Dr Douglas Field

Senior Lecturer in 20th Century American Lit

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Research interests

My background is in English literature but I have published on a variety of twentieth-century cultural forms and topics, among them American cold war culture, JFK, Harold Norse, Jack Kerouac, Tom Waits, Jeff Nuttall, William Burroughs, James Baldwin, film noir, jazz, Pentecostalism, 1960s British poetry, and 1960s transatlantic counter-culture and avant-garde writing. 

 

James Baldwin

Over the last ten years my research has focussed on the African American writer James Baldwin (1924-1987). In 2009 I edited A Historical Guide to James Baldwin (Oxford UP), a volume that explores the writer’s relationship to the civil rights movement, transatlantic culture, music, religion, and black queer writing, followed by James Baldwin (2011) for the series Writers and their Work. I co-edited (with Rich Blint) a special issue on Baldwin for African American Review  (2013).  My monograph, All Those Strangers: The Art  and Lives of James Baldwin was published by Oxford UP in 2015. The book analyses the writer’s life and work against the radically transformative politics of his time, as well as exploring under-researched areas in Baldwin’s life and work—his relationship to the Left, his FBI files and the significance of Africa in his writing—while also contributing to wider discussions about post-war US culture. The book was reviewed in the New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement &  African American Review, amongst other publications. 

 
Baldwin continues to fascinate me. In 2014 I co-founded the James Baldwin Review with Justin Joyce and Dwight McBride (both at Emory University). The journal is open access and can be viewed here. I continue to write occasional articles on Baldwin. Recent and forthcoming pieces include a chapter in James Baldwin in Context (CUP, 2019) and the foreword to Of Latitudes Unknown: James Baldwin's Radical Imagination (Bloosmbury, 2019) but my research interests have broadened. 
 
 
Conferences, Symposia & Exhibitions
In December 2014, I co-curated a two day event to commemorate and evaluate the centenary of William Burroughs. A review of the event, which was funded by the Arts Council, and which included talks and performances by C.P. Lee, Oliver Harris, Michael Horovitz, and others, can be found here.  
 
Other projects include working with Jenny Barrett, Ian Scott, Alan Rice, and Jonathan Ward on a series of events in 2015 to mark the centenary of the contraversial film Birth of a Nation. The events included a public screening of DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation, panel dicussions with artists, including Lubaina Himid, and several symposia.
 
In June 2016 I co-organised the European Beat Studies Network Conference in Manchester, along with Prof. Oliver Harris. The following year I was on the conference organising committee for "Archival Afterlives,"  the annual John Rylands Research Institute conference.
 
I was the co-curator, with Jay Jones, of the exhibition, Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground, which was on display at the John Rylands Library, Manchester (2016-17). I was also the co-curator of an exhibtion on Nuttall at Flat Time House in London, The Pyschopathic Now: Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture and the International Underground (2018-19)
 
Recent and Current Research
My recent research has focussed on avant-garde little magazines published between c. 1955-1980 and on avant-garde writers, with a particular interest in Alexander Trocchi, Jeff Nuttall, and William Burroughs, the subject of my current book. 
 
I am the co-editor (with Jay Jeff Jones) of An Aesthetic of Obscenity an anthology of Jeff Nuttall's fiction, along with several articles on the writer (Beat Scene, PN Review, TLS). I am also the co-editor (again with Jay Jeff Jones), of a 50th anniversary edition of Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture
 
Forthcoming work includes the foreword to a new edition of  Brion Gysin Let the Mice In by Gysin and William Burroughs and a chapter titled "Beats, Black Culture and Bohemianism in mid-twentieth Century New York City" for the forthcoming Cambridge History of New York Literature. 

 

I am helping to organise a day-long symposium, "The Artist of the Future Age: William Blake, Neo-Romanticism, Counter-Culture and Now," which will take place at the John Rylands Library (11 October, 2019).
 
 
 
 
Bomb Culture - 50th Anniversary Edition  An Aesthetic of Obscenity: Five Novels American Cold War Culture
 
 
All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin James Baldwin (Writers and Their Work) A Historical Guide to James Baldwin (Historical Guides to American Authors) by Douglas Field (2009-09-01)
 
James Baldwin Review: Volume 1 James Baldwin Review: Volume 2 James Baldwin Review: Volume 3
 
  James Baldwin Review: Volume 4
 
 
 
 
 

Projects

Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display