Department of American and Canadian Studies


Image of Peter Messent

Peter Messent

Emeritus Professor of Modern American Literature,



I was at Nottingam for almost 40 years before retiring in Sept 2011. I was Head of the School of American and Canadian Studies in the last couple of years of my employment . My main work is in Mark Twain Studies, Ernest Hemingway Studies and Crime Fiction. I still do some academic work and my latest publication is as lead editor of The Letters of Mark Twain and Joseph Hopkins Twichell (2017).

Expertise Summary

As above. Plus all areas of nineteenth and twentieth century American fiction.

Research Summary

No large scale projects at this time though I have just complleted an essay on Mark Twain's short ficiton and am starting work on an essay on crime fiction and the police.

Selected Publications

Past Research

See publications etc.

  • PETER MESSENT, STEVE COURTNEY, HAROLD BUSH, ed., 2017. The Letters of Mark Twain and Joseph Hopkins Twichell University of Georgia Press.
  • PETER MESSENT, 2017. Crime and Detection in Mark Twain. In: ALFRED BENDIXEN AND OLIVIA CARR EDENFIELD, ed., The Centrality of Crime Fiction in American Literary Culture Routledge. 11-30
  • PETER MESSENT, 2016. Detective Van Veeteren. In: BARRY FORSHAW, ed., Detective Intellect. 142-151
  • PETER MESSENT, 2016. Character Construction and Agency: Teaching Hemingway's 'A Way You'll Never Be'. In: ALEX VERNON, ed., Teaching Hemingway and War Kent State UP. 60-76
  • PETER MESSENT, 2016. Profanities, Indcencies, and Theologies: Mark Twain's Letters to Jospeh Twichell, William Dean Howells, and Henry Rogers. In: CELESTE-MARIE BERNIER, JUDIE NEWMAN, AND MATTHEW PETHERS, ed., Nineteenth-Century American Letters and Letter-Writing Edinburgh UP. 655-668
  • PETER MESSENT, 2015. Mark Twain, White Elephants, and Siamese Twins The Mark Twain Annual. 13, 1
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2013. 'Mark Twain'. In: TIMOTHY PARRISH, ed., The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists Cambridge University Press. 42-51
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2013. Food and Drink. In: DEBRA MODDELMOG and SUZANNE DEL GIZZO, eds., Ernest Hemingway in Context Cambridge University Press. 257-266
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2013. 'Liminality and Patricia Highsmith's "The Talented Mr. Ripley"' Clues: A Journal of Detection. 31(2), 7
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2012. The Crime Fiction Handbook Wiley-Blackwell.
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2011. A re-evaluation of Mark Twain following the centenary of his death The Mark Twain Annual. 9(1), 44-64
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2010. The Police Novel. In: RZEPKA, CHARLES J. and HORSLEY, LEE, eds., A Companion to Crime Fiction Wiley-Blackwell. 175-186
  • MESSENT, P., 2010. Mark Twain: Was America's Greatest Novelist Let Down by his Country? BBC Knowledge. 38-44
  • MESSENT, P, 2010. Ernest Hemingway. In: SEED, D., ed., A Companion to Twentieth-Century Fiction in the United States Wiley-Blackwell. 240-250
  • MESSENT, P., 2009. 'The Chronicle of Young Satan' and no. 44, The Mysterious Stranger: A transnationalist reading. In: CSICSILA, J. and ROHMAN, C., eds., Centenary reflections on Mark Twain's no. 44, The Mysterious Stranger University of Missouri Press. 51-70
  • MESSENT, P., 2008. 'Not an alien but at home': Mark Twain and London. In: RYAN, A.M. and MCCULLOUGH, J. B., eds., Cosmopolitan Twain University of Missouri Press. 187-210
  • MESSENT, P., 2008. American Gothic: Liminality and the Gothic in Thomas Harris's Hanibal Lecter Novels. In: SZUMSKYJ, B., ed., Dissecting Hannibal Lecter: Essays on the Novels of Thomas Harris 1st ed. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co.. 13-36
  • MESSENT, P., 2007. Liminality, Repetition, and Trauma in Hemingway's 'Big Two-Hearted River' and Other Nick Adams Stories. In: LUCY KAY, ZOE KINSLEY, TERRY PHILLIPS AND ALAN ROUGHLEY, ed., Mapping Liminalities: Thresholds in Cultural and Literary Texts 1st. Peter Lang. 137-165
  • MESSENT, PETER, 2007. The Cambridge Introduction to Mark Twain Cambridge University Press. (In Press.)
  • MESSENT, P.B. and COURTNEY, S., eds., 2006. The Civil War letters of Joseph Hopkins Twichell : a chaplain's story Athens, GA.: University of Georgia Press.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2006. Introduction. In: MESSENT, P.B. & COURTNEY, S., ed., The Civil War Letters of Joseph Twichell: A chaplain's story University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Mark Twain, William Dean Howells and Realism. In: MESSENT, P.B. and BUDD, L.J., eds., A Companion to Mark Twain Oxford: Blackwell. 186-207
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Literary Friendships. In: American History through Literature 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 603-08
  • MESSENT, P.B. AND BUDD, L., ed., 2005. A Companion to Mark Twain Blackwell.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Memoirs of a Survivor: Masuji Ibuse's Black Rain Foreign Literature Studies. 2, 128-32
