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Faculty Expertise in 20th- and 21st-Century British and American Literatures

The 20th and 21st centuries have been a time of both astonishing and catastrophic technological, cultural and environmental changes. In grappling with these transformations, novelists, poets, playwrights and directors have forged new forms, experimented with new media and sought new sources of inspiration.  The enduring masterpieces of this era, by writers from James Joyce and Jean Toomer to Virginia Woolf and Claude McKay, from James Baldwin and Thomas Pynchon to Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston, from Claudia Rankine and Tommy Orange to Hilary Mantel and Ian McEwan, become further complicated and enriched when we analyze them with an eye toward the histories of imperial, economic, racial, gender and political conflict that shaped them.   

The Ohio State University Department of English hosts a large group of scholars specializing in multiple areas of British, American and Anglophone 20th- and 21st-century literature and culture. Students can expect to receive firm grounding in some of the traditional fields and subfields — modernism, postmodernism, Global Anglophone, postcolonial — and undertake courses of study that extend and challenge some of the most dearly held beliefs of those areas. Our faculty routinely offer courses that plot modern and contemporary literature within global and transnational frameworks; we investigate the unique ways literary and cultural objects unfold the deeply entangled histories of race, gender, sexuality, migration, colonialism and ecological violence, ways that often speak directly to the most pressing problems we currently face. We also pride ourselves on a capacious and flexible understanding of modern and contemporary culture. For us, the 20th and 21st centuries are incomplete without the rigorous study of a host of forms, genres and media, including comics, graphic narratives, film, activist writing, zines, performance and new media.  


  • Michelle Ann Abate: Children’s and young adult literature, comics studies, LGBTQ studies, U.S. popular culture
  • Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́: Anglophone African literature, deconstruction, Marxism, African American literature
  • Jian Chen: Transgender and queer studies; Asian Pacific/American studies; comparative racial analysis; literary, cultural and social theories; film, performance, digital media and visual studies; post-semiotic literary and visual forms; transnational approaches
  • Tommy Davis: 20th- and 21st-century literature and culture, environmental and energy humanities, the novel, aesthetics and politics
  • Frank Donoghue: Theory and history of U.S. higher education
  • Ryan Friedman: Film studies, African American literature, critical theory, 20th-century American literature
  • Jared Gardner: Comics studies, popular culture studies, 20th- and 21st-century science fiction
  • John Hellmann (Lima campus): 20th- and 21st-century U.S. film and literature (especially the 1960s), Vietnam War, Alfred Hitchcock, film noir
  • Norman W. Jones (Mansfield campus): 20th- and 21st-century literature, William Faulkner, the Bible and literature, sexuality studies, intersectionality
  • Koritha Mitchell: African American literature (especially of the late-19th and early-20th centuries), violence in U.S. literature and contemporary culture, black drama and performance, U.S. women's literature, U.S. feminisms
  • Sean O'Sullivan: Film and television studies, narrative, seriality, 19th-century British literature
  • Jim Phelan: 20th- and 21st-century literature (especially the novel and memoir), narrative and narrative theory (especially rhetorical approaches), narrative medicine, medical humanities
  • Martin Joseph Ponce: Asian American, African American and comparative U.S. ethnic literatures; U.S. empire studies; diaspora studies; gender and sexuality studies
  • Jessica Prinz: 20th- and 21st-century literature (British and American), literature and science, language in 20th- and 21st-century visual art
  • Jesse Schotter: 20th-century British and American literature, modernist culture, film studies, media studies, literature and travel, video games studies, Egyptian literature
  • Elizabeth Sheehan: Late-19th- and 20th-century American and British literatures, visual and material culture, fashion theory, periodical studies, affect studies, studies of race and ethnicity, and feminist theory.
  • Antony Shuttleworth: 19th-century British and American literature, 20th-century British and American literature, British Romantic and Victorian literature, creative writing (poetry), critical theory


  • Morris Beja: 20th-century British and Irish literature, film studies, the novel, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf
  • Katherine Burkman
  • Walter Davis
  • Sebastian Knowles: James Joyce and Irish literature, music and literature, literature of war, comparative literature (French and German), modernist literature in context, genetic reading of modernist texts, T. S. Eliot and British poetry, 20th-century fiction
  • Valerie Lee: American literature, African American literature, folklore studies, gender and sexuality studies
  • Jeredith Merrin: 20th-century British and American literature
  • Brian McHale: 20th- and 21st-century English-language fiction and poetry, postmodernism, narrative poetry, science fiction, Thomas Pynchon 


  • English 2202: British Literature, 1800-present
  • English 2291: American Literature, 1865-present
  • English 4543: Twentieth-Century British Fiction
  • English 4547: Twentieth-Century Poetry
  • English 4549: Modern Drama
  • English 4562: Studies in Literature and the Arts

Recent topics have included:

  • English 4563: Contemporary Literature
  • English 4590.06H: The Modern Period
  • English 4590.07H: Literature in English after 1945
  • English 6766: 20th-Century Literature — 1900-1945
  • English 6767: 20th-Century Literature — 1945-Present
  • English 7860: Seminar in 20th-Century British/U.S. Literature


Humanities Institute