School of English and Drama

English menu

Dr David James, BA (Birmingham) MSt. (Oxford) DPhil (Sussex)

Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature



David James

My work focuses on the twentieth- and twenty-first-century novel, with a particular emphasis on the political and ethical aspects of formal innovation in contemporary world Anglophone writing. I joined Queen Mary in 2012 after lecturing for a number years in the School of English at the University of Nottingham. I undertook a joint honours English and Drama programme at Birmingham, before working in gender studies and interwar women’s writing for a Masters at Oxford, after which I pursued a DPhil on contemporary fiction at Sussex. For several years my research has continued to move across modernist studies and contemporary literature in order to think about how these fields might have useful conversations with each other.


Undergraduate teaching:

In the 2014-15 academic year, I am on Leverhulme-funded research leave completing work on my co-edited collection of essays, Modernism and the Ethics of Close Reading, and continuing to work on my next monograph, Consolation and the Novel in an Age of Terror.


Research interests:

  • The contemporary novel
  • Modernist literature and culture
  • The politics of form
  • Literary geographies

Recent and On-Going Research

My research spans twentieth- and twenty-first-century writing, focusing especially on developments in the novel as a form. My first book, Contemporary British Fiction and the Artistry of Space (2008), forged dialogues between narrative theory and cultural geography, an approach I advanced in a number of articles on late-modernist regional writers. My most recent monograph, Modernist Futures (Cambridge University Press, 2012), considers the implications of the reanimation of modernist aesthetics in contemporary American, British and world Anglophone fiction. I have edited several collections including The Legacies of Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which brings together an international cast of scholars to historicize the response of postwar novelists to the formal, political and intellectual consequences and continuities of literary modernism. Other collaborative work has involved two journal special issues: the first, edited with Andrzej Gasiorek (Birmingham), for Contemporary Literature (53.4) on ‘Fiction since 2000: Post-Millennial Commitments’; and the second, edited with Nathan Waddell (Nottingham), for Modernist Cultures (8.1) on ‘Musicality and Modernist Form’.

This editorial strand of research continues on a number of fronts. Currently I’m editing The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction since 1945 (due out in 2015). With Matthew Hart (Columbia) and Rebecca Walkowitz (Rutgers), I edit the book series Literature Now at Columbia University Press. The series is the first of its kind to welcome contemporary projects that are comparative and transnational in scope, as well as those focused on national and regional literary cultures.


Selected Publications:

'Metamodernism: Narratives of Revolution and Continuity', co-authored with Urmila Seshagiri, PMLA, 129.1 (January 2014), 87-100

‘“Style is Morality”? Aesthetics and Politics in the Amis Era’, Textual Practice, 26 (2012), 11-25

‘A Renaissance for the Crystalline Novel’, Contemporary Literature, 53 (2012), 845-74

Modernist Futures: Innovation and Inheritance in the Contemporary Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

‘Integrity after Metafiction’, Twentieth Century Literature, 57 (2011), 492-515

‘Modernist Narratives: Revisions and Re-readings’, in The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms, ed. by P. Brooker, A Gasiorek, D. Longworth, and A. Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

‘Localizing Late Modernism: Interwar Regionalism and the Genesis of the “Micro Novel”’, Journal of Modern Literature, 32 (2009), 43-64

Contemporary British Fiction and the Artistry of Space: Style, Landscape, Perception (Continuum, 2008)

See also my Queen Mary Research Publication profile


PhD Supervision

I have supervised a range of doctorates to completion, including theses on contemporary nature writing, on ethical issues in cosmopolitan fiction, and on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century responses to Aestheticism. I would welcome for supervision projects on modernist literary culture, narrative theory, and contemporary American, British, Irish and world Anglophone fiction.

Public engagement

Bookmark and Share
Return to top