School of English


David Ayers publishes mainly in the fields of modernism and critical theory. His first book, Wyndham Lewis and Western Man (1992) dealt with anti-semitism in the work of Wyndham Lewis, while his second, English Literature of the 1920s (1999) was an attempt to challenge the historiographical dominance of the paradigm of a hybrid anglo-american high modernism by tracking period themes across a range of highbrow and popular texts in Britain. Modernism: A Short Introduction (2004) introduces readers to basic elements of the process of reading classic modernist texts, and Literary Theory: A Reintroduction (2008) offers an outline of the recent history of critical theory with reference to its institutional and regional context. 

His most recent monograph, Modernism, Internationalism and the Russian Revolution (2018) attempts to rectify the comparative neglect in modernist studies of the impact of the Russian Revolution and the formation of the League of Nations. This research, which was funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship, links accounts of high modernist authors to writings by journalists, politicians and soldiers in a reconstruction of the discursive frame of reference of the period. Such well-known cultural figures as Eliot, Wells and Leonard Woolf are examined alongside journalists such as Brailsford and Farbman, other modernist writers such as Gerhardie and Cournos, politicians such as Masaryk and Trotsky, and the sculptor, journalist and novelist, Clare Sheridan, the cousin of Winston Churchill who scandalously visited the Kremlin to make busts of the Bolshevik leaders. 

David is very involved in the infrastructure of modernist studies, as a long-standing member of the organizing committee of the London Modernism Seminar, a member of the founding executive of the British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS), the former international relations Chair of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA), and Chair of the European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism studies (EAM). He was organiser of the biannual conference of the EAM at Kent in 2012; jointly organised the EAM conference at Helsinki in 2014 with Marja Härmänmaa; worked with Jean-Pierre Montier to deliver the EAM conference at Rennes in 2016, and with Moritz Baβler for the 2018 conference in Münster. With Sascha Bru he edits the book series of the EAM, published by De Gruyter, which features articles on the avant-garde in all the arts, in English, French and German. 

He is a member of the Arts, Art History and Literature panel of the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) – the Flanders Research Foundation – which allocates research funding in Belgium. 

At Kent, he was the founding director of the Centre for Modern Poetry in 2001. The aim of the Centre was to bring some of the quality and intensity of the research on modernist poetry to recent and contemporary poetry, which had been much less widely investigated. The Centre has become a hub for research into modern poetry, as well as for poetry writing and performance, and is a meeting point for distinguished visitors and the numerous students who work with us at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

