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Dr John Connor

Lecturer in Literature and Politics

Tel 020 7848 6378
Address Department of English
King's College London
Room 7.21 Virginia Woolf Building 
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE

Office hours document available here




I joined King’s in September 2017 after six years teaching at Colgate University, a liberal arts college in upstate New York. I earned my BA in English at the University of Cambridge, and my MA and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Research interests and PhD supervision

I am a scholar of modernism and the mid-twentieth century, of Left literary history and of modern cultural and intellectual history more generally. My main research concerns the novel, its circulation and critical reception, with a particular interest in how modernism and realism came to name competing aesthetic ideologies and spheres of influence in the hot wars of the 1930s and 1940s and in the Cold War thereafter.

My book manuscript, Modernism, Socialist Culture and the Historical Novel, is a revisionary history of the historical novel from Romanticism to the present. Its central chapters detail a revival of the form in the literary cultures of British Late Modernism and international Socialism. It tells the story of how a form, then and since thought dead to the world, was brought back to life, how it fought fascism in Europe and colonialism abroad to lay the groundwork for two of the most influential critical and creative projects of the late twentieth century: magical realism and radical social history. A second project, of which I am in the early stages, investigates the careers and reputations of British proletarian, Communist and anti-colonial writers in the Soviet Second World.

I welcome PhD proposals in any aspect of twentieth-century Left literary culture, historical fiction, the history and geopolitics of the modern novel.
Selected publications

‘Communism and the Working Class.’ The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the 1930s, ed., James Smith. (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

‘Anglo-Soviet Relations in the Long 1930s.’ The Cambridge History of 1930s British Literature, ed., Benjamin Kohlmann and Matthew Taunton. (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

‘Raymond Williams, Modern Tragedy and the Affective Life of Politics.’ Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism. Special issue on ‘Raymond Williams and Theatre.’ No.15 (2017)

People of the Black Mountains and the Politics of Theory.’ Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism No.13 (2015), 96-116.

‘Jack Lindsay, Socialist Humanism and the Communist Historical Novel.’ The Review of English Studies 66, No., 274 (April, 2015), 342-363.

 ‘Historical Turns in Twentieth Century Fiction.’ The Blackwell Companion to British Literature Vol.4, ed., Heesok Chang, Robert de Maria Jr. and Samantha Zacher (Blackwell, 2013), 314-332.


My teaching explores the intersection of literature and politics, from the fourteenth century to the present, and in texts from around the world. The undergraduate modules I have convened or taught at King’s include: Reading Poetry, Language in Time, Language on the Edge, and Politics & Literature. I also offer an MA module called Realism and Its Others in the Long Twentieth Century.

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