School of English


Will Norman is a scholar of twentieth-century American literature and culture. He has taught at Kent since 2008. He has been a Fulbright scholar at Yale University and a visiting research fellow at the University of Sydney. He is the author of two monographs, Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile and Culture in Midcentury America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), and Nabokov, History and the Texture of Time (Routledge, 2012)

Dr. Norman is currently Director of the Centre for American Studies, one of two interdisciplinary centres in the faculty of humanities. The Centre for American Studies runs undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes, as well as a PhD programme. It serves as a home for advanced research in all Americanist topics in the faculty.

Contact Information

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Norman, W. (2016). Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile, and Culture in Midcentury America. [Online]. Baltimore, United States: Johns Hopkins University Press. Available at:
Norman, W. (2012). Nabokov, History and the Texture of Time. [Online]. Routledge. Available at:
Edited book
Norman, W. and White, D. eds. (2009). Transitional Nabokov. [Online]. Oxford, UK: Peter Lang. Available at:
Book section
Norman, W. (2017). Ginsberg, Burroughs, and the Ghosts of the Avant-Garde. In: Stubbs, T. and Haynes, D. eds. Navigating the Transnational in Modern American Literature and Culture: Axes of Influence. Routledge. Available at:
Norman, W. (2009). Unpacking Nabokov's Library: Historical Materialism and the Private Collection. In: Patey, C. and Scuriatti, L. eds. The Exhibit in the Text: The Museological Practices of Literature. Oxford, UK: Peter Lang, pp. 143-159. Available at:
Norman, W. (2018). Hard-Boiled Literary History: Labor and Style in Fictions of the Culture Industry. American Literature [Online] 90:27-54. Available at:
Norman, W. (2013). The Big Empty: Chandler's Transatlantic Modernism. Modernism/modernity [Online] 20. Available at:
Norman, W. (2012). Chandler's Hardboiled England: World War II, Imperialism, and Transatlantic Exchange. [online text]. Available at:
Norman, W. (2011). Killing the Crime Novel: Martin Amis' Night Train, Genre and Literary Fiction. Journal of Modern Literature [Online] 35:37-59. Available at:
Norman, W. (2010). Transitions in Nabokov Studies. Literature Compass [Online] 7:965-976. Available at:
Norman, W. (2009). Lolita's Time Leaks and Transatlantic Decadence. European Journal of American Culture [Online] 28:185-204. Available at:
Norman, W. (2009). Nabokov's Dystopia: Bend Sinister, America and Mass Culture. Journal of American Studies [Online] 43:49-69. Available at:
Norman, W. (2007). Nabokov and Benjamin: A Late Modernist Response to History. Ulbandus [Online] 10:79-100. Available at:
Norman, W. (2006). The Real Life of Sebastian Knight and the Modernist Impasse. Nabokov Studies [Online] 10:67-97. Available at:
Internet publication
Norman, W., Meyer, P., Trousdale, R. and Peterson, D. (2015). Forum: Approaches to Teaching Nabokov's Pale Fire [Online]. Available at:
Kelly, A., Norman, W., King, R., Genter, R. and Horowitz, D. (2017). Roundtable: The Age of the Crisis of Man. Journal of American Studies [Online] 51:255-266. Available at:
Norman, W. (2016). The Cultural Cold War. Transatlantica: revue d'etudes americaines [Online]:N/A. Available at:
Norman, W. (2015). Cold War Modernists. Review of English Studies [Online] 67:198-200. Available at:
Francis, F. (2017). Dark Ages: A Study of 1980s Superhero Comics and the Nineteenth-Century American Romance.
Blundy, J. (2016). Seductive Surfaces: The Portrayal of Women and Los Angeles in Selected American Fiction.
Norman, W. (2018). The Cold War. In: Bethea, D. and Frank, S. eds. Nabokov in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 21 [See all in KAR]
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Research Interests

Will Norman’s research interests are broadly in the literature and culture of the mid-twentieth-century and post-war eras. They include the novel, political and social thought, the visual arts, Marxism, modernism, mapping, and hard-boiled fiction.

His current research project is on the idea of complicity in post-war literary and intellectual history. It asks how works of literature, from highbrow fiction to essays and crime stories, responded to the aesthetic challenge of representing states of complicity, and traces how they participated in shifting debates about race and the nature of individual responsibility in the era of post-war liberalism. As part of this project, he is also co-editing a special issue of the journal Comparative Literature Studies on complicity after 1945.

Dr Norman’s most recent book, Transatlantic Aliens, asked what happened to modernism in the United States after World War Two, using a transatlantic frame to analyze the work and careers of European writers, artists and intellectuals who migrated to America in the midcentury period. The book show how exilic figures from C. L. R. James and Theodor Adorno to George Grosz and Saul Steinberg transformed the experience and practice of alienation into a positive resource for confronting, criticizing and coping with a reconfigured postwar landscape.

His first book, Nabokov, History and the Texture of Time, examined the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov, analyzing the author’s engagement with different ideas of time in the context of the historical upheavals he lived through, such as the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust and Cold War. He also co-edited with Duncan White the collection of essays, Transitional Nabokov (Peter Lang, 2009).

Dr Norman also has a strong interest in the literary history of American crime fiction, and has written various articles on the genre. These focus on the development and function of hard-boiled style, the instability of crime genres in the cultural field and the transatlantic exchanges that have shaped the evolution of crime fiction.

He also works on the interrelation of literature and the visual arts, and recently organized with Monica Manolescu “The Cartographic Imagination: Mapping in US Art and Literature, 1945-1980” an interdisciplinary conference supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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Research supervision

Will Norman has recently supervised PhD students to completion working on “Dark Age” graphic novels in the 1980s and 90s; and on the representation of addiction in mid-twentieth century drama. He is currently supervising PhD projects on mid-twentieth century Los Angeles as a cultural frontier; and on the medicalization of women in Cold War fiction. Please contact him if you would like to discuss a potential PhD project relating to any of my research interests.


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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: 14/09/2018