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Idaho State University
Matthew Levay

Matthew Levay

Associate Professor of English; Director of Graduate Studies

Office: LA 239



PhD, English (2009), University of Washington

MA, English (2004), University of Washington

BA, English (2002), Vanderbilt University

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

My first book, Violent Minds: Modernism and the Criminal (Cambridge University Press, 2019), constructs a genealogy of criminality in modernist fiction in England and America 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. For a short account of one of the book’s key arguments, see my post for the Cambridge UP blog, “Can Crime Fiction Be Modernist?”

I’ve recently begun work on two new projects. The first, Time and Again: Twentieth-Century British Fiction and the Form of the Series, explains 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. The second, Looking Old: Anachronism and Contemporary Comics, asks why so many recent cartoonists adopt the visual registers of the early twentieth century, producing work meant to appear much older than it actually is.

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.

*Complete CV available online at

Selected Honors and Awards

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: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Edited Special Issue

“Seriality,” a special issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (2018).

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

“Crime Fiction and Criminology,” The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Janice M. Allan, Jesper Gulddal, Stewart King, and Andrew Pepper (London: Routledge), 273-281.

“Modernism’s Opposite: John Galsworthy and the Novel Series,” Modernism/modernity 26.3 (September 2019): 543-562.

“On the Uses of Seriality for Modern Periodical Studies: An Introduction,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (2018): v-xix.

“Repetition, Recapitulation, Routine: Dick Tracy and the Temporality of Daily Newspaper Comics,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 9.1 (2018): 101-122.

“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.

Courses Taught

6632: Graduate Seminar in Teaching Literature (“Teaching Difficult Literature”)

6625: Graduate Seminar in a Literary Period (“British Modernism: Audiences and Institutions”)

6612: Introduction to Graduate Studies in English

6610: Careers in English

4469/5569: Contemporary Literature (“The Twenty-First-Century British Novel”)

4468/5568: Early Twentieth-Century Literature (“British Modernism”)

3327: Special Topics in Genre: Comics

3323: Genre Studies in Fiction (“Functions of 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