Dr Nathan Waddell BA, MPhil, PhD, PGCHE, FHEA

Photograph of Dr Nathan Waddell

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Early Twentieth-Century and Modernist Literature

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach and research early twentieth-century literature, with a core emphasis on the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). All of my research is collaborative—with students, postdoctoral scholars, university administrators, and individuals based outside of higher education—and I seek always to make my teaching similarly reciprocal, treating literary scholarship as an urgent conversation about culture and its indispensable place in the world.


  • BA (University of Birmingham)
  • MPhil (University of Birmingham)
  • PhD (University of Birmingham)
  • PGCHE (University of Nottingham)
  • FHEA (Fellow of the Higher Education Academy)


I’m a Senior Lecturer in Birmingham’s Department of English Literature, where I’ve worked since October 2017. Between 2012 and 2017 I worked in the School of English at the University of Nottingham. Before that, between 2008 and 2012, I taught at the University of Birmingham, where I also studied for my BA, MPhil, and PhD degrees. I attended a secondary school in Somerset and grew up in the West Country.


Although my teaching now tends to concentrate on early twentieth-century literature, I’ve worked with students selectively across English literary history from the 1300s to the present. In the 2018-19 academic year I’ll be teaching and lecturing on the following modules:

  • UG year 2: ‘Aspects of Modernism’
  • UG final year: ‘Orwell’s Book: Deciphering Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • MA: ‘Modernism’

Postgraduate supervision

I’m particularly interested in supervising MA, MRes, and PhD candidates in my core research area—i.e. the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957—but I’m happy to consider projects on material related to modernism more widely, and to the work of Ford Madox Ford, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.


To date my research has focused on literary modernism; Anglo-American dystopian fiction between the First and Second World Wars; and musico-literary relations, particularly the links between early twentieth-century writing and so-called ‘classical’ composers. My interests include questions to do with music, politics, dystopia, and text editing:

  • Music: I’ve recently finished writing a monograph on Beethoven and literary modernism, for Oxford University Press. I’ve also worked on the role of music in the writings of Aldous Huxley and Ford Madox Ford (see publications, below).
  • Politics: I’ve written widely about politics in relation to the work of Wyndham Lewis, whose entire output forms the focus of a monograph I’m preparing for Princeton University Press on the subject of tyranny and dystopia. The book will situate Lewis in relation to Huxley, George Orwell, and Rebecca West.
  • Dystopia: In addition to the material on Lewis mentioned above, I have an abiding interest in dystopian fiction and film, and I’ve taught both at undergraduate level for several years. This research-led teaching led me to edit a collection of essays on Huxley’s Brave New World (see publications, below). I am also currently preparing to edit The Cambridge Companion to ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’
  • Text editing: I’m working on a scholarly edition of Wyndham Lewis’s little-known novel Snooty Baronet (1932), for Oxford University Press.

I regularly speak about my research at academic conferences and at public institutions. Recent talks include: 

  • ‘Work in Focus: “Portrait of T. S. Eliot” by Wyndham Lewis’ (The Royal Academy of Arts, London, July 2018)
  • ‘Katherine Mansfield, George Meredith, and Beethoven’s Hearing Eyes’ (CLEMT Summer Symposium, University of Birmingham, May 2018)
  • ‘Beethoven, Dorothy Richardson, and Musicology’ (Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide, University of Birmingham, April 2018)
  • ‘Ford Madox Ford’s Evanescent Cities’ (The City as Modernist Ephemera, London South Bank University, June 2017)
  • ‘Moonlighting: Beethoven, Literature, and the First World War’ (Modern Literature Graduate Seminar, University of Oxford, January 2017)
  • ‘Beethoven and British Literature, 1902-1927’ (Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, November 2016)
  • Facing Beethoven: Literature, Sculpture, and Identity’ (Royal Society of Edinburgh, September 2016) 
  • ‘Problems, Possibilities, and Polemics: Taking the Arrows of Wyndham Lewis’ (Editing Modernism, Edinburgh Napier University, May 2016)

Other activities

With my colleague Dr Chris Mourant, I co-direct Birmingham’s Centre for Modernist Cultures. Aside from that, a lot of my professional activity is concerned with supporting the scholars who research the life and work of the modernist painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). I’m current Chairperson of the Wyndham Lewis Society; co-editor of The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies; and a member of the Editorial Board of the Wyndham Lewis Complete Critical Edition commissioned by Oxford University Press. As of 2017 I have been a trustee of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust, a registered charity which promotes the study and preservation of Lewis’s output.


  • ‘H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds and the Crimson Map of Empire’, emagazine: The Magazine for Advanced Level English, 80 (April 2018): 20-22
  • ‘Modernism and Music: A Review of Recent Scholarship’, Modernist Cultures, 12.2 (Spring 2017): 316-30
  • ‘Signs of the T: Aldous Huxley, High Art, and American Technocracy’, in Jonathan Greenberg and Nathan Waddell (eds), ‘Brave New World’: Contexts and Legacies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016): 31-49
  • ‘Lawrence Atkinson, Sculpture, and Vorticist Multimediality’, Modernism/modernity Print Plus, 1.3 (September 2016): n.p.
  • BLAST (1914-15)’, in Stephen Ross (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism (Routledge, 2016): online
  • ‘Lewis and Fascism’, in Tyrus Miller (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Wyndham Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016): 87-99
  • ‘Lewis and Politics’, in Andrzej Gąsiorek and Nathan Waddell (eds), Wyndham Lewis: A Critical Guide (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015): 128-42
  • ‘Wyndham Lewis’s “Very Bad Thing”: Jazz, Inter-War Culture, and The Apes of God’, Modernist Cultures, 8.1 (Spring 2013): 61-81
  • ‘Providing Ridicule: Wyndham Lewis and Satire in the Postwar-to-end-war World’, in Alice Reeve-Tucker and Nathan Waddell (eds), Utopianism, Modernism, and Literature in the Twentieth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013): 56-73
  • ‘Bohemian Retrospects: Ford Madox Ford, Post-War Memory, and the Cabaret Theatre Club’, in Kate McLoughlin (ed.), The Modernist Party (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013): 192-209
  • (ed. with Kate Macdonald), John Buchan and the Idea of Modernity (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013)
  • ‘Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight: An Unacknowledged Adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent?’, Adaptation, 6.1 (February 2013): 43-59
  • ‘John Buchan’s Amicable Anti-Modernism’, The Journal of Modern Literature, 35.2 (Winter 2012): 64-82
  • Modernist Nowheres: Politics and Utopia in Early Modernist Writing, 1900-1920 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • ‘Technocracy and the Fordian Arts: America, The American Mercury, and Music in the 1930s’, in Sara Haslam and Seamus O’Malley (eds), Ford Madox Ford and America, International Ford Madox Ford Studies Vol. 11 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012): 167-80
  • (with Alice Reeve-Tucker), ‘Wyndham Lewis, Evelyn Waugh, and Inter-War British Youth: Conflict and Infantilism’, in Andrzej Gąsiorek, Alice Reeve-Tucker, and Nathan Waddell (eds), Wyndham Lewis and the Cultures of Modernity (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011): 163-82
  • ‘Modernist Coteries and Communities’, in Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gąsiorek, Deborah Longworth, and Andrew Thacker (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010): 740-61
  • ‘Buchan and the Pacifists’, in Kate Macdonald (ed.), Reassessing John Buchan: Beyond ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009): 91-101
  • Modern John Buchan: A Critical Introduction (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009)
  • 'Pathology in John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps’, The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language, 1.2 (2008): 4-11