Dr Rona Cran BA, MA, PhD

Photograph of Dr Rona Cran

Department of English Literature
Lecturer in Twentieth-Century American Literature
Co-Director of American and Canadian Studies Centre

Contact details

Room 416, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My teaching and research focusses on the literature and culture of twentieth-century North America, with a particular emphasis on collage, networks of influence, and the poetry and art of New York City.


  • BA (University of York)
  • MA (University College London)
  • PhD (University College London)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


I joined Birmingham as a Teaching Fellow in 2015, and as a Lecturer in 2016. I previously taught at University College London, where I received my PhD, and I also spent several years working in student support and in the educational charity sector. 




This year, I'm teaching the final-year module 'Modern American Poetry' and the second-year module 'North America in Crisis'. I am also teaching on the first-year modules 'Discovering North American Literature', 'Discovering Digital Cultures', and 'Research Skills in American and Canadian Studies'.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome research proposals on 20th and 21st century American poetry, New York city literature and culture, the New York School, collage, textual materiality, and aspects of literary and visual culture relating to my research.

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My scholarship is interdisciplinary and focusses on twentieth-century U.S. literature and culture. I have a particular interest in the poetry, art, and music of New York City. 

My first book was entitled Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O’Hara, and Bob Dylan (Ashgate, 2014). Exploring the influence of Europe’s artist-émigrés on New York City culture from 1912 onwards, it argued that collage was both a transformative practice and a provocative theoretical model that was central to modernism and its aftermaths, revolutionizing the ways in which literature was written and art and music was made during the twentieth century.

I am now writing my second monograph, Multiple Voices: New York City Poetry, 1950-1995, which combines close reading, creative writing, and archival research, to explore the relationship between poetry and the urban, political, and social changes that the city underwent during this time, arguing that socially-situated poetry offers particular sites of resistance. I am also editing a comprehensive new anthology of New York poetry from the eighteenth century to the present day: City of the World: the Poetry of New York (under contract to Fordham University Press, 2021). 

I was recently awarded a British Academy Small Grant, for a project called Joe Brainard and the New York School: Material Texts and Digital Cultures (or 'Make Your Own Brainard'), which has digitized and made interactively accessible a selection of previously-unseen collage materials selected by and belonging to New York School artist and poet Joe Brainard. You can make your own Brainard at www.makeyourownbrainard.com

I have written or am writing articles and book chapters on New York poetry, American women poet-editors and the mimeograph revolution, Joe Brainard and John AshberyAllen Ginsberg and Frank O’HaraAllen Ginsberg and collageplace, space and identity in Richard Yates, William Burroughs and eating, and William Burroughs and art.

Other activities

I am the co-director of the American and Canadian Studies Centre at Birmingham. I also write for the Times Literary Supplement, and am a member of the European Beat Studies Network (EBSN), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the British Association for American Studies (BAAS). Recent and forthcoming events I’ve curated include:

I have a long-standing interest in widening participation and equal opportunities in academia and welcome any enquiries pertaining to any of these.


Highlight publications

Cran, R 2014, Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O'Hara, and Bob Dylan. Ashgate.

Cran, R 2019, Joe Brainard and the New York School: Material Texts and Digital Cultures (or 'Make Your Own Brainard'). University of Birmingham.

Cran, R 2019, "Men with a pair of scissors": Joe Brainard and John Ashbery’s Eclecticism. in Y Shamma (ed.), Joe Brainard's Art. Edinburgh University Press.

Cran, R 2018, 'Material language for protest: collage in Allen Ginsberg's 'Wichita Vortex Sutra'', Textual Practice. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2018.1517105

Cran, R 2017, The Geography of Identity in The Easter Parade. in J Daly (ed.), Richard Yates and the Flawed American Dream: Critical Essays. McFarland.

Recent publications


Cran, R 2021, City of the World: the Poetry of New York. Fordham University Press.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Cran, R 2020, Mess, Taste, and Gastronomic Criticism: Digesting Naked Lunch. in SE Gontarski, C Michaels & RB Stricklin (eds), Burroughs Unbound: William Burroughs and the Performance of Writing. Bloomsbury.

Cran, R 2018, Multiple voices: New York City poetry. in R Wilson (ed.), The History of New York City Literature. Cambridge University Press.

Book/Film/Article review

Cran, R 2020, 'Review: Interviews from the Edge: 50 Years of Conversations about Writing and Resistance. Ed. by Mark Yakitch and John Biguenet (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2019).', Modern Language Review, vol. 115, no. 3.

Cran, R 2019, 'Review: Spatial Poetics: Second Generation New York School Poetry. Pp. v+206 (Oxford English Monographs). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Hardback, £60.', The Review of English Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgz073

Cran, R 2018, 'Review: Do You Have A Band? Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City by Daniel Kane', ASAP Journal (The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present).

Cran, R 2018, 'Review: Tim Lawrence - Life and Death on the New York Dancefloor 1980-1983', European Journal of American Culture, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 173-194. https://doi.org/10.1386/ejac.37.2.173_5

Cran, R 2018, 'Flowing across time: Review: White Girls by Hilton Als', Times Literary Supplement.

Cran, R 2018, 'Review: the Spiritual Imagination of the Beats by John David Calonne', Modern Language Review, vol. 114, no. 1.

Cran, R 2018, 'Fiction: Review: Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo', Times Literary Supplement.

Cran, R 2017, 'Picking at Soul Scabs: a poet in dialogue with his biography', The Times Literary Supplement.

Cran, R 2017, 'Radical Oddball: the distinguished publishing life of Barney Rosset', The Times Literary Supplement.

Cran, R 2017, 'Review: Ian McMillan's To Fold The Evening Star - New and Selected Poems', New Walk Magazine.

Cran, R 2016, 'Seen in Black and White: Margo Jefferson's Negroland', Times Literary Supplement.

Web publication/site

Cran, R, Hold Onto Your Shit (Review: Rachele Dini - Consumerism, Waste, and Re-Use in Twentieth-Century Fiction: Legacies of the Avant-Garde), 2017, Web publication/site, Sulaco Publishing Company Ltd.

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