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)


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, examining the production and dissemination of poetry and art by and amongst the so-called 'second generation' of New York School poets.


  • Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (Convenor)
  • Foundation in Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (Convenor)
  • The Twenties: North American Literature and Society (Convenor)
  • MA Literature and Culture: Textualities and Materialities (Convenor)
  • Plays and Performance
  • Prose
  • Poetry
  • 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.


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 writing my second book, a literary-cultural study of New York City between 1960 and 1980, 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.

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.

Other activities

I write for the Times Literary Supplement, New Walk Magazine, and the European Beat Studies Network (EBSN).  I am a member of the EBSN, the British Association for American Studies (BAAS), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Literary London Society.

Conference Organisation/Co-organisation

  • Unpublished America, American and Canadian Studies Centre, University of Birmingham,  Summer 2016
  • The Poetics of Collage, Royal Holloway/Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC), Spring 2014
  • Co-convenor, Graduate Research Seminar Series, UCL, 2010/11
  • UCL Graduate Conference, London, March 2010
  • Naked Lunch@50 Symposium and Book Launch, Paris, July 2009

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



  • Multiple Voices: New York City Poetry 1960-1980 (in progress)
  • Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O’Hara, and Bob Dylan (Ashgate, 2014)

Essays and journal articles

  • 'Simultaneous Data: Collage in Allen Ginsberg's "Wichita Vortex Sutra" (in progress)
  • ‘Men with a Pair of Scissors: Joe Brainard and John Ashbery’, in On Joe Brainard, ed. Yasmine Shamma (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018)
  • ‘The Geography of Identity in The Easter Parade’, in Richard Yates and the Flawed American Dream, ed. Jennifer Daly (McFarland and co., forthcoming autumn 2017)
  • ‘Gastric Criticism: Digesting Naked Lunch’, in Space, Taste and Affect, ed. Emily Falconer (Routledge, forthcoming January 2018)
  • ‘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)