Professor Gillian Whitlock


School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 52255


Gillian Whitlock is a Professor of English in the School of Communication and Arts. She is a graduate of UQ, Griffith and Queen’s University in Canada.

Research Areas

Her research field is life narrative, testimonial narrative most particularly, and her contribution to this is distinctive and recognised internationally. It draws on postcolonialism and literary studies and focusses on the ways that different genres, modes and themes of life narrative are adapted, remediated and appropriated in international markets for memoir and testimony. Her research has produced several neologisms now widely accepted in the field – ‘autographics’ ‘soft weapons’ – and currently it contributes to the turn to posthumanism – the subject of a prize-winning special issue of the journal Biography co-edited to G.T. Couser – is widely associated with her work in this field (and her current work in progress on ‘the testimony of things’ will develop this orientation further). Since 2012 she has been working on the Burnside Durham and Elaine Smith asylum seeker archives in the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland.

Honours, Awards, Prestigious Fellowships since 2000

  • ARC Professorial Fellow, The University of Queensland 2010-15
  • Visiting Fellowships at Centre for Humanities, University of Michigan (1015), King’s College London (2014), Humanities Research Centre ANU (2010, 2011, 2017)
  • Board member of the Australia India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs 2010-14
  • Council member and Vice President, Australian Academy of the Humanities 2010-14
  • Assessor for the Australian Research Council –Laureate panels, Discovery rounds
  • University of Queensland Academic Board 2014-16
  • Appointed to the HCA panel for ERA 2012
  • Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities since 2007
  • Regional Chair and Judge, Commonwealth Writers Prize 2000-3
  • Divisional representative, Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly, Modern Language Association of America 2006-9
  • Chair, Non Fiction Panel, Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards 2003-5
  • Member, English Panel, Queensland Secondary Studies Authority 2001-4
  • President, Association for Canadian Studies 2000-2
  • Editorial Boards: Australian Literary Studies, English Studies in Canada, Current Writing (South Africa), Canadian Literature, Life Writing.

Grant Funding Highlights

  • 2010-14 ‘Inhumanities’. Australian Research Council, Discovery Project Grant ($591,000).
  • 2010 ALTC Project: ‘Reading Resilience’, (with Kate Douglas, Rosanne Kennedy and Anna Poletti) $200.000
  • 2006 ‘Resourceful Reading’. Australian Research Council, Discovery Project Grant ($410,000) (with Robert Dixon, Leigh Dale and Kath Bode).
  • 2005 “Autobiographical Avatars’. Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant ($129,000).
  • 2001 ‘Australian Memoir’ Australian Research Council, Discovery Project Grant ($ 120,000)

Single-Authored Books:

  • Whitlock, Gillian
    • Postcolonial Literature: Testimonial Transactions.
    • UK: Oxford University Press, 2015.
    • A volume in the OUP ‘Postcolonialism’ series.
  • Whitlock, Gillian
    • Soft Weapons: Autobiography in Transit
    • Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
    • An often-cited book that introduced several neologisms into the field (‘autographics’, ‘soft weapons’) and is recognized in the Smith & Watson Reading Autobiography textbook as one of the leading interventions in criticism of contemporary life narrative.
      • Short listed for the Glebebooks Prize 2006.
  • Whitlock, Gillian.
  • The Intimate Empire: Reading Women’s Autobiography
    • London: Bloomsbury, 2000.
      • This book won the Walter McCrae Russell Australian Studies Association prize for best work of literary criticism published in 2000.

