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School of English and Drama

Dr Sam Halliday, BA (Sussex) MA (Nottingham) PhD (London)


Reader in American Literature | Director of Graduate Studies: Students and Training

Office Hours: See QMPlus


I studied American Studies at the University of Sussex and the University of Nottingham before doing a PhD in English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, supervised by Professor Tim Armstrong. That PhD (on electricity in nineteenth century American literature, and related matters) eventually turned into my first book, Science and Technology in the Age of Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, and James: Thinking and Writing Electricity (2007). I have been at Queen Mary since 2000. Between around 2008 and 2013 I mostly worked on sound in twentieth century literature and other art forms; more recently, I have been working on African American writer Ralph Ellison.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH264: Terror, Transgression, and Astonishment
  • ESH277: The Invention of America: American Literature, 1630 to the Early Twentieth Century
  • ESH6020: Herman Melville's Moby Dick

Postgraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH7034: Modernism and After


Research Interests:

  • American literature; African American literature; modernism
  • Science and technology in culture
  • Communications media and literature
  • Literature's relationship with music, cinema, and other arts
  • The body and the senses

Recent and On-Going Research:

In Sonic Modernity: Representing Sound in Literature, Culture and the Arts (2013; paperback edition 2020) I survey Anglophone and other literature of the early twentieth century, focusing on the sounds this literature represents and the other arts (especially music) with which this literature is engaged. More recent work on sound includes ‘Hearing and the Senses’, a chapter in Sound and Literature, edited by Anna Snaith (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

In addition to and alongside work on sound and music, my on-going research concerns Ralph Ellison, and other African American writers of the twentieth century. One recent essay concerns the relationship between Ellison (and Richard Wright, and James Baldwin) and Henry James; another addresses Ellison’s relation to cinema. Future projects will continue to explore that relation, and also Ellison’s engagement with other twentieth century art forms, technologies, and discourses, from botany and boxing to computing, literary theory, and psychoanalysis.  




Ralph Ellison and Cinema (Anthem, forthcoming, 2023)

Sonic Modernity: Representing Sound in Literature, Culture and the Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2013; paperback edition 2020)

Science and Technology in the Age of Hawthorne, Melville, Twain and James: Thinking and Writing Electricity (Palgrave, 2007)

Book chapters and journal articles:

'Sound Media, Race and Voice', in The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Sound Studies, ed. Julian Murphet and Helen Groth (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming, 2023)

‘Ralph Ellison and the Divergent African American Claims on Henry James’, in Global Ralph Ellison, ed. Marc C. Conner and Tessa Roynon  (Peter Lang, 2020)

‘Cinema and Cinematicity in Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting . . .’. Literature of the Americas, No. 8 (2020), pp. 309-35. Link here.

‘Hearing and the Senses’, in Literature and Sound, ed. Anna Snaith (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

‘“High Fidelity,” “Added Value” and the Aesthetics of Sound Technology in Literary Modernism’, in The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music, ed. Delia da Sousa Correa (Edinburgh University Press, 2020)

‘Electricity, Telephony, Communication’, in Oxford 21st Century Approaches to Literature: Late Victorian into Modern, ed. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn, and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford University Press, 2016)

‘Electricity and Homosexuality: from 19th‐century American Sexual Health Literature to D. H. Lawrence’, Centaurus 57: 3 (2015), pp. 212-228

‘Modernism and the Seashell’, Critical Quarterly, 54 (2012), pp. 74-92

‘Clocks, Horses, Trains: The aural space-time complex in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries’ Sound Effects 1: 1 (2011), 37-51. Link here.

‘Weather, Sound Technology, and Space in Wallace Stevens’, Wallace Stevens Journal, 33 (2009), 83-96

‘Helen Keller, Henry James, and the Social Relations of Perception’, Criticism, 48 (2006), 175-201

‘History, "Civilization", and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court’, in A Companion to Mark Twain, ed. P. Messent and L. J. Budd (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)

‘Deceit, Desire and Technology: A media history of secrets and lies’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, 37 (2001), 141-54


See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

I have recently supervised the following successful PhD projects:

  • Katherine Angell, 'The Concept of Monstrosity in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Popular Culture’ (2013), co-supervised with Catherine Maxwell.
  • Peter Jones, 'Disowned Relations: Social Exploratory Literature and London's Unsettling Streets, 1838-1914', co-supervised with Markman Ellis (2014).
  • Rosie Langridge, Viewing Modernist Literature Through a Postal Lens: Modernism in the Post Office, co-supervised with Morag Shiach (2017).
  • Kester Richardson-Dawes, ‘The Origins of German Tragic Radio: Walter Benjamin's Radio Broadcasts', co-supervised with Paul Hamilton (2019).
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