Reader in American Studies, University of Leeds

I have published several books and articles on the literature of the United States, and these works focus on Raymond Carver, Stanley Elkin, Richard Ford, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Henry David Thoreau and Richard Wright among many other canonical figures. In these writings I often dwell on the role of food and indeed of hunger in such literature, while my monograph Savage Barbecue (2008) chronicles barbecue's imperial etymology. I have also published on Black Atlantic influences on British rock music and British rap. My most recent monograph, the literary study American Tantalus (2014), relates commodity fetishism to other forms of elusive desire in US culture. I am always happy to consider PhD applications in any of these areas.

I am currently pursuing two collaborative ventures:

Sadler Seminar 15-6: FLOW: SUPERMARKETS AND THE MOVEMENT OF FOODS AND PEOPLE. This interdisciplinary seminar series considers the supermarket, a commercial form at once dominant and overlooked. Our programme reaches across the disciplines, bringing historians and literary critics into conversation with nutritionists, social scientists and psychologists, and it will culminate with a public reading from a major novelist who has also sought to pause and consider the flow of goods and people through such commercial "non-space." Within this interdisciplinary programme, my own focus remains on US literature, and specifically on those US writers, from Randall Jarrell to Toni Cade Bambara, who lived through the supermarket's initial rise to ubiquity. For more information about our project, please click here.

OLUWALE NOW. I also work closely with the David Oluwale Memorial Association, planning projects through which the city and the university can together honour the life of Oluwale and heed the lessons of his death. DOMA's website describes Oluwale's long ordeal in full detail and provides information about its memorial garden. Such memories, we believe, have a powerful role to play in ongoing debates over race, mental health, homelessness and the treatment of immigrants and refugees. On February 26 Max Farrar of DOMA and I will welcome Caryl Phillips and Gary Younge to the university for a public discussion of these issues. I will provide further information about this event in due course.

Within the School, I am the Joint Honours Coordinator for the School of English, and as such I welcome questions on academic and pastoral matters from our JH students; please feel free to email me at Since my appointment in 2003 I have also remained active in the field of Widening Participation, and as part of this continuing work I would be pleased to hear from any local or not-so-local schools.


  • –present
    Reader in American Studies, University of Leeds