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 received my PhD from University College London, with a thesis on collage in twentieth-century art, literature, and culture (focussing on Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O’Hara, and Bob Dylan). My teaching and research centres 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. I am currently working on my second book, Multiple Voices, a literary-cultural study of New York City between 1960 and 1985, which maps the poetry produced during the period back onto (and into) the city, attending in particular to the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality, and to the importance of environment, place, and space.


  • Modern American Poetry
  • Textualities and Materialities (MA Literature and Culture)
  • Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture
  • Foundation in Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture
  • The Twenties: North American Literature and Society
  • Out There: Writing North American Regions
  • New World Orders? Literature After 1945
  • Poetry
  • Discovering Digital Cultures
  • Research Skills in American and Canadian Studies

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome research proposals on any aspect of twentieth century American literature or visual culture related to my research interests.

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


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 currently working on my second book, a cultural history of New York City from the counterculture to the AIDS crisis, tentatively titled Multiple Voices, which explores the relationship between neighborhood change and the poetry written during the period.

I have also written articles or chapters on William Burroughs, Richard Yates, Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara, and Joe Brainard and John Ashbery, and am interested in the study of place, space, and movement, and in the interrelation of literature, art, and music.

I am also working on a project funded by a British Academy Small Grant, called Joe Brainard and the New York School: Material Texts and Digital Cultures (or 'Make Your Own Brainard'), which will digitize and make interactively accessible a selection of previously-unseen collage materials selected by and belonging to artist and poet Joe Brainard.

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.



Essays and journal articles

  • 'Who will help me put out this magazine?’: women poets and the mimeograph revolution in mid-century New York (in progress)
  • ‘Gastric Criticism: Digesting Naked Lunch’ (submitted to Food, Culture and Society)
  • ‘Men with a Pair of Scissors: Joe Brainard and John Ashbery’, in Joe Brainard's Art, ed. Yasmine Shamma (Edinburgh University Press, April 2019)
  • ‘Simultaneous Data: Collage in Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’ (Textual Practice, 2018)
  • ‘The Geography of Identity in The Easter Parade’, in Richard Yates and the Flawed American Dream, ed. Jennifer Daly (McFarland and co., 2017)
  • ‘no kings and queens of poetry’: Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg, New Walk 12 (Summer 2016)
  • ‘“all writing is in fact cut ups”:  the UK Web Archive and Beat literature’. Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities (Summer 2015)
  • ‘“Everything is permitted”: William Burroughs’ Cut-ups and European Art’. Comparative American Studies 11.3 (September 2013): 300-313
  • ‘“the medium is the message”: Re-reading William Burroughs, from Junky to Nova Express’. HARTS & Minds: the Journal of Humanities and Arts 1.1 (Spring 2013)
  • ‘“a body in pieces”: William Burroughs and the Torso Murderer’. Opticon1826 (May 2011)


View all publications in research portal