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Idaho State University
Matthew Levay

Matthew Levay

Associate 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 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 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 engagements with subjectivity, genre fiction, and experimental narrative.

I’ve recently begun a new project on modernism and the novel series, tentatively titled Time and Again: Twentieth-Century British Fiction and the Form of the Series. 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. Articles on the early history of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the relationship between criminology and crime fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in edited collections, and I recently edited 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 working on a set of essays 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, Winter 2019.

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 and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).


Journal Issue

Editor, “Seriality” issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (2018): Forthcoming.


Articles and Book Chapters

“Modernism’s Opposite: John Galsworthy and the Novel Series,” Modernism/modernity. Forthcoming September 2019.

“On the Uses of Seriality for Modern Periodical Studies: Editor’s Introduction,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (2018): Forthcoming.

“Repetition, Recapitulation, Routine: Dick Tracy and the Temporality of Daily Newspaper Comics,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (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
  • 4468/5568: Early Twentieth-Century 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: Writing and Rhetoric II
  • HONS 1102: Honors Humanities II
  • HONS 1101: Honors Humanities I