, Women’s Fiction of the Second World War (1996), explored literary responses to the threat and actuality of total war, my second turned to my other life-long preoccupation, crime fiction. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction: Gender, Sexuality and the Body (2001), mapped changing attitudes to bodies – living and dead – across the century, while also reflecting on the politics of genre. Since then I have worked in both areas, producing three further books on aspects of crime, war, gender and national identity. Ian Rankin’s ‘Black and Blue’: A Reader’s Guide (2002), John Mills and British Cinema; Masculinity, Identity and Nation (2006) and Literature of the 1940s: War, Postwar and ‘Peace’ (2013). I’ve also edited a number of volumes that reflect my interests in gender, representation and conflict. These include A History of Feminist Literary Criticism (co-edited with Susan Sellers, 2007), Scotland and the First World War: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Bannockburn (2016), and British Literature in Transition 1940-1960: Postwar.

I’ve just completed a new monograph, Prosthetic Agency: Literature, Culture and Masculinity in the Aftermath of World War II (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, June 2023). The book explores narratives of postwar rehabilitation in film, fiction, biography and memoir. Its central preoccupations are the turn to technology as a mode of ‘man-making’ and the often-unexpected discourses surrounding disability in the aftermath of the war. My focus is on popular writers such as Nigel Balchin, Hammond Innes, Nevil Shute and John Wyndham, and I examine films ranging from The Small Back Room (1949) to The Sound Barrier (1952) to A Town Like Alice (1955). Chapters explore the resurgence of the thriller form; popular cinema of the jet age; the anxieties generated by scientific modernity; autobiographies of veteran self-reconstruction; representations of disability in film and fiction; the mythologization of Douglas Bader, and the Guinea Pig Magazine.

PhD supervision

  • Jamie Logue
  • Michela Esposito
  • Benjamin Parris

Selected publications


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