Edited Books

  • Whitlock, Gillian ed.(1996)
    • Autographs: Contemporary Australian Autobiography
    • St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Gail Reekie. eds. 1996.
    • Uncertain Beginnings: Debates in Australian Studies
    • St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Helen Tiffin, eds. 1993.
    • Re-Siting Queen's English
    • Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1992.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & David Carter, eds. 1993.. 2nd Ed. 1999.
    • Images of Australia
    • St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993.
  • Whitlock, Gillian, ed. 1989.
    • Eight Voices: Contemporary Australian Women's Writing
    • St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1989.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Russell McDougall, eds. 1987.
    • Australian/Canadian Literatures in English Comparative Perspectives
    • Sydney: Methuen, 1987

Edited Journal Issues

  • Whitlock, Gillian & G.T. Couser, eds.2012
    • Biography: ‘Posthuman Lives’*
    • [‘Posthuman Lives’ won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals prize for the best special issue of a journal published in the USA in 2012
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Rosanne Kennedy, 2011
    • Australian Feminist Studies
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Kate Douglas, eds.2009
    • Life Writing: Trauma Texts
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Anna Poletti, 2008.
    • Biography: Autographics.*
      • The most cited issue of Biography in 2016.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Victoria Kuttainen, 2008.
    • Journal of Studies in Australian Literature: The Colonial Present.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Malcolm Alexander, eds.
    • Australian-Canadian Studies 1986-92.

Book Chapters 2000-16.

  • Whitlock, Gillian & Grace Moore (2017)
    • ‘Once More, with Feeling’ in Joy Damousi and June Whitfield Davies, eds, The History of the Emotions vol 5. London: Bloomsbury, in press.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2017)
    • ‘Putting Literature to Rights’ in Gareth Griffiths and Philip Mead, eds, The Social Work of Narrative. Hanover &NYC: Ibidem/Columbia, in press.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2015)
    • ‘Sorry Business’ The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, ed Alexandra Schultheis Moore. London: Routledge. pp.207-15.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2014)
    • ‘Indigenous Testimony’ in Alexandra Schultheis, ed, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Human Rights
    • London: Routledge.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2014)
    • ‘Ego Histoire’ in Karen Hughes, Vanessa Castejon, Anna Cole & Oliver Haag, eds., Ego Histoire, Europe and Indigenous Australia. Canberra: ANU E Press
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2014)
    • ‘Protection’ in Margaretta Jolly & Meg Jensen, eds., We Shall Bear Witness. Whitewater: University of
    • Wisconsin Press, pp.96-115.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2013)
    • ‘The Testimony of Things’ in Tony Bennett, ed. Contesting the Humanities, Sydney: Australian Scholars Press, pp.49-73.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2013)
    • ‘Mary Prince’ in Henry Louis Gates, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature
    • Oxford: OUP.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2012)
    • ‘Out of Country’ in Robert Dixon & Brigid Rooney, eds., Scenes of Reading Sydney: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp. 178-188.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2009)
    • ‘Not on My Watch” in Robert Clarke, ed, Celebrity Colonialism. Fame, Power and Representation in Postcolonial Cultures. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, pp 327-344.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2009)
    • “Voices from the Past: Gender, Politics, and the Anthology” in Katherine Bode & Robert Dixon, eds. Resourceful Reading. The New Empiricism, eResearch, and Australian Literary Culture. Sydney: Sydney University Press, pp.274-298.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2009)
    • “In the second person: narrative transactions in Stolen Generations testimony” rep in Trev Lynn Broughton, ed., Autobiography. London: Routledge, pp 362-379.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2008)
    • ‘Located Subjects’ (with Kate Douglas) in Craig Howes & Miriam Fuchs, eds, Teaching Autobiography. New York, MLA, pp.214-220
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2007)
    • “The Animals are Innocent” in Helen Tiffin, ed., Five Emus to the king of Siam: Environment and Empire. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp.235-246.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2006)
    • ‘Acts of Remembrance’ in Annie Coombes, ed., The Invention of History: Past and Present in Settler Societies Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.82-101.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2003)
    • 'Disciplining the Child. Academic Autobiography in the Robbins Generation' in Frederic Regard, ed., Mapping the Self. Space, Identity, Discourse in British Auto/Biography Saint Etienne: Publications de l'Universite de Saint Etienne, pp.339-354.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2004)
    • ‘Becoming Migaloo’ in David Carter, ed., The Ideas Market Melbourne: MUP, 2004, pp.236-258
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2002)
    • 'Why then a writer of memoirs is a better thing than an historian' in Rosamund Dalziell, ed., Selves Crossing Cultures, Sydney: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp.162-177.
  • Whitlock,Gillian (2002)
    • 'Instant Infamy: A Short History of Broometime' in Helen Gilbert and Anna Johnston, eds., In Transit. New York: Peter Lang, pp.235-254.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2001)
    • 'Re-engineering English' in Wolfgang Zach, ed., English Studies: Past, Present, Future Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovac, pp.179-187
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2001)
    • 'Volatile Subjects: The History of Mary Prince' in Vincent Caretta and Philip Gould, eds., Genius in Bondage. Literature of the Early Black Atlantic. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, pp.72-88.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2000)
    • 'From Biography to Autobiography' in Elizabeth Webby, ed., Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2000)
    • 'Literature and the Arts' in Chilla Bulbeck and David Carter, eds., Exploring Australia. Brisbane: Griffith University.