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Thomas Harris. In: Popular Contemporary Writers 5. 705-718
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Patricia Cornwell. In: Popular Contemporary Writers 4. 483-498
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. 'No Way Back Forever': American Western Myth in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy. In: BLAZEK, W. & GLENDAY, M.K., ed., American Mythologies: Essays on Contemporary Literature Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2005. Mark Twain, Manhood, The Henry H Rogers Friendship, and 'Which Was the Dream?' Arizona Quarterly. VOL 61(NUMB 1), 57-84
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2004. Tramps and Tourists: Europe in Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad The Yearbook of English Studies. VOL 34, 138-154
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2004. "The Real Thing?": Representing the Bullfight and Spain in <i>Death in the Afternoon</i>. In: MANDEL, M.B., ed., A Companion to Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon' Rochester, NY: Camden House. 123-141
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2003. Character and Agency: Teaching Mark Twain's 'A True Story' Eureka Studies in Teaching Short Fiction. 4(1), 20-31
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2003. Mark Twain, Joseph Twichell, and Religion Nineteenth Century Literature. VOL 58(PART 3), 368-402
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2002. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The Only Authoritative Text. In: McGills Literacy Annual 2002 New Jersey: Salem Press. 9-13
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2002. Good Taste? Liminality and the Gothic in Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter. In: SUTTON, P., ed., Betwixt-and Between: Essays in Liminal Geography Madrid: Gateway Press. 63-85
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2001. The Short works of Mark Twain : a critical study Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2001. Mark Twain's Racial Attitudes: Going Back to "A True Story" Mark Twain Review (Korea). 6, 49-61
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2000. Patricia Cornwell's Clues (Bowling Green). VOL 21(PART 2), 37-46
  • MESSENT, P.B., 2000. American Gothic: Liminality in Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter Novels JOURNAL OF AMERICAN AND COMPARATIVE CULTURES. VOL 23(NUMB 4), 23-36
  • MESSENT, P., 1999. Comic Intentions in Mark Twain's "A Double-Barreled Detective Story" Essays in Arts and Sciences. VOL 28, 35-52
  • MESSENT, P., 1998. Discipline and Punishment in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Journal of American Studies. VOL 32(NUMBER 2), 219-236
  • MESSENT, P., 1998. Carnival in Mark Twain's "Concerning the Jews" and "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" Studies in Short Fiction. VOL 35(PART 3), 217-232
  • MESSENT, P.B., ed., 1997. Criminal Proceedings: The Contemporary American Crime Novel Pluto Press, London.
  • MESSENT, P.B., 1997. Tw(a)in Lives Times Higher Education Supplement. December, 20
  • MESSENT,P.B., 1997. Mark Twain MacMillan Publishers Ltd, London.
  • MESSENT, P., 1996. Afterword to The American Claimant. In: The Oxford Mark Twain Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1-21
  • MESSENT, P., 1992. 'Reconstructing Papa': New Directions in Hemingway Criticism Journal of American Studies. 26(2), 269-75
  • MESSENT, P., 1992. 'Interfaces, Intimacy, Double Dealing and Betrayal: Mailer's "Harlot's Ghost"'' Overhere: An American Studies Journal. 12(2),
  • MESSENT, P.B., 1990. New Readings of the American Novel: Narrative Theory and its Application
  • MESSENT, P., 1990. 'The Rules of John Irving's World' Overhere: An American Studies Journal. 10(1), 35-47
  • MESSENT, P, KING, R and KENNEDY, L., 1989. 'Interview with Ishmael Reed' Overhere: An American Studies Journal. 9(2), 76-87
  • MESSENT, P., 1989. 'Continuity and Change in the Southern Novella'. In: LEE, A. ROBERT, ed., The Modern American Novella Vision Press. 113-38
  • MESSENT, P., 1987. 'Marginal Men: California Fiction in the Thirties'. In: ICKSTADT, H., LEE, B. and KROES, R., eds., The Thirties: Politics and Culture in a Time of Broken Dreams Amsterdam Free Press. 187-204
  • MESSENT, P., 1985. 'Toward the Absurd: Mark Twain's "A Connectiut Yankee," "Pudd'nhead Wilson" and "The Great Dark"'. In: GIDDINGS, R., ed., Mark Twain: A Sumptuous Variety Vision Press. 176-98
  • MESSENT, P., 1983. 'Mark Twain and the Magic of Science' Overhere: An American Studies Journal. 3(2), 35-44
  • MESSENT, P. and PAULIN, T., eds., 1982. Henry James: Selected Tales Dent.
  • MESSENT, P, 1981. 'Susan Glaspell,' 'Elinore Stewart,' 'Joan Didion,' 'Ishmael Reed'
  • MESSENT, P., ed., 1981. The Literature of the Occult Prentice-Hall.
  • MESSENT, P., 1976. 'American Literature: The Twentieth Century'. In: The Years Work in English Studies 1974 John Murray. 506-14, 522-65
  • MESSENT, P., 1974. '"Breakfast of Champions": The Direction of Kurt Vonnegut's Fiction' Journal of American Studies. 8, 101-14

Department of American and Canadian Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact us