Faculty of Arts, Law and Education

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Caitlin Vandertop
Caitlin Vandertop
Job Info
School of Language, Arts & Media
Position Title:
Lecturer in Literature
Contact Info
Phone #:
+679 3232016
Personal Info

 in Qualifications

BA (Leeds) MA (Queen Mary, London) PhD (HKU)


Before joining the University of the South Pacific, I worked and studied at universities in the UK, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. I took up a fellowship at the University of Hong Kong in 2012 as part of a research cluster on global modernisms. My research project, which is titled Concrete jungles: modernist literature and the British colonial metropolis, was supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and later by a scholarship from the College of Humanities at the University of Exeter. I defended my PhD thesis in December 2016, while working at the University of Hong Kong as an archival research assistant. I have taught courses in modern and world literature, as well as academic English, at institutions including the University of Hong Kong, Birkbeck, University of London, the University of Westminster and the University of Canberra.

My research is in twentieth-century global literatures in English, urban culture, and postcolonial studies with a special interest in Asia-Pacific literature. I am preparing a monograph that weaves together Anglophone modernist narratives from a network of four British colonial cities in the period 1900-1940. The book explores how modernist writers confronted the monumentalised landscapes of the late British Empire with diverse and dissonant experiences on the city streets. It argues that contemporary theorisations of modernism’s ‘unreal city’ should focus on the uneven, asynchronous modernity experienced in early twentieth-century colonial urban laboratories.

Other areas of research and teaching interest include literature and development, colonial financial enclaves and gated communities, literature and commodities, in particular opium, and intersections between the urban humanities and world-ecological criticism.

Research interests

  • Twentieth-century global literatures in English
  • Urban cultures of the British Empire
  • Postcolonial studies & Asia-Pacific literature
  • Materialist and environmental criticism


  • ‘Architectures of the invisible hand: envisioning capital in Joseph Conrad’s Singapore’ Textual Practice (forthcoming).
  • ‘Peripheral urbanism, imperial maturity and the fiction of development in Lao She's Rickshaw and Mulk Raj Anand’s Coolie’ (under review).
  • Review of ‘Combined and uneven development: towards a new theory of world-literature', forthcoming with ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 2017.
  • 'The colonies in concrete: Walter Benjamin, urban form, and the dreamworlds of empire', Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 18: 5 (2016), 709-29.
  • 'Travel literature and the infrastructural unconscious’, in New Directions in Travel Writing Studies, eds. Julia Kuehn and Paul Smethurst (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015), 26-44.

Monograph in Progress

Concrete Jungles: Modernist Literature in the British Colonial Metropolis

Selected Conference Papers

  • 'Unreal cities: peripheral modernisms in the British colonial metropolis’, The City as Modernist Ephemera, London South Bank University, 16 June 2017.
  • ‘Joseph Conrad and the invisible hand’, Humanities Research Seminar Series, University of the South Pacific, 8 March 2017.
  • ‘Concrete jungles: modernist fiction and the British colonial city’, Hong Kong Intercollegiate Modernism Seminar, University of Hong Kong, 5 November 2016
  • ‘Uneven city: colonial architecture, imperial maturity and the crisis of development in Mulk Raj Anand’, Transgressions and the Southwest: Penryn Symposium, University of Exeter, 3 June 2016.
  • ‘Architectures of the invisible hand: Joseph Conrad in colonial Singapore’, Transnational Modernisms: Australasian Modernist Studies Network Conference, University of Sydney, 15 December 2014.
  • ‘Mapping Conrad’s colonial city’, Joseph Conrad Society Annual Conference, University of Kent, 4 July 2014.
  • ‘The colonies in concrete: Walter Benjamin, colonial culture and urban form’, Hong Kong Intercollegiate Modernism Colloquium, University of Hong Kong, 10 February 2014.
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