Refereed Articles 2000-16.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2017)
    • ‘Salvage’, Life Writing 14,1 (spring 2017) pp.1-12.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2016)
    • ‘Joe Sacco’s Australian Story’, Life Writing 13,4 (winter 2017), pp.1-10
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2016)
    • ‘Pictures at an Exhibition: A Year in Review’, Biography 39, 4 (Fall 2016)
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2016)
    • ‘After Empire’, Life Writing 13, 2 (summer 2016), pp.295-303.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2015)
    • ‘The Hospitality of Cyberspace’, Biography, summer 2015.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Roger Osborne (2015)
    • Carpentaria Outside Country’ JASAL 18, summer 2015.
  • Whitlock, Gillian & Roger Osborne (2015)
    • ‘Benang: A Worldly Book’ JASAL 13, 3, pp.1-15.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2011)
    • ‘Remediating the Hoax’, Australian Feminist Studies, 26, issue 69, pp.349-367.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2011)
    • ‘Embridry’, Profession 2011, The Modern Language Association of America, pp.89-97.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2011)
    • ‘Witnessing, Trauma and Social Suffering: Feminist Perspectives’ Australian Feminist Studies 26, pp 251-55
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2010)
    • “Remediating Gorilla Girl: Rape Warfare and the Limits of Humanitarian Storytelling’, Biography 33, 3 (summer 2010), pp.471-497
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2008)
    • ‘Letters from Nauru’, Life Writing 5,ii (November 2008), pp.203-217.
    • (2009) Reprinted in Gillian Whitlock & Kate Douglas, eds. Trauma Texts. London: Routledge, 151-165.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2008)
    • ‘From Tehran to Tehrangeles: the Generic Fix of Iranian Diasporic Memoirs.” Ariel 39, 1-2 (January-April 08), pp.7-28
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2006)
    • ‘AutoGraphics’, Modern Fiction Studies 52, 4(winter), pp.965-979
  • Whitlock, Gillian. (2004)
    • ‘Consuming Passions: Reconciliation in Women’s Intellectual Memoir’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 23,i (spring 2004), pp.13-28.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2004)
    • ‘The Skin of the Burqa: Recent Life Narratives from Afghanistan’, Biography 28.1 (winter 2005), pp.54-76.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2004)
    • ‘Merry Christmas Mary Prince’, Biography 26, 3(summer), pp.440-2.
  • Whitlock, Gillian (2001)
    • 'In the Second Person: Narrative Transactions in Stolen Generations Testimony', Biography 24,1, winter 2001, pp.197-214

