David Sergeant

Academic profile

Professor David Sergeant

Professor of English Literature
School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. David's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 07: SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean EnergyGoal 13: SDG 13 - Climate Action

About David

My work crosses creative and critical fields. Recent research has focused on issues of the future, the Anthropocene, systemic change, planetary scale, and utopian thought. My second monograph, The Near Future in 21st Century Fiction: Climate, Retreat and Revolutionwas published by Cambridge University Press in January 2023. My doctoral research focused on late nineteenth century literature and my first monograph, Kipling’s Art of Fiction, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. I have also co-edited books on Robert Burns and on Doris Lessing, and my essays have appeared in journals such as Novel, Genre, Twentieth-Century Literature and Victorian Literature and Culture.
I am also the author of two collections and one pamphlet of poetry, and my poems have appeared in numerous journals in the UK and Europe, including the Guardian, Poetry Review, PN Review, Forward Book of the Year and Poetry Ireland. A collaboration for Faber with the composer Martin Suckling was performed at the Royal Opera House in 2014. 
My undergraduate and postgraduate teaching ranges from the late eighteenth century to the present day. I have designed undergraduate modules on Apocalyptic Fiction and on Genre Writing, postgraduate modules on Poetry and the Environment and The Utopian Novel and Modernity, and have supervised critical and creative PhD dissertations ranging from poetry collections to novels to studies of ecocriticism.
I’ve led a number of public projects arising out of my research. From 2018 to 2020 I teamed up with Regen, a green energy not-for-profit, and various communities across South Devon, to explore how communal meals might act as one way of bringing elements of a ‘utopian’ future into our shared present. Since January 2022 I have led the project ‘Net-Zero Visions for the Devon Climate Emergency’, which encourages and supports individuals and communities in a reimagining of the places where they live, in support of the Devon Carbon Plan and its goal to transition the county to net-zero emissions by 2050. I have also worked with the Art and Energy Collective and Devon Communities Together on projects involving the reimagination of what we do, and why, in the context of climate crisis and the multiple other challenges facing us.
Before joining Plymouth I took a BA, MSt and DPhil from the University of Oxford, where I also held a three year postdoctoral research fellowship. My Masters and Doctoral study was funded by the AHRC, and I’ve been PI on grants totalling over £250k. 
At Plymouth I’m Research Co-ordinator for English and Creative Writing. I was also a member of the ERDF funded Low Carbon Devon project team, was co-founder and co-coordinator of the Research Group ‘Environmental Cultures, and was a founding member and Steering Committee member of the UK Future Earth ECR and Practitioner Network (UKFE ECRP) for the UK national academies. 


Undergraduate teaching
I have taught topics and authors at undergraduate and postgraduate level from the late eighteenth century to the present day. At Plymouth I have designed and lead an undergraduate module on Apocalypse and the Modern Novel, which is informed by my research interest in issues such as global capitalism and environmental crisis, the evolution of the genre novel, and the representation of “unthinkable” change in literature: texts we study range from H. G. Wells to Kurt Vonnegut to Margaret Atwood. I also designed and lead a creative writing module, Genre Fiction, in which students sharpen their awareness of the matrix of genres they’re always working in, whether they’re conscious of it or not, and develop their writing in science fiction, historical fiction, crime/thriller, and ‘contemporary’ or ‘literary’ fiction.

Graduate teaching
I designed and led a MA module on Poetry and the Environment, which covers some of the major landmarks in recent “eco-critical” thinking through an extended focus on poetry, ranging from the Romantics to postcolonial Australian poetries. I also designed and lead a MA module on The Utopian Novel and Modernity, which is open to students on both the English and the Environmental Humanities MAs. 
I have supervised four PhD projects to completion, and am currently a supervisor on six more. Dissertation topics include creative writing projects on Websleuths and Detective Fiction, Transcorporeality and Greek Mythology, and Diagram Poetry, and a critical project on the Anthropocene and Trauma.
I am always keen to hear from prospective doctoral students interested in topics relating to my research and creative interests. Get in touch!

Contact David

Room 8, 5 Portland Villas, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA
+44 1752 585104