Portrait of Dr John Wills

Dr John Wills

Reader in American History and Culture
Director of the Centre of American Studies


Dr John Wills is a scholar in American cultural and environmental issues. He studied at Warwick University (BA History and Politics) and Bristol University (MA Contemporary History and PhD in American Environmental History), before teaching in the Sociology department at the University of Essex. In September 2005, he took up a post at the University of Kent, teaching in the School of History and the Centre for American Studies.
His research and teaching interests bridge several disciplines, most notably history, sociology, cultural studies and game studies. 

Research interests

John works on environmental, cultural and digital topics, including 1950's American society, nuclear landscapes, amusements and theme parks, environmental protest, video games, California and Hollywood.

Since 2009, John has served as editor of the European Journal of American Culture (Intellect), an interdisciplinary cultural studies journal. He is the author of six books, including Conservation Fallout: Nuclear Protest at Diablo Canyon (2006), US Environmental History: Inviting Doomsday (2012), Disney Culture (2017), and most recently, Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture (2019) with Johns Hopkins University Press.

John has exhibited his work on video games at the British Academy Summer Showcase in London (June 2018), spoken about dystopian gaming at the Being Human Festival (2019), as well as provided film essays for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board. He is currently writing a monograph on Doom Town, an experimental town at Nevada Test Site in the 1950s, and with Esther Wright, editing a book on Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption game series.

Active in the digital community, John is a member of the Historical Game Studies Network, the Videogame Heritage Society, and the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (the latter based here at Kent). 


John teaches on American cultural and environmental history. 


John supervises postgraduate research on US environmentalism, parks and recreation, nuclear issues, Disney, and video games. 

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