Francis Williams

Francis Williams

Department of English Literature
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Breaking the Mask: Exploring Masculinity in the New York School Poets 
Supervisors: Dr Rona Cran, Dr John Fagg and Dr Luke Kennard
PhD English Literature


  • BA (hons) History and ACS (University of Birmingham)
  • MA Creative Writing (University of Birmingham)


I originally came to Birmingham in 2015 to undertake my Undergraduate Studies, and through my extended stay at the University have forged excellent working relationships with scholars in several different departments. I am a published poet, with professional experience in journalism and editorial work. I am also the Creative Editor of the peer-reviewed Birmingham Journal of Literature. My MA thesis explored comparative masculinity between O’Hara and McGough, and uncovered a hole in the scholarly discussion regarding the gender performativity of the New York School poets which my research hopes to fill.

Outside of academia I represent the University at Water Polo, am a long-suffering Bradford City fan and have had writing published on topics as varied as sports science, astrology and professional wrestling.


My research focuses on the concept of masculinity within the work of the New York School Poets, focusing specifically on Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Ron Padgett and Frank Lima with the scope to expand. My thesis will explore the differing ways in which the poets approach manhood through their work and aims to outline a unique model of performative masculinity specific to the New York School. I contend that O’Hara’s work exists in an idiosyncratic space between the normative 1950s male and the ‘othering’ gay masculinity that it has typically been seen to fit into.

Other research interests include Contemporary English and American Poetry, Surrealism and Absurdism, ‘Gonzo’ Journalism, and Comedic Writing.