Book an Open Day

Dick Ellis

Visiting Professor in American Studies

Qualifications: B.A.(Hons) Exeter University 1971; Ph.D. Exeter University 1977.
Present Appointment: Visiting Professor of Cultural History, University of Chichester

Management and Administrative Experience

2006-10: Head of Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham
2004ff.. Research Director, American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham
1998-99: Course Leader, MA in English Studies, Nottingham Trent University.
1997-2004: Research Leader, English Nottingham Trent University (2001: awarded RAE 5 rating)
1993-97: Head of English, Nottingham Trent University
1991-92: Senior Course Tutor, B.A. (Hons) Modern Studies Degree, Staffordshire University
1990-9: School Representative, Academic Board, Staffordshire University

Offices and positions held in Professional Organizations

2015ff.: Executive Board Member, European Beat Studies Network
2014-2015: President, Society for the Study of American Women Writers           
2009-2015: Panel member, Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
2007-2015: British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Executive Committee.
2007-2015: Panel Member, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
2004-2013: International Committee, American Studies Association (ASA)
2002ff.: Fellow, English Association
2002-2003: Founding Chair, UK Council of Area Studies Associations (UKCASA)
1998-2002: Executive Committee Member, British Association for American Studies
1993-1995: Executive Committee Member, Council for College and University English.



1. Books, Pamphlets.


R J Ellis (2015) an edition of Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
R J Ellis (2014) an edition of The Colonel’s Dream by Charles Chesnutt, West Virginia University Press
R. J. Ellis (2011) ed., with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. An edition of Harriet Wilson Our Nig; or, Sketches from the life of a Free Black. New York: Vintage Books.
R. J. Ellis (2009) Jack Kerouac: Back On the Road: The 1951 Scroll Manuscript and Related Items: An Exhibition Catalogue. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Pp. 40.
R. J. Ellis 2004 An edition of Nan Green, A Chronicle of Small Beer (Nottingham: Trent Editions, 2004).
R. J. Ellis 2004 Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig: A Cultural Biography of an African American Novel. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004.

 ‘…advances Wilson scholarship significantly … Subtle, agile and often profound …’ – American Literary Scholarship, 2003
R. J. Ellis 1999 Liar! Liar! Jack Kerouac, Novelist (London: Greenwich Exchange, 1999).
‘An ambitious, wide-ranging study. … Ellis is an excellent close reader, careful in passing judgements, conversant with earlier scholarship, and unpretentiously comfortable with contemporary theory … Liar, Liar!  is a book from which to learn’ – American Literature 73:1 March 2001)
R. J. Ellis 1987 Evergreen Review and Its Relationship to the Avant-Garde in America (Wakefield: Wakefield Academic Publishing).
Essay Collection/Journal Special Issue Editing:

R. J. Ellis (2010)  Ed., with Janet Floyd, Alison Easton and Lindsey Traub. Becoming Visible: Women’s Presence in Late Nineteenth-Century America.  Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi Press.
R. J. Ellis 2008 Comparative American Studies 6.1. Ed., with Paul Giles. Special Issue on ‘Transnational American Studies’.
R. J. Ellis 2000 Faulkner and Modernism (Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 2000).
R. J. Ellis 1990 Science Fiction Roots and Branches: Contemporary Critical Approaches. (ed., with G.R. Garnett) (London: Macmillan, 1990).

Other Editing:

2003-9 Editor, Comparative American Studies (Sage; ISSN 1477-5700).
1999-2002 Editor, European Journal of American Culture (Intellect; ISSN 1466-0407).
1997-2004 General and Commissioning Editor, Trent Editions.
1994-1998 Editor, Over Here: Reviews in American Studies

