School of History


John Wills is a scholar in American Studies/Cultural Studies. 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. He works on environmental, cultural and visual topics, in particular 1950s American society, popular tourism and nuclear landscapes, Disney and theming, California, environmental protest, cyber-culture and digital culture, and Hollywood.

In 2003, John won the C.L. Sonnichsen Award for best article in the Journal of Arizona History for a piece on the Grand Canyon. He is co-author of Invention of the Park: Recreational Landscapes from the Garden of Eden to Disney's Magic Kingdom(2005) and The American West: Competing Visions (2009), and author of Conservation Fallout: Nuclear Protest at Diablo Canyon (2006), US Environmental History: Inviting Doomsday (2012), and Disney Culture (2017) with Rutgers University Press. He has exhibited work on video games at the British Academy Summer Showcase in London (June 2018) as well as provided film essays for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board. His most recent monograph, Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press), is due out in May 2019.

John also runs the Game Studies research cluster at Kent and is the editor of the European Journal of American Culture. John is a buddhist, an avid pinball player, and a creative-type

Contact Information


Room N2.W2
Rutherford College
University of Kent

Office Hours - Details about office hours held by members of academic staff for current students on taught programmes can be found on the School of History's Moodle portals for undergraduate students and postgraduate students. For all other enquiries please contact the member of staff via the email address included on their staff profile or by contacting

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Wills, J. (2017). Disney Culture. [Online]. Rutgers University Press. Available at:
Internet publication
Wills, J. (2017). Library of Congress Film Essay: Bambi [Online]. Available at:
Wills, J. (2018). Exploding the 1950s Consumer Dream: Mannequins and Mushroom Clouds at Doom Town, Nevada Test Site. Pacific Historical Review.
Showing 3 of 39 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 06/11/2018