Dr Zalfa Feghali

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Lecturer in American Literature

zalfa feghali.jpg

Department: English and Centre for American Studies

Telephone: +44 (0)116 223 1068

Email: zf31@le.ac.uk

Office: Room 1305, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I am a lecturer in American literature, specializing in border studies, citizenship studies, and Indigenous studies as they play out contemporary US and Canadian literature and culture (and beyond).

I joined the Centre for American Studies and School of Arts in January 2016, having previously worked as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in American literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. I have also taught at the University of Birmingham, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, and the American University of Beirut.

I was the Postgraduate and then Early Career Representative on the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies from 2010-2012 and then 2013-2015.

I was the Editorial Assistant with the Journal of American Studies from 2013-2016.

I am currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of American Studies.

At Leicester, I am Admissions Tutor in the Centre for American Studies, Senior Tutor for BA English and American Studies, and Equalities Champion for the School of Arts. I am also a compulsive crisp-eater.


  • BA, Political Studies, American University of Beirut
  • MA, English Literature, American University of Beirut
  • PhD, American Studies, University of Nottingham
  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy



  • Feghali, Zalfa. Crossing Borders and Queering Citizenship: Civic Reading Practice and Contemporary American and Canadian Literature (Manchester University Press, 2019).
  • Feghali Zalfa, and Toner, Deborah, eds. The Routledge Companion to Gender and Borderlands (Routledge, 2022).

Journal articles and book chapters

  • Feghali, Zalfa. '"We have to get along with others": Cosmopolitanism and Cross-Border Literary History.' In Reading between the Borderlines: Cultural Production and Consumption Across the 49th Parallel. Ed. Gillian Roberts (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2018), 290-310.
  • Feghali, Zalfa. “Conversations that never happened: Gloria Anzaldúa, Maria Campbell, and Howard Adams.” In Parallel Encounters: Tensions at the 49th Parallel. Eds. Gillian Roberts and David F. Stirrup (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013), 335-55.
  • Feghali, Zalfa. “Hemispheric Studies and Indigenous Peoples: Considering a New Approach.” In Beyond the Border: Tensions Across the 49th Parallel. Eds. Kyle Conway and Timothy Pasch (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013): 153-169
  • Feghali, Zalfa. “Thinking Through the New Mestiza.” Journal of International Women's Studies. 12.2 (2011): 61-74


My first book, the extremely lengthily-titled Crossing Borders and Queering Citizenship: Civic Reading Practice and Contemporary American and Canadian Writing, theorised reading as an act of citizenship. I read work by Thomas King, Gloria Anzaldúa, Dorothy Allison, Gregory Scofield, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Erín Moure, and Yann Martel to offer new ways of thinking about citizenship in the United States and Canada.

My interests tend to meander but always connect to borders, citizenship, belonging, and reading practices of some variety. I have just completed an essay on Indigenous podcasting in North America as well as a piece exploring what I call ‘children’s crisis texts’ – cultural products that reflect on the treatment of unaccompanied and separated children at the US-Mexico border.

I’m currently working on my next book, Alone, Missing, Murdered: Reading Violence and Vulnerability Across North American Borders. I see it as an urgent response to a crisis of vulnerability in the US, Canada, and Mexico (and of course beyond) and in it I try to practice an ethics of reading for vulnerability. Women, children, Indigenous, African American, LGBT2S+, and trans, and (many) other communities are especially vulnerable in contemporary North America. Their vulnerability takes different forms: some arrive in the United States alone and must navigate its labyrinthine immigration system; others suffer from institutional neglect and abuse at the hands of settler colonial, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and transphobic government structures and processes; and others still are victims of femicide and genocide. Many of these vulnerabilities intersect, creating a dangerous space for those occupying multiple spaces of ‘Otherness’. I examine US, Canadian, and Mexican cultural responses to what I argue is a hemispheric, cross-border crisis of vulnerability.

Happening in the background has been a project called World Leaders and Citizen Readers: Private Reading, Public Policy. When complete, it will examine the personal reading choices of world leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada since 1945. It maps the reading practices of these government leaders onto developments in national cultural policy during the same period and theorises the relationship between personal reading by public figures onto their literary and cultural advocacy, as they manifest in cultural policies and legislation.


  • AM2010 American Literary Figures from the Settler to the Hipster
  • AM2013 Ethnicity and Diversity in American Literature
  • AM3021 Literatures of Protest: Reading and Political Action
  • AM3023 American Studies in Action
  • EN7252 Twenty-First Century Fiction

I have previously taught:

  • AM2012 The American City
  • AM3020 Blood, Terror, and Belonging: Culture at American Borders
  • EN2060 Concepts in Criticism
  • EN3040 Postwar to Postmodern Literature
  • EN7032 Modern Literature and Theory 2

I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and contribute to other modules in American Studies and English, including:

  • AM1002 Classic US Texts
  • AM1005 Modern American Writing
  • AM2011 The American West
  • EN7031 Modern Literature and Theory 1


I have supervised doctoral and MRes projects on American musicals, 1990s US literature, Australian drama, and Caribbean women’s writing.

I am currently supervising Hannah Spruce’s M3C-funded project, 'Destabilising Psychopathy Discourse Through North American Women's Writing'.

I would be interested in supervising PhD projects on the following broad topics:

  • Contemporary North American literature and culture
  • Border studies
  • Cross-border literature and culture (for example USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • Literary and cultural representations of borders, citizenship, and belonging in the North American context
  • Cultures and communities of reading

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