Rioting and the Literary Archive

Throughout history, literary writers have struggled to communicate the collective trauma felt by families and communities who suffer in the wake of riots. Focusing on questions of voice, massing and mediation, the project examines writers’ enduring engagement with both riot’s destructive energy and its transformative potential. 

Tracing a long arc from the 18th Century novel to recent multimedia narratives generated in the wake of the Arab Spring, we will uncover a history largely ignored by literary scholars. This project will mobilise the literary archive as a dynamic and evolving analytical tool for understanding the resurgence of the riot in a contemporary global context.

Rioting and the Literary Archive draws together interdisciplinary research and writing from Britain, America, Australia and the Middle-East. Our researchers are historians with expertise in politics, literary studies and film studies – guiding the project’s archival design and engagement. Our approach includes looking at the representation of riots in a range of media environments, from literature to film. 

The project will produce the first systematic, cross-cultural study of the interrelatedness of a prevalent mode of political and economic protest. It will also explore the variable styles of writing that attest to riot’s dynamism and its idiosyncratic expressions of widespread dissent.

Funding Agency

Australian Research Council / Discovery Project (DP190100501)


Macquarie University


•    Professor Helen Groth
•    Professor Julian Murphet

Organisational units