After completing a BA in English and Related Literature at the University of York, Rachel studied postcolonial and American literatures at the University of Leeds. Since receiving her PhD, she has taught at the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Hull, and at Leeds Metropolitan University. She joined the department in 2007. Her primary research interests lie in African American literature and culture, especially the Harlem Renaissance. A second area of research interest is postcolonial studies, with an emphasis on South Asian writers such as Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee and Vikram Seth.
Rachel’s current research focuses upon nationalism and internationalism in New Negro Renaissance literature, journalism and visual culture, with a particular emphasis upon representations of ancient and modern Egypt, India and Afro-Orientalism. This book-length project promises to open up new areas of study, especially in its exploration of the profound ambivalence towards both ancient and modern empires that characterises much New Negro internationalism. A second project examines representations of readers and ideas of reading in African American culture. She has several articles in preparation at the moment, including one essay on Percival Everett's Erasure, and another on the politics and poetics of space in Agha Shahid Ali’s The Country Without a Post Office.