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Matthew Levay

Matthew Levay

Assistant Professor of English; Director of Graduate Studies in English

Office: LA 239



PhD, English (2009), University of Washington

MA, English (2004), University of Washington

BA, English (2002), Vanderbilt University

* Complete CV available online at

My research and teaching focus on twentieth-century British literature and culture, with emphases in modernism, the history and theory of the novel, literary genres, and popular print culture.

My first book, Violent Minds: Modernism and the Criminal (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press), constructs a genealogy of criminality in modernist fiction from the late nineteenth century to the 1950s. Examining a range of modernist authors who explored new modes of psychological representation through the figure of the criminal, and who drew upon works of criminal anthropology, detective fiction, and journalistic accounts of crime and violence in order to develop those representations, Violent Minds demonstrates how a fascination with criminality underlies the modernist engagement with subjectivity and narrative form.

I’ve recently begun a new project on modernism and the novel series, tentatively entitled Serial Modernism: Twentieth-Century British Fiction and the Form of the Sequel. This book aims to show how and why novel series have played an underappreciated yet pivotal role in shaping modernist aesthetics, and how experimentation with serial forms allowed authors to manipulate their readers' experiences of narrative time, characterization, and plot.

As these projects indicate, my interest in popular culture complements my work in modernism. Specifically, I am interested in genre fictions, comics, and periodicals that explicitly or implicitly blur the lines between popular and experimental form, and in how those works complicate our understanding of cultural capital, aesthetic value, and generic definition. An article on the early history of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine recently appeared in a collection on crime fiction in American culture, and I am also editing a special issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies on “Seriality.” Finally, I continue to write about comics and graphic narrative, and am currently completing an essay on repetition and narrative temporality in Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy strips, as well as a set of articles on anachronism in contemporary comics.

My research in these areas also contributes to my teaching, which, from introductory literature courses to advanced graduate seminars, emphasizes neglected texts alongside canonical works. I am also deeply invested in graduate education, and in highlighting the value of academic writing as a vehicle for intellectual engagement and expression.



Modernist Studies Association Research Travel Grant, Summer 2018.

Idaho Humanities Council Research Fellowship, Spring 2016.

Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence (six-time recipient).

Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin, Summer 2011. Awarded through the Erle Stanley Gardner Endowment for Mystery Studies.

Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, Society of Scholars Fellowship, University of Washington, 2008-2009.



Violent Minds: Modernism and the Criminal (New York: Cambridge University Press). Forthcoming.

“Modernism’s Opposite: John Galsworthy and the Novel Series,” Modernism/modernity. Forthcoming.

“Time and Again: Seriality in Modern Periodicals,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, introductory essay to a special issue on “Seriality” (2018): Forthcoming.

“Comics, Crime, Routine: Dick Tracy’s Daily Violence,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, special issue on “Seriality” (2018): Forthcoming.

“Preservation and Promotion: Ellery Queen, Magazine Publishing, and the Marketing of Detective Fiction,” The Centrality of Crime Fiction in American Literary Culture, ed. Alfred Bendixen and Olivia Carr Edenfield (New York: Routledge, 2017), 101-122.

“Remaining a Mystery: Gertrude Stein, Crime Fiction and Popular Modernism,” Journal of Modern Literature 36.4 (Summer 2013): 1-22.

“Modernism, Periodically,” Modern Language Quarterly 72.4 (December 2011): 521-535. (Review Essay).

“The Entertainments of Late Modernism: Graham Greene and the Career Criminal,” Modernist Cultures 5.2 (October 2010): 315-339.

Also responsible for an annual omnibus essay on “Modern Literature” for The Year’s Work in English Studies, 2016-2019.




  • 6632: Graduate Seminar in Teaching Literature
  • 6625: Graduate Seminar in British Modernism
  • 6612: Introduction to Graduate Studies in English
  • 6610: Careers in English
  • 4469/5569: Contemporary Literature
  • 3327: Special Topics in Genre: Comics
  • 3323: Genre Studies in Fiction: The Novel
  • 3311: Literary Criticism and Theory
  • 2268: Survey of British Literature II
  • 2211: Introduction to Literary Analysis
  • 1102: Critical Reading and Writing
  • HONS 1102: Honors Humanities II



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