Will Carroll

Will Carroll

Department of English Literature
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD title: The emergence of small-town narrative in interwar America
Supervisors: Dr. John Fagg
PhD English Literature


  • BA (hons) English Literature with Creative Writing (University of Birmingham)
  • MA English Literature and Culture (University of Birmingham) 


My research primarily focuses on ideas of narration and representation of the American small-town in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly during the interwar period. From Sherwood Anderson's melancholic Midwestern towns, Norman Rockwell's nostalgic renderings of New England, to Willa Cather's Plains novels, I am interested in how the small-town model varies across America's vast topography and why community ideologies continue to prevail in the American consciousness.

My work is transmedial and looks at the legacy of American photography alongside literature, particularly the work of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s, as well as wider American art. I aim to question why small-town America continues to enjoy such prolific representation in American media through exploration of its narratorial origins in the early-to-mid twentieth century. 

Other research interests include domestic narratives, Americana and its attendant literature and artwork, image-building and mythmaking in American cinema, psychogeography, regionalist literature,  and women's narratives of the American frontier. 

Other activities

  • Founder of Study States - A monthly reading group for researchers and postgraduates working within American Studies, where we meet to discuss a range of interdisciplinary works (photography, art, short text) on a given theme. In association with the American and Canadian Studies Centre.
  • Articles editor for 49th Parallel, a peer-reviewed online journal for researchers of American Studies.
  • Writer and guest editor forThe Modernist Review, an online journal for Modernist researchers in association with the British Association for Modernist Studies.
  • Conferences: 'Main Streets and Dark Rooms': The legacy of modernist American photography in the works of Walker Evans and David Plowden' - New Work in Modernism  at University of Glasgow - 01/12/2018


Book reviews

  • Abigail Solomon-GodeauPhotography after Photography: Gender, Genre, History, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), ASAP Journal
  • Liam Kennedy, Afterimages: Photography and U.S Foreign Policy, (London: University of Chicago Press, 2016), U.S Studies Online
  • Nathanael T. Booth, American Small-Town Fiction 1940-1960, (Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland & Company, 2019), U.S Studies Online
  • Elsa Court, The American Roadside in Émigré Literature, Film and Photography 1955-1985Journal of American Studies, (Forthcoming 2020) 
  • Caroline Blinder, The American Photo-Text 1930-1960Comparative American Studies, (January, 2020)
  • Louise Hornby, Still Modernism: Photography, Literature, Film, Screen, 60, 4 (Winter, 2019), 632-634

Edited journal issue: 

  • 'Visual Modernisms', The Modernist Review, Issue 8. 


  • 'Common Nostalgia and Collective Memory: Norman Rockwell, Thornton Wilder and Nostalgic Visualisation of the Small-Town Myth, Question, 4 (January 2020), 46-56
  • 'Depression in the Darkroom: Ben Shahn and photographing 1930s America', The Modernist Review, Issue 2
  • 'Women of Genius: The 'revolt from the village' in Mary Austin and Willa Cather's fiction', U.S Studies Online
  • "Some obscure poet of the town": Winesburg, Ohio and the Small Town as Modernist', The Modernist Review, Issue 6.