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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, theories of the novel, literary genres, popular print culture, and comics studies. I am broadly interested in connections between the avant-garde and the popular, and my work often features genre fictions, comics, and periodicals that explicitly or implicitly blur the lines between popular and experimental form, asking how those works complicate our understanding of cultural capital, aesthetic value, and generic convention.

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 and detective fiction in order to develop those representations.

I’m currently at work on two new book projects. The first, Time and Again: Modernism 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 seriality allowed authors to manipulate their readers' experiences of narrative time, characterization, and plot, and to position their work within a media ecology saturated with serial forms. The second project, The New Old Style: Anachronism in Contemporary Comics (under advance contract, University of Nebraska Press, “Encapsulations: Critical Comics Studies” series), 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.

I also have an abiding interest in editing and academic journals; I am the Co-Editor, with Elizabeth Sheehan, of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies (Penn State University Press), and I serve on the Advisory Committee for PMLA. In Spring 2022 I was in Poland at the University of Warsaw’s American Studies Center, where I served as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences.

*Complete CV available online at

Selected Honors and Awards

Fulbright US Scholar Award, Distinguished Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland, Spring 2022.

Idaho State University Outstanding Master Teacher Award, 2021.

Modernist Studies Association Research Travel Grant, Winter 2019.

Idaho Humanities Council Research Fellowship, Spring 2016.

Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence (six-time recipient 2010-2013).

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


Violent Minds: Modernism and the Criminal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Edited Journal Issues

“Modernism in Comics,” essay cluster for Modernism/modernity Print Plus (accepted).

“Comics in 21st-Century American Life,” co-edited special issue of the New Americanist (in process; publication expected in 2023).

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

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

“Vintage Seth,” Modernism/modernity Print Plus (forthcoming).

Little Tommy Lost and the Anachronistic Comic,” Comics and Modernism: History, Form, Culture, ed. Jon Najarian (University Press of Mississippi, forthcoming)

“Crime Fiction and Criminology,” The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Janice M. Allan, Jesper Gulddal, Stewart King, and Andrew Pepper (Routledge, 2020), 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 (Routledge, 2017), 101-122.

Courses Taught

6635: Graduate Seminar in Teaching ("Teaching Comics")

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

6625: Graduate Seminar in a Literary Period (Modernism)

6612: Introduction to Graduate Studies in English

6610: Careers in English

4472/5572: Major Authors (James Joyce's Ulysses)

4469/5569: Contemporary Literature

4468/5568: Early Twentieth-Century Literature

3327: Special Topics in Genre: Comics

3323: Genre Studies in Fiction

3311: Literary Criticism and Theory

2268: Survey of British Literature II

2211: Introduction to Literary Analysis

1126: The Art of Film I

1102: Writing and Rhetoric II

HONS 1102: Honors Humanities II

HONS 1101: Honors Humanities I