Contact Information


School of English, Rutherford Extension, NC32

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Ayers, D. (2018). Modernism, Internationalism, and the Russian Revolution. [Online]. Edinburgh University Press. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2007). Literary theory: a reintroduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ayers, D. (2004). Modernism: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Ayers, D. (1999). English Literature of the 1920s. Edinburgh University UK: Edinburgh University Press.
Ayers, D. (1992). Wyndham Lewis and Western Man. [Online]. Macmillan. Available at:
Edited book
Veivo, H. et al. eds. (2017). Beyond Given Knowledge: Investigation, Quest and Exploration in Modernism and the Avant-Gardes. [Online]. Berlin: De Gruyter. Available at:
Ayers, D.S. et al. eds. (2015). Utopia : the avant-garde, modernism and (im)possible life. [Online]. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter. Available at:
Posman, S. (2013). The aesthetics of matter : modernism, the avant-garde and material exchange. [Online]. Posman, S. et al. eds. Berlin: De Gruyter. Available at:
Book section
Ayers, D. (2018). Bloomsbury and Politics. in: Ross, S. and Ryan, D. eds. The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group. Bloomsbury, pp. 253-264. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2016). Wyndham Lewis and Revolutionary Time. in: Baetens, J. et al. eds. Time and Temporality in Literary Modernism (1900-1950). Peeters. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2016). Politics. in: Bru, S., De Bruyn, B. and Delville, M. eds. Literature Now: Key Terms and methods for Literary History. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 121-134. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2016). Lewis's Cultural Criticism. in: Miller, T. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Wyndham Lewis. Cambridge University Press, pp. 125-135. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2016). Modernism's Missing Modernity. in: Marcus, L., Bradshaw, D. and Roach, R. eds. Moving Modernisms: Motion, Technology, and Modernity. Oxford University Press. Available at:
Ayers, D. and Hjartarson, B. (2015). New People of a New Life. in: Ayers, D. S. et al. eds. Utopia: The Avant-Garde, Modernism and (Im)possible life. De Gruyter, pp. 3-13. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2015). Clare Sheridan: A British Sculptress in Bolshevik Moscow. in: Friis, E. and Koch, L. eds. Tania Tender Thyme: Festskrift til Tania Ørum. Arena, pp. 113-121. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2012). Hewlett Johnson and the Cold War. in: Muehlenbeck, P. E. ed. Religion and the Cold War: A Global Perspective. US: Vanderbilt University Press.
Ayers, D. (2012). Short Manual of the Inaesthetic. in: Newall, D. M. and Pooke, G. F. eds. Fifty Key Texts in Art History. Routledge.
Ayers, D. (2011). Wyndham Lewis and the modernists: internationalism and race. in: Platt, L. ed. Modernism and Race. Cambridge University Press, pp. 156-172. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2011). Art, Nation, and Political Discourse. in: Bru, S. et al. eds. Regarding the Popular: Modernism, the Avant-Garde and High and Low Culture. Berlin: De Gruyter. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2010). Alain Badiou. in: Payne, M. and Barbera, J. R. eds. A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory. Blackwell.
Ayers, D. (2010). Mina Loy’s Insel and its Contexts. in: Potter, R. ed. The Salt Companion to Mina Loy. Salt Publishing, pp. 221-247.
Ayers, D. (2007). Modernist Poetry in History. in: Jenkins, L. M. and Davis, A. eds. The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 11-27.
Ayers, D. (2006). Frederic Jameson. in: Art: Key Contemporary Figures. Berg, pp. 175-179.
Ayers, D. (2005). Literary Criticism and Cultural Politics. in: Marcus, L. and Nicholls, P. eds. The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature. Cambridge University Press, pp. 379-395.
Ayers, D. (2002). ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle: Ford Madox Ford and The Rash Act’. in: Hampson, R. and Davenport, T. eds. Ford Madox Ford: A Reappraisal. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi Press, pp. 159-183.
Ayers, D. (2019). Weak Theory or Bad Ideas? Modernism/Modernity Print Plus [Online]. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2017). De Anima: Or, Ulysses and the Theological Turn in Modernist Studies. Humanities [Online] 6. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2016). The New Europe and the New World: Eliot, Masaryk, and the Geopolitics of National Culture. Modernist Cultures [Online] 11:8-25. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2011). Criterion i Communism/The Criterion and Communism. Otobrazhenie i interpretatsia istorii v culturye USA/Interpretation of History in American Culture:302-312.
Ayers, D. (2011). John Cournos and the Politics of Russian Literature in The Criterion. Modernism/modernity [Online] 18:355. Available at:
Ayers, D. (2007). ‘What calls for Poetry?’. Modern Studies in English Language and Literature 51:377-392.
Ayers, D. (2004). Materialism and the Book. Poetics Today 24:759-780.
Ayers, D. (1998). Richard Aldington's 'Death of a Hero': A proto-fascist novel. English [Online] 47:89-98. Available at:
Ayers, D. (1993). The long last goodbye - control and resistance in the work of burroughs, William. Journal of American Studies 27:223-236.
Ayers, D. (2005). The Oxford English literary history, vol 10, 1910-1940, The modern movement. English 54:242-244.
Ayers, D. (2002). Review of John Tranter, Heart Print and The Floor of Heaven. Poetry Review 92:90-91.
Ayers, D. (2001). Music, Race and Nation. Postcolonial Forum 16:35-38.
Ayers, D. (1997). Playing the changes: From Afro-modernism to the jazz impulse - Werner,CH. Journal of American Studies 31:116-117.
Ayers, D. (1993). Jazz - Music and background. Journal of American Studies 27:409-415.
Showing 39 of 40 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Research supervision

David has supervised PhDs dealing with the modernist short story; Nabokov; Wyndham Lewis; David Jones; James Joyce; Poetry and Performance; Middleton Murry and Dostoevsky; Apocalyptic Fiction; Arthur Schopenhauer and Henry James; Paul Bowles and William Burroughs. He currently supervises work on Olive Garnett; Sillitoe, Burgess and Malaya; Bataille and Nabokov; Huxley and psychedelics; the NHS; Joyce Carol Oates and Nietzsche. 

He is currently preparing a monograph on Utopia. 

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School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 11/04/2019