Refereed Articles and Essays

R. J. Ellis (2017) ‘Westward Ho with Kholiwood: The Transnational Turn in the Neo-Liberal Marketplace.’ In Global Perspectives on the United States: Pro-Americanism, Anti-Americanism and the Discourses Between, ed. Virginia Dominguez and Jane C. Desmond. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.
R J Ellis (2015) “competition would be crushed”: National and International Threads in Charles Chesnutt’s The Colonel’s Dream”, North Carolina Literary Review, No. 24.
R J Ellis (2014) “Six Myths of on the Road: and where these might lead us”. In Reassessing the Twentieth Century Canon, ed. Nicola Alen and David Simmons. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
R J Ellis (2012). ‘“Little … only with some qualification”: The Beats and Beat ‘Little Magazines’. In The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Vol. 2 North America 1894-1960. Ed. Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker. Oxford University Press.
R. J. Ellis (2012), with Henry Louis Gates, ‘“Grievances at the treatment she received”: Harriet E. Wilson’s Spiritualist Career in Boston’, American Literary History.
R. J. Ellis (2011) ‘I’ve seen him take his knife ...”: The Searchers (1956)” In Film Moments, ed. Tom Brown and James Walters. London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan.
R. J. Ellis (2010) “Why Obama Can’t Close Guantanamo”,  American Studies On-Line Vol. 17.
R. J. Ellis (2010) ‘“People Will Think You Have Struck an Attitude”: Fashionable Space in Emma Dunham Kelley’s Novels’. In Becoming Visible: Women’s Presence in Late Nineteenth-Century America  Eds. Janet Floyd et al. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi Press.
R. J. Ellis (2010) “‘I know for certain ... that these are bad people’: The Intractable Problem of Guantanamo,” Comparative American Studies 8.3: 169-184.
R. J. Ellis (2009) ‘“so amiable and good”: Hannah Crafts’s The Bondwoman’s Narrative and its Lineages’. Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures 62.1-2 (Winter): 137-162. .
R. J. Ellis (2009) ‘“Dedicated to America, Whatever that is”: Kerouac’s Versions of On the Road. In What’s Your Road, Man: Critical Essays on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Hilary Holladay and Robert Holton, eds. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
R. J. Ellis (2009) ‘Kathy Acker’s Deconstruction of Jack Kerouac’s “Fellaheen” Dreams in Kathy Goes to Haiti’. In Kathy Acker and Transnationalism. Polina Mackay and Kathryn Nichols, eds. Cambridge: Scholars Pub.
R. J. Ellis (2008) ‘“Golden All Through”: Inter-Hemispheric Colorations to Spofford’s “The Amber Gods”. In American Studies as Media Studies. Eds Frank Kelleter and Daniel Stein. Pp. 95-106.
R. J. Ellis (2007) ‘“Whatever the law permits”: Hannah Crafts’ The Bondwoman’s Narrative’. In Transatlantic Exchanges, Wien: Verlag de Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenscahften.
R. J. Ellis (2007) ‘Harriet Beecher Stowe’, in ed. Peter Hinks and John McKivigan, Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition, Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 660-664.
R. J. Ellis (2006) ‘“No Authority At All”: Harriet Prescott Spofford’s “Down the River” and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn’, Mark Twain Journal 4: 33-54.
R. J. Ellis (2006) ‘“Scandalous for Being Scandalous”: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road”, in Morrison and Watkins, eds, Scandalous Fictions: The Twentieth Century Novel in the Public Sphere, Basingstoke: Palgrave: 99-116.
R. J. Ellis (2006) ‘“Latent Color” and “Exaggerated Snow”: Whiteness and Race in Harriet Prescott Spofford’s “The Amber Gods”’, Journal of American Studies 40.2: (August 2006): 257-282.
R. J. Ellis (2006) ‘Walker’s Appeal’, in Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer, eds, American History through Literature, 1820-1870, pp. 1234-1238. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
R. J. Ellis (2005) With Paul Giles, ‘E Pluribus Multitudinum: The New World of Journal Publishing in America’, American Quarterly 57.4: 1033-1078.
R. J. Ellis (2004) ‘Crafts, Hannah’, in The Literary Encyclopedia (
R. J. Ellis (2004) ‘African-American Poetry and Fiction’, in Richard Gray and Owen Robinson, eds, A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American South, pp. 255-279. Oxford: Blackwell.
R. J. Ellis (2004) ‘“Dangerous, inauspicious or polluting”: The Limen, Liminal Transition and Space in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter’, in Nancy Bredeninck, ed., Studies in Liminality (Madrid) Vol. 4 (2004), 33-55.