Research Interests

  • Islamic Life Narrative and the 'war on terror'
    A study of recent life narratives (testimony, autoethnography and memoir) from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan that has appeared in keynote address at IABA Hong Kong, articles in 'Biography' and 'Australian Literary Studies' and the book 'Soft Weapons: Autobiography in Transit', published by Chicago University Press.
  • Postcolonial Life Narrative
    This is a project that reads both colonial and postcolonial life narrative with a particular interest in testimony: slave narrative, Truth and Reconciliation testimony in South Africa, Stolen Generations testimony in Australia and Residential School testimony in Canada, and asylum seeker testimony in particular. The focus here is on questions of how testimony becomes a powerful force for social change. This is in a forthcoming book published by Oxford UP.
  • Autographics
    This is a term introduced in 'Soft Weapons' to refer to graphic memoirs, or life narrative in the medium of comics. Marjane Satrapi's 'Persepolis', Sean Tan's graphics, Alison Bechdel's 'Fun Home' and Art Speigelman's 'Maus' are all important texts in this field. See the 'Cambridge Companion to Graphic Narrative' for my most recent work on this.
  • Posthuman Lives
    This is the title of a special issue of Biography co-edited with Tom Couser in 2012. I am interested in how testimonial narrative in particular mediates representations of the human, and how the non human and the inhuman particularly figure in autobiographical representations more often than we might think. See the special issue of Biography and my most recent writing on asylum seekers ("Protection" and "The Ends of Testimony") on this topic.
  • Resourceful Reading
    This project focusses on eResearch in Australian Literature and uses the AustLit database to generate empirical data for analysis. Currently I am researching the transits of Indigenous literature to new readerships in India, China, Europe and North America

Research Impacts

The ARC asylum seeker project is focused on the archives at the Fryer Library that document the period of the Pacific Solution between 2001-7. In association with UQAM, the State Library and the Fryer library we have continued to work with the donors of these special collections to promote humanitarian work on this topic. This led to a special exhibition at the Art Museum in 2011 on refugees and asylum seekers, and the presentation of a work of art by Ross Gibson and Carl Warner especially commissioned and based on the collection: 'Protection'. From July to August 2011 this public exhibition attracted many visitors, and there was a series of seminars on associated topics. A Fryer Library seminar in July 2011 acknowledged the donors of the collections, Elaine and Geoff Smith, and Julian Burnside and Kate Durham. We welcomed some members of the community who had been asylum seekers and activists on behalf of refugees to these events. Later that year, in October, there was a display of Kate Durham's artwork at the State Library Queensland that featured a major piece in the Fryer collection, Kate's commemoorative artwork SIEV X. This exhibition was held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the SIEV X tragedy.


  • Fellow of Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, Griffith University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Qu. (Canada)
  • Master of Arts, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), The University of Queensland


  • Whitlock, Gillian (2017) Salvage: Locating Lives in the Migration Museum. Life Writing, 14 4: 427-440. doi:10.1080/14484528.2017.1364961

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2017) Keloid geography the year in Australia. Biography-An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 40 4: 531-538. doi:10.1353/bio.2017.0043

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2017) Joe Sacco’s Australian Story. Life Writing, 14 3: 283-295. doi:10.1080/14484528.2017.1328732

View all Publications


View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • I am interested in supervising topics in both Literature and Creative Writing that relate to autobiography, biography or life narrative broadly conceived. My own current research projects are on postcolonial life narrative, graphic memoir and testimony in particular.

  • Supervision of projects on Australian literature with a particular interest in fiction and non fiction. My recent research features eResearch usng the AustLit database to map the transits of Indigenous Australian literature to readerships in Europe, North America, India and China.

  • I am most particularly interested in autographics - graphic memoir - but more generally I am available to supervise topics that focus on graphic narrative and the comics.

