School of English

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Nathan Waddell

Assistant Professor in Literary Modernism, Faculty of Arts



I'm an Assistant Professor in Nottingham's School of English. I studied for my B.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where I was supervised by Andrzej Gasiorek. I write informally about culture and universities on my blog, studentcraft.

Expertise Summary

I teach and research many areas of twentieth-century culture and I enjoy reading and talking about literary, cinematic, and musical works from various time periods. I'm particularly interested in the writer and painter Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957): I edit the specialist publication devoted to his literary and visual outputs, The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies; sit on the Editorial Board of the Oxford University Press Complete Edition of his fiction and non-fiction; and have published widely on his writing. More broadly, I'm fascinated by the relationship between archival scholarship, historical interpretations of culture, and close reading, viewing, and listening. I aim to explore these different ways of approaching works of art through conversations with students and research collaborations with other academics.

Teaching Summary

Teaching is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Every generation of students I encounter teaches me new things about culture (especially the stuff I think I know inside out), reminding me… read more

Research Summary

I'm currently researching three interrelated areas: literature and music; the writings of Wyndham Lewis; and twentieth-century dystopias. For more information, click on the 'Research' tab (above).

Selected Publications

I'm fascinated by the life, writings, and paintings of that grumpiest of grumpy modernists, Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), one of the early twentieth century's most innovative avant-gardists and a highly controversial philosopher, sociologist, literary critic, and political thinker. Lewis intrigues me not only because of his compelling prose and artworks, but also because of those moments in his career when he failed to live up to his best moral and intellectual standards, bringing justified disrepute upon himself in the process. In my research I aim to contextualise his ideas and narrative methods without simplistically apologising for his ideological faults. Aside from my publications, I contribute to Lewis studies in the following ways:

I regularly collaborate with the international community of Lewis enthusiasts and I'm particularly keen to help postgraduates and early career scholars establish themselves in the field, which has benefited enormously from the activities of the Wyndham Lewis Society, whose website I maintain. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to submit an article to The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies or for the Wyndham Lewis Trust Memorial Prize (links above).

Teaching is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Every generation of students I encounter teaches me new things about culture (especially the stuff I think I know inside out), reminding me that university research must stay in dialogue with undergraduates and postgraduates if it wants to be fresh, relevant, interesting, and useful. Since I began teaching in 2008, I've worked with students across a sizeable timeline of American, English, Irish, and Scottish narratives, from the fourteenth century to the present day, with particular concentrations on literary dystopias and modernist fiction.

At present I'm co-supervising a lively bunch of Ph.D. students, who are working on a range of exciting topics at the cutting-edge of their respective subjects:

  • Gabrielle Bunn, 'Formations of the Apocalypse'
  • Emily Heathcote, 'Postmodernist Literature and Postmodernist Editing'
  • Hollie Johnson, 'Ecodystopia: Environmental Apocalypse and the Ecocidal Imagination'
  • Emma Zimmerman, 'Architexture: Space, Form, and the Modernist Novel'

Most of my research deals with the writings of Wyndham Lewis. For the foreseeable future I'll be investigating Lewis's work alongside questions relevant to literary dystopias, power politics, fascism, and totalitarianism. In the years ahead, therefore, I'll especially want to supervise doctoral students working on early to mid twentieth-century literature in relation to any of these and/or cognate areas, preferably with reference to Lewis's written output.

I will be on research leave throughout the 2016 Spring Semester.

Past Research

I've researched a lot of different things over the past decade. My focal points have been the works of John Buchan, Ford Madox Ford, Aldous Huxley, and Wyndham Lewis, in relation to broad problems to do with cultural history, politics, and musico-literary interactions. Throughout, I've tried to ask and answer questions about the politics of literary forms and the relevance of authors' non-fiction to their fiction, situating literary production in artistic, bibliographic, political, and philosophical contexts. A lot of this work has been collaborative, involving scholars in the UK and beyond, and all of it has benefited from being scrutinised in different circumstances by various groups of people, ranging from chats with friends and family, to questions asked by academics at conferences and research seminars, to conversations with undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Future Research

I'm preparing several mid- and long-term publications:

  • a book about literary appropriations of Beethoven in British modernism between the World Wars;
  • a scholarly edition of Lewis's little-known novel Snooty Baronet (1932), for Oxford University Press;
  • a review essay on recent academic books investigating modernism, literature, and music;
  • a co-edited, four-volume Encyclopaedia of Anglophone Modernist Literature, for Wiley-Blackwell;
  • and a book about Lewis's fiction in relation to twentieth-century politics, for Princeton University Press.

Alongside this work I will continue to sit on the Editorial Board of the Wyndham Lewis Complete Critical Edition (Oxford University Press) and to edit The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies.

School of English

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