School of English and Drama

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


Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century American Literature & Director of MA English Literature Admissions



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 started work on the deeply meditated and elaborate response to twentieth century media (especially cinema) that is the work of 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:

My most recent book is Sonic Modernity: Representing Sound in Literature, Culture and the Arts (2013); here, 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. Other recent work includes an article on the sound of seashells (and seashells’ own resemblance to gramophones), and an article on the way that sound configures time and space (the latter article can be accessed here).

In my current and future research, I will focus in detail on the writings of Ralph Ellison. This work will continue to explore issues relating to sound and sound technology, and will also pay more sustained attention than my previous work to the theory and practice of cinema.


  • Books
  • Books

Selected Publications:

‘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, forthcoming)

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

‘Modernism and the Seashell’, Critical Quarterly, 54 (2012)

‘Clocks, Horses, Trains: The aural space-time complex in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries’ (2001) <>

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

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

‘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), pp. 416-30

‘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)
  • Peter Jones, 'Disowned Relations: Social Exploratory Literature and London's Unsettling Streets, 1838-1914', co-supervised with Markman Ellis (2014)