View all Available Projects



Book Chapter

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2016). Sorry business. In Alexandra Schultheis Moore and Sophia A. McClennen (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights (pp. 206-214) Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315778372.ch18

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2015). Autographics: the seeing I of the comics. In The Routledge autobiography studies reader (pp. x-x) London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2014). Protection. In Meg Jensen and Margaretta Jolly (Ed.), We shall bear witness: life narratives and human rights (pp. 80-99) Madison, WI, United States: University of Wisconsin Press.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2013). A testimony of things. In Tony Bennett (Ed.), challenging (the) humanities (pp. 17-32) North Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2013). Outside country: indigenous literature in transit. In Robert Dixon and Brigid Rooney (Ed.), Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature? (pp. 178-188) North Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

  • Whitlock, Gillian and Ahrens, Prue (2011). Waiting for asylum: figures from an archive. In Prue Ahrens, Michele Helmrich and Gillian Lea Whitlock (Ed.), Asylum (pp. 2-8) St. Lucia, QLD, Australia: The University of Queensland Art Museum.

  • Douglas, Kate and Whitlock, Gillian (2009). Introduction: Trauma texts: Reading trauma in the twenty-first century. In Gillian Whitlock and Kate Douglas (Ed.), Trauma texts (pp. 1-8) Oxon, UK: Routledge.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2009). Not on our watch: Celebrity campaigns from Hollywood to Darfur. In Robert Clarke (Ed.), Celebrity colonialism: Fame, power and representation in colonial and postcolonial cultures (pp. 327-343) Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2009). Voices from the past: Gender, politics and the anthology. In Katherine Bode and Robert Dixon (Ed.), Resourceful reading: The new empiricism, eResearch and Australian literary culture (pp. 274-295) Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

  • Whitlock, Gillian and Douglas, Kate (2008). Located subjects. In Fuchs, Miriam and Howes, Craig (Ed.), Teaching Life Writing Texts (pp. 214-220) New York, NY: The Modern Language Association of America.

  • Whitlock, G. L. (2007). "The animals are innocent": Latter-day women travelers in Africa. In Tiffin, H. (Ed.), Five Emus to the King of Siam: Environment and Empire (pp. 235-246) Amsterdam: Rodopi.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2006). Active remembrance: testimony, memoir and the work of reconciliation. In Annie E. Coombes (Ed.), Rethinking settler colonialism: History and memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa (pp. 24-44) Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

  • Whitlock, Gillian (2004). Becoming Migloo. In David Carter (Ed.), The ideas market: an alternative take on Australia's intellectual life (pp. 236-258) Melbourne. Australia: Melbourne University Publishing.

  • Whitlock, G. L. (2003). Disciplining the child: Recent British academic memoir. In F. Regard (Ed.), Mapping the self: Space, identity, discourse in British auto/biography (pp. 339-354) Saint-Etienne, France: Publications de l'Universite de Saint-Etienne.

  • Carter, David and Whitlock, Gillian (2003). Overviews: Institutions of Australian Literature. In Zott, L. M. (Ed.), 19th Century Literature Criticism (pp. 21-32) Farmington Hills, USA: Thomson Gale.

  • Whitlock, G. L. (2002). Instant Infamy: A Short History of Broometime. In H. Gilbert and A. Johnston (Ed.), In Transit: Travel, Text, Empire (pp. 235-254) New York: Peter Lang.

  • Whitlock, G. L. (2002). Strategic Remembering: Fabricating Local Subjects. In R. Dalziell (Ed.), Selves Crossing Cultures: Autobiography & Globalisation (pp. 114-125) Kew, Vic.: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Journal Article

Edited Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • I am interested in supervising topics in both Literature and Creative Writing that relate to autobiography, biography or life narrative broadly conceived. My own current research projects are on postcolonial life narrative, graphic memoir and testimony in particular.

  • Supervision of projects on Australian literature with a particular interest in fiction and non fiction. My recent research features eResearch usng the AustLit database to map the transits of Indigenous Australian literature to readerships in Europe, North America, India and China.

  • I am most particularly interested in autographics - graphic memoir - but more generally I am available to supervise topics that focus on graphic narrative and the comics.