The Americanists

Article

One of the first London universities to offer a dedicated pathway in the Literature and Culture of the United States, the American research cluster at Goldsmiths offers a vital contribution to the disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields that are currently shaping the understanding of American literature and culture.

Offering an extensive and varied understanding of American literature, our collective research focuses on a number of significant and growing fields, including visual culture, eco-criticism, hemispheric American Studies, group biography and aesthetic resistance in contemporary indigenous literature and art. Our research explores many of the key topics that shaped American literature and culture during the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. By engaging with a broad set of interests our work shows that current understandings of literary convention and traditional form can be enriched—and challenged—through the consideration of material objects, oral traditions, performance art and inventive literary and artistic practices.

We take great pride in the fact that our pioneering research reflects our mission to embrace the more complex perceptions of American literature, society and history that exist today. Our writing is informed by this principle, and we are deeply committed to the process of establishing dynamic pedagogical approaches that both reveal and enable more diverse means of understanding U.S. literature and culture. Our research is greatly informed by our teaching, and our teaching serves as a constant reminder of the interests and issues that are most pressing in today’s world.

Dr Padraig Kirwan

Dr Padraig Kirwan

Dr Padraig Kirwan is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture and specializes in contemporary Native American literature. Although his primary research interest is the tribal literatures of the Americas, he is also interested in Irish fiction, Transatlantic Studies, Border Studies and fictional engagements with extra-textual questions surrounding sovereignty.

His first book was Sovereign Stories: Aesthetics, Autonomy and Contemporary Native American Writing (2013). He is currently writing a monograph titled Unsettling Irishness: American Culture and Contemporary Irish Fiction. Padraig is currently co-editing and contributing to three forthcoming essay collections: Famine Pot: Choctaw & Irish Exchanges 1848-Present (with LeAnne Howe), and The Art of Resistance and Resurgence (two volumes, with David Stirrup). In 2008 he co-edited Affecting Irishness: Negotiating Cultural Identity within and beyond the Nation with James Byrne and Michael O’Sullivan. Padraig has published essays in journals NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Comparative Literature, and the Journal of American Studies. He has also written articles for the Times Higher Education magazine and The Conversation.

Padraig is the Literary Encyclopaedia’s Area Editor for Native American Literature and Culture, and has peer-reviewed essays for Modern Language Quarterly, Comparative Literature, American Indian Quarterly, Journal of American Studies, Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), and Palgrave Macmillan. In 2015 he was awarded a Public Engagement Award by Goldsmiths for his work on the relationship between the Choctaw Nation and the people of Ireland. Padraig has been both a Fulbright scholar (UCLA) and a recipient of an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences funding. He has co-organized three major international 3-day conferences, the most recent of which was the American Indian Workshop (2018).

Dr Rick Crownshaw

Dr Rick Crownshaw

Dr Rick Crownshaw is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, where he teaches mainly American literature. Rick received his BA from Keele University and his MA and DPhil from the University of Sussex. Before Goldsmiths, Rick taught at Keele and then Manchester Metropolitan University. Rick’s research has mostly focused on American literature and culture but often within transnational and even planetary contexts.

His research career began with an interest in US representations of the Holocaust, which informed his first book, The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). This, in turn, led to a more general interest in Memory and Trauma Studies – resulting in the co-edited books Transcultural Memory (Routledge 2014) and The Future of Memory (Berghahn 2010, 2013) – and a continuation of his interests in post-1945 and contemporary US fiction upon which he has published in a number of scholarly journals. More recently Rick has turned his attention to the Environmental Humanities and the literature of the Anthropocene. He has co-edited, with Stef Craps, a special issue of the journal Studies in the Novel (2018) on climate change fiction, published journal articles on US climate change fiction, and is currently finishing a monograph, Remembering the Anthropocene in Contemporary American Fiction.

Rick sits on the editorial board for the journal Memory Studies and peer-reviews for a number of leading journals and publishers in literary studies and cultural studies. He is a founding partner of Mnemonics, an international network of scholars and their institutions that provides research training in memory studies for doctoral students. 

Dr Nicole King

Dr Nicole King

Dr Nicole King is Lecturer in American Literature and Culture with a specialisation in African American literature, particularly fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is also interested in transnational and hemispheric American Studies, including the Anglophone Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora (Goldsmiths students also have the opportunity explore Caribbean literature with specialist, Professor Joan Anim-Addo). 

Nicole's first book was C.L.R. James and Creolization (University of Mississippi Press, 2001) and she has published a variety of shorter pieces including chapters focused on teaching African American fiction and crime fiction which appear in Teaching 21st Century Genres (Palgrave 2016) and Teaching Literature (Palgrave 2017), and an article on feminist creolisation in the work of Zadie Smith (2009).

Nicole is currently writing a monograph, Black Childhood in Modern African American Fiction, which compares twentieth-century African American texts and their depiction of racialisation whilst introducing childhood as a critical category for understanding representations of 20th-century black identities. 

Nicole takes an active part in professional life beyond Goldsmiths and currently serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of American Studies and as a Trustee of the English Association. She helped organise two major international conferences in 2017: the American Studies Annual Meeting (Chicago) and the English: Shared Futures Conference (Newcastle). Nicole regularly reviews essays and manuscripts for Callaloo, Comparative American Studies, Journal of American Studies, Feminist Review, Palgrave MacMillan and Edinburgh University Press.

Dr Caroline Blinder

Dr Caroline Blinder

Dr Caroline Blinder is Reader in American Literature and Culture with a specialization in the intersections between literature and visual culture, in particular 20th century American writing and Documentary photography. Her first book was A Self-made Surrealist - Ideology and Aesthetics in the work of Henry Miller (Camden House 2000). She has published extensively on photo-textual intersections and is the editor of New Critical Essays on James Agee and Walker Evans: Perspectives on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 2010.

She has published widely on both European photographers, Brassaï, Kertész and Doisneau, and on U.S. photographers/writers such as Wright Morris, Walker Evans, and Weegee, amongst others. 

Caroline’s forthcoming monograph The American Photo-Text: 1930-1960 (EUP, 2019) – a critical survey of Documentary studies of the United States, reflects her teaching at both MA and undergraduate level on the 1930s, 40s and 50s. She has and continues to supervise PhD projects on a wide array of topics – from Deserts in Post-Colonial Literature, Robert Frank, British Women Detective writers and more recently on Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, and Emersonian Aesthetics.