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.
Rutherford Extension NC38
School of English
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
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.back to top
- Marxism, Literature and Culture - EN716
- Post-45: American Literature and Culture in the Cold-War Era - EN865
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.