R. J. Ellis (2003) ‘Wilson, Harriet’, in The Literary Encyclopedia, 2003 (
R. J. Ellis (2002) ‘Our Nig: fetters of an American farmgirl’, in Special Relationships: Anglo-American affinities and antagonisms, 1854-1936, eds. Beer and Bennett, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002, 65-88.
R. J. Ellis (2001) ‘“Be a Crossroads”: Globalising from Within’, 49th Parallel 8: 1-9 (2001) (
R. J. Ellis (2001) ‘Wilson’s “fatal consequences”: Our Nig’s farm life’, Atlantic Literary Review 2.3 (Sept): 38-56.
R. J. Ellis (2001) ‘“High standards for white conduct”: Race, Racism and Class in Dangling Man’, Saul Bellow Journal 16:2/17:1/17:2 (Summer/Fall 2000/Winter 2001): 26-50.
R. J. Ellis (2000) ‘From “The Beetles” to “The Beatles”: The British/Beat 1955-65’, Symbiosis 4.1: 67-98.
R. J. Ellis (1999) ‘Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig and William Wells Brown’s Clotel’, Soft Canons, ed. Karen L. Kilcup, (Iowa City: Iowa University Press), pp. 99-122.
R. J. Ellis (1998)‘“big John Drunk in Mexico”’: Jack Kerouac’s Failed Traveller in Tristessa’, Studies in Travel Writing 2 (Spring 1998): 128-143.
R. J. Ellis (1997) ‘The sick disaster joke as carnivalesque postmodern narrative impulse’, in C. Powell, G. Paton, S. Wagg, The Social Faces of Humour (London: Arena, 1997), pp. 219-241.
R. J. Ellis (1996) ‘“itself irradiated by the thing it attacks”: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “One Thousand Fearful Words for Fidel Castro”’, in John Lucas, ed., Writing and Radicalism (London: Longmans), 245-280.
R. J. Ellis (1996)  ‘Total Recall’s Generic Hesitations’, Foundation 65: 81-97.
R. J. Ellis (1996) ‘“I am only a jolly storyteller”: Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Visions of Cody', in A. Robert Lee, ed., The Beat Generation Writers (London: Pluto Press), pp. 37-60.
R. J. Ellis (1994) ‘“I Knowed He Was White Inside”: Huck Finn’s Dangerous Language’, Over Here 14.2: 3-18.
R. J. Ellis (1994) ‘Out From Under the Cucumber: The Color Purple’s Critique of Postmodern Deferral’, in Liminal Post-Modernisms: The Postmodern, the (Post-)Colonial and the (Post-)Feminist (The Hague: Rodopi,), 275-99.
R. J. Ellis (1994; rpt. 2000) ‘Plodding Plowmen: Issues of Labour and Literacy in Gray’s Elegy’, in John Goodridge, ed., John Clare and the Self-Taught Tradition (Helpstone: John Clare Society), pp. 27-43.
R. J. Ellis (1993) ‘Mapping the UK little magazine field’ in Robert Hampson and Peter Barry, eds, New British Poetries: The Scope of the Possible (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press). Rpt. in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism Vol. 194: Topics Volume, ed. Thomas J. Schoenburg and Lawrence J. Trudeau, Thompson Gale, 2008.
R. J. Ellis (1993 ‘William Burroughs: A Critical and Bio/bibliographical Essay’, in Post-war Literatures in English (Groningen, The Netherlands: Wolters-Noordhoff, June), pp. 1-16.
R. J. Ellis (1992) ‘“A Doubtful Liberty”: Frederick Douglass’ Critical Straits’, Over Here 12.2 (Winter): 81-94.
R. J. Ellis (1992) ‘Kathy Acker: A Critical and Bio/bibliographical Essay’, in Post-war Literatures in English (Groningen, The Netherlands: Wolters-Noordhoff, December), pp. 1-15.
R. J. Ellis (1990) ‘“Everything Solid Melts into Air’: Baudrillard’s l’Amérique Sidéral’, Over Here, 10.1: 70-86.
R. J. Ellis (1990) ‘Frank Herbert’s Dune and the Discourse of Apocalyptic Ecologism’, Science Fiction: Contemporary Critical Approaches (Macmillan), pp.104-124.
R. J. Ellis (1990) ‘“We See Very Well What It Means To Us’: The Evolution of Visual Representations of the Frontier Pioneer’, in G. Day (ed.), Readings in Popular Culture: Trivial Pursuits (Macmillan), pp. 216-230.
R. J. Ellis (1988) ‘Disseminating Desire: Grove Press and “The End[s] of Obscenity”’, in G. Day et. al. (eds.), Perspectives on Pornography (Macmillan), pp.26-43.
R. J. Ellis (1987) ‘Fragmentedly Impotent: Mark Twain and the Ideology of Southern Slavery’, in Leonie Archer (ed.), Slavery (Routledge and Kegan Paul). Pp. 157-75.
R. J. Ellis (1986) ‘Narrative, Myth and the Turner Thesis’, Journal of American Culture 9.2: 9-16.
R. J. Ellis (1985) ‘Producing the Poem: U.K. Little Magazine Publishing’, Serials Review 11.1 (Spring): 35-41.
R. J. Ellis (2004) ‘Half Full or Half Empty?: the Art of Edward Hopper’,  American Studies in Britain  91: 11-12.
R. J. Ellis (1999) Interview with Kathy Acker, San Francisco , May 1992, European Journal of American Culture, 19.1: 43-53.
R. J. Ellis (1996) ‘An Interview with Richard Ford’, Over Here 16.2 (Winter): 105-125.

