Aaron Bartels-Swindells holds an M.A. (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, an M.Phil. in Criticism and Culture from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in English with a certificate in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to Penn, he was a Fox International Fellow in the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. He specializes in global Anglophone literatures and global Black literatures, specifically those from Sub-Saharan Africa, with additional interests in postcolonial studies, theories of the novel, and critical and literary theory. His research has appeared in Representations, African Identities, and Post45: Contemporaries.
Aaron's Ph.D. dissertation, "Impossible Realisms: Genre and Apartheid, 1902-1973," closely reads literary texts by writers such as Sol Plaatje, Nadine Gordimer, and the short story writers of Drum magazine to offer a new understanding of the motive forces behind realist fiction in twentieth-century South Africa.
Aaron was an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Dissertation Fellow in the Humanities, Urbanism and Design (H+U+D) Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania during the 2020-21 academic year. While at Penn, he has also received Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) awards to study Afrikaans and isiZulu, and participated in a Fulbright-Hayes Group Project Abroad to South Africa.