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Dr John Connor

Lecturer in Literature and Politics

Research interests

  • Literature
  • Politics


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. For more details, please see my full research profile.


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.