Selected Conference Papers and Contributions (reverse chronological order)

2017 ‘Sentimental Sources of Jacobs’ Life Story’, Soc. for the Study of American Women Writers, Bordeaux, June.
2016 ‘Texts, Cultural Narratives and Editors’ Editing: the Case of Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl.’ International Society for the Study of Narrative conference, University of Amsterdam.  July.
2015 ’Clambering onto the tightrope: Jack Kerouac’s Literary Apprenticeship in The Sea Is My Brother. European Beat Studies Network conference, University of Brussels. May.
2013 ‘“Deliver me not over unto the will of my enemies”: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Colonel’s Dream.’ American Literature Association, September.
2010 ‘Visual impacts of the scroll version of On the Road’. Invited paper to panel on the Beats and Visual Culture at European Association of American Studies Conference, Dublin April.
2010 ‘Stowe and Sadism’, Canada and the South Conference, University of Vienna August.
2009 ‘Emma Dunham Kelley and Fashionable Space’, BAAS Annual Conference, April.
2008 Intertextual  parody in Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa and Kathy Acker’s Kathy Goes to Haiti, BAAS Annual Conference, Edinburgh, April.
2008 ‘Narrative Strategies in David Walker’s Appeal’, Int. Society for the Study of Narrative Annual Conf, April.
2007 ‘Whatever the law permits’: Hannah Crafts’s The Bondwoman’s Narrative’, The American South in Europe, Europe in the American South, Vienna, September.
2006 (by invitation) Hannah Crafts, "Transatlantic Exchanges: The South in Europe - Europe in the American South: An International Colloquium”, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, September
2006: “East Is West”: Bride and Prejudice, American Studies Association, Oakland, October 2006.
2006 Invited panellist: ‘“golden all through”: the inter-hemispheric in Spofford’s “The Amber Gods”’, German Association of American Studies, University of Goettingen, June 2006.
2005 ‘“Sex, Drugs and Thrills”:  Scandal in Kerouac’s On the Road’, International American Studies Association Second World Congress, University of Ottawa, August.
2005 Inaugural lecture: ‘Walker’s Dystopic Pharmakon’, Utopia Project First Symposium, Univ of Tokyo, June.
2005 Harriet Prescott Spofford’s ‘Down the River’ and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. BAAS Annual Conference, Robinson College Cambridge, April.
2005 Plenary lecture: ‘Inter-hemispheric USAmerican Studies’, Institute for US Studies, Univ of Iowa, March.
2004 ‘“fiendishly colorless”: race in Harriet Prescott Spofford’s ‘The Amber Gods’, American Literature Association Fifteenth Annual Conference, San Francisco.
2003 Invited lecture: ‘The place of American Studies journals in a globalizing world’, American Literature Association annual conference, Boston April.
2002 Harriet Wilson’s Sentimental Abolitionism’, BAAS Annual Conference, University of Oxford, April.
2000 ‘Our Nig’s farm labors’, ‘Nature’s Nation Reconsidered’, EAAS Conference, Graz, Austria, April
1999 ‘Playing in the Dark: Saul Bellow and Race’, Three Cities Conference, Birmingham University, Sept.
1999 Plenary Lecture: ‘From the Beetles to the Beatles’: the Beats/Britain interface’, Symbiosis conference, July.
1999 ‘maltreated by professed abolitionists’: the art of Harriet Wilson, American Lit. Assoc., Baltimore, May.
1997 ‘Gender Trouble in Kerouac’s The Subterraneans’, “Passing” Conference, Winchester College, September.
1996 ‘“impossible to give an impression”: Harriet Wilson, William Wells Brown, and the politics of servitude’, British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, University of Birmingham.
1995 ‘Total Recall: An Action Adventure with Real Class?’, British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, Selwyn College, Cambridge, April.
1994 ‘Gray’s Elegy: Peasants and Poets’, John Clare Soc. Annual Conference, April.
1992 ‘Paradoxical Doxification: Alice Walker’s Critique of Post-Modernism’, European Association of American Studies Annual Conference, Seville, Spring.
1990 ‘William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished: Region vs. Nation’, Fourth International Region and Nation Conference, Luxembourg, September.
1990 ‘On the Road’s structure and modern myth’, BAAS, Exeter, Spring.
1985 ‘Mark Twain and the ideology of slavery’, Ruskin College, Oxford History Workshop Conf., Summer.

