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.

When I'm not thinking about literature, I tend to be thinking about, playing, or listening to music. This tends to be nineteenth- and early twentieth-century piano music, but if music moves me, or gets my feet tapping, or makes me want to hum, sing, or whistle, I'll listen to it obsessively, no matter the genre, period, style, or instrumentation. My current earworms are Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' and Lana Del Rey's 'Love'.

I've written about Beethoven at length here, and I have an ambition, one day, to write a book about the British rock band Muse.


Although my teaching now tends to concentrate on twentieth-century literature, I’ve taught across English literary history from the 1300s to the present. I convene a final-year undergraduate specialist module on George Orwell, and give lectures and co-ordinate seminars across the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.

Postgraduate supervision

My work for the foreseeable future will be concerned with various projects on the lives and writings of Wyndham Lewis and George Orwell. As a result, I’m currently best placed to supervise postgraduate research in these areas, though I will consider proposals for theses on twentieth-century literature more generally.

Current PhD students include:
- William Bateman, ‘Landscape, Exile, and Form in the Collected Works of D. H. Lawrence’
- Daniel Buckingham, '"Licence to Tease": Satire, Apology, and Celebrity in the Mid-Century Middlebrow'
- Emily Heathcote, ‘Postmodernist Literature and Postmodernist Editing’
- James Hirst, ‘Modernist Magazines, Editing Networks, and Short Fiction’
- Liam Knight, 'Dystopian Literature in the Twenty-First Century: An Endotextual Account'
- Katie Lowe, '#MeToo: Female Rage in Literary Modernism and Contemporary Women's Writing'

Completed PhD students include:
- Hollie Johnson, ‘Ecodystopia: Environmental Apocalypse and the Ecocidal Imagination’
- Emma Zimmerman, ‘Architexture: Space, Form, and the Modernist Novel’

In addition to the above-mentioned students, I’ve acted as the internal examiner for multiple PhD theses at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, and as the external examiner for theses at King’s College, London; the University of Liverpool; Queen’s University, Belfast; and the University of Strathclyde.

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


My research tends to be concerned with links between literature and history across a wide range of twentieth-century materials. Current projects include an edited collection of essays on Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, as part of the Cambridge University Press Cambridge Companions series; a scholarly edition of Lewis’s Snooty Baronet, for Oxford University Press; and a book on tyranny and works by Lewis, Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Rebecca West, for Princeton University Press.

I regularly speak about my research in seminar series, at academic conferences, and at public institutions. Forthcoming talks include:

  • 'Orwell's Kindness' (George Orwell [One-Day Course], Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford, June 2020)
  • 'The Politics of Universality: Beethoven and Anglo-American Literature, 1900-2000’ (London Modernism Seminar, Senate House, December 2019)

Talks since 2017 include:

  • 'Oceania’s Dirt: Mess, Filth, and Nausea in Nineteen Eighty-Four' (1984 Now, University of Oxford, October 2019)
  • 'Modern Cities, Modern Dystopias: Aldous Huxley, Wyndham Lewis, and George Orwell' (Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, September 2019)
  • 'Vorticist Voices' [panel response] (Troublesome Modernisms, BAMS 2019, King's College, London, June 2019)
  • 'Brave-New-Worldites: Wyndham Lewis via George Orwell’ (MSA Annual Conference, Columbus, OH, November 2018)
  • '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)

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.

I've recently established a podcast called Critical Attitudes, which features interviews with scholars working in English studies. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to be a guest on the programme.


Recent publications


Waddell, N 2019, Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Greenberg, J & Waddell, N (eds) 2016, 'Brave New World': Contexts and Legacies. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-44541-4

Gasiorek, A & Waddell, N 2015, Wyndham Lewis: A Critical Guide. Edinburgh University Press.

Waddell, N 2012, Modernist Nowheres: Politics and Utopia in Early Modernist Writing, 1900-1920. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gasiorek, A, Reeve-Tucker, A & Waddell, N (eds) 2011, Wyndham Lewis and the Cultures of Modernity. Ashgate.

Waddell, N 2009, Modern John Buchan. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Waddell, N 2017, 'Modernism and Music: A Review of Recent Scholarship', Modernist Cultures, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 316-30. https://doi.org/10.3366/mod.2017.0173)

Waddell, N 2016, 'Lawrence Atkinson, Sculpture, and Vorticist Multimediality', Modernism/Modernity, vol. 1, no. 3. https://doi.org/10.26597/mod.0003


Waddell, N 2019, Ford’s Artistic Contexts: Family and Music. in S Haslam & L Colombino (eds), The Ashgate Research Companion to Ford Madox Ford. Routledge, London.

Waddell, N 2016, Signs of the T: Aldous Huxley, High Art, and American Technocracy. in J Greenberg & N Waddell (eds), ‘Brave New World’: Contexts and Legacies. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 31-49.

Waddell, N 2016, Lewis and Fascism. in T Miller (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Wyndham Lewis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 87-99. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781107284326

Waddell, N 2015, Lewis and Politics. in A Gasiorek & N Waddell (eds), Wyndham Lewis: A Critical Guide. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 128-142.

Gasiorek, A, Reeve-Tucker, A & Waddell, N 2010, Introduction. in A Gasiorek, A Reeve-Tucker & N Waddell (eds), Wyndham Lewis and the Cultures of Modernity. Ashgate.

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