Exhibition Curating

Back On the Road: The 1951 Scroll Version of Kerouac’s Novel. The Barber Institute Dec. 2008-January 2009.
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin: The Book and Some of Its Contexts (Touring; 2008ff.).
Little magazines/small presses/image & text (with David Miller), London: South Bank Arts Centre, 2001.


My central research interests are located in the fields of Critical and Cultural Theory and American Studies.

Mid- and late-nineteenth Century African-American and Women’s Writing
My interdisciplinary research on Harriet E. Wilson has included preparation of two editions of her writing and a monograph on Wilson, published in 2004. Other authors studied include Harriet Prescott Spofford , Harriet Beecher Stowe, Hannah Crafts, David Walker, Emma Dunham Kelley Hawkins and Charles Chesnutt. My exhibition on Stowe has visited Bowdoin College, Univ.of Illinois-Chicago and Univ of Southern Maine.

The Beats and Beat Writing
My research into the Beats has resulted is rooted in a process of resisting the (until recently) dominant critical approach, relatingtheir work to their biographies, and instead focusing on their writing, poetic and prosodic strategies’ relationship to their historical and cultural contexts – an approach formulated in the early Seventies during my research into Grove Press and Evergreen Review and developed, for example, in my 1988 article on Grove Press and the laws of obscenity (focusing on Burroughs), my 1996 article on Ferlinghetti and the Cuban crisis, my 1999 book on Kerouac (Liar! Liar!, published in 1999) and my many articles on Kerouac.

UK and US Little Magazine Publishing
My research into the UK Little Magazine field has been ongoing for over eighteen years, and has involved publication of ten articles in the UK and USA, including, by invitation, essays in British Book News and The Scope of the Possible. Much of my research was related to the now substantial documentation of this previously uncharted post-war field (a project attracting British Library and South Bank Arts Centre funding). This research has also led to articles on the British Beat and on US Beat little magazines (most recently in 2012).

Research Fellowships

1985 Exchange Fellowship,University of Wisconsin, Autumn/Winter.
2006 April Doshisha University, Kyoto
2010 Spring University of Silesia
2010 Autumn W E B DuBois Institute, Harvard University
2011 Spring Institute for United States Studies, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign