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Name: George Cox

PhD: American and Canadian Studies

Thesis Title: Digital Interventions in the American Literary Tradition


Thesis Description:

My project is examining how print works reach forward to instantiate digital interfaces on their pages, whilst contemporary authors and creatives use digital technologies (Twitter, Memes, YouTube and Videogames) to reach back and reconstitute pre-existing cultural forms and literary traditions with a particular focus on America, where these technologies are predominantly designed, built and marketed. 

Informed by Zara Dinnen's concept of the "digital banal," my first chapter shall trace a brief literary history of the user/digital interface relationship in the analogue print novel. Starting with the viscerally depicted digital landscapes of William Gibson's cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (1984), through the 'dot-come boom' and the novels of Colson Whitehead and Jennifer Egan, and ending with the ubiquity and taken-for-grantedness of computing in Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story (2010) and Tao Lin's Taipei (2013), I aim to trace a movement from overt to covert representation of digitality in print literature as the analogue struggles to represent the digital.

I will then offer three examples of digital media employed by literary figures that reimagine and emulate the possibilities of analogue print in digital form:

  • Dazzling Collective: Micro-Blogging, Twitter Fiction and Digital Memetic Nonsense (Jennifer Egan, Teju Cole, Joe Hill, David Mitchell and @mayoremanuel)
  • Archived Bards: The Double Life of Performance Poetry on YouTube (Hollie McNish, Kate Tempest, Button Poetry and Danez Smith)
  • Wrong Paths, or Being a Tourist in Interactive Fiction (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018), Adventure (1975))
  • Playing Deliberately: Traversing US Literary Landscapes in Videogames (Thoreau's Walden in Fallout 4 (2015) and Walden, A Game (2017) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018))


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Dr. Graham Thompson (UON)

Dr. Anthony Hutchison (UON)


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Conference Papers:


  • ‘Since these were only words, they tasted like excellent dark chocolate’: Scatology, Sex and Superficiality in the novels of Jonathan Franzen – “American Stuff”: American Literature Graduate Symposium, University of Cambridge. 14 May 2016.

  • ‘Interesting to the Manufacturer, the Dealer and the Smoker’: Resituating Whitman’s Three Young Men’s Deaths in British Smoking Discourse – 9th Annual International Whitman Week Symposium, University of Exeter. 4 June 2016.


  • 'A System of Sobbing Barter': Representations of the Internet in Contemporary American Literature - DigitalCulture, University of Nottingham, 20 April 2018.

  • 'Cats have small hands!': Whitmanic 'Becomings' on YouTube - 11th Annual International Whitman Week Symposium, TU Dortmund University, 28 May - 3 June 2018.

  • 'Quicksilver Creatures': The Internet and Emersonian 'Becomings' in Jennifer Egan's Look at Me and 'Black Box' - The Literary Self: from Antiquity to the Digital Age, University of Edinburgh, 4 - 5 June 2018.

  2019 (Upcoming):

  • 'Archived Bards: The Double Life of Performance Poetry on YouTube' - Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association National Conference, Washington D.C, 17 - 20 April 2019.
  • 'Whitman's Legacy in Viral Poetic Advertising'Walt Whitman International Festival, Walt Whitman Birthplace, New York, 9 - 11 August 2019.

Other Activities:


  • 'Posthuman Ethics, Pain and Endurance,' convened by Professor Rosi Braidotti. Utrecht Summer School, Universiteit Utrecht. 20 August - 24 August 2018. (Equiv. to 2.0 ECTS).

Public Engagement:


  • New Perspectives - Scaling the Sublime: Art at the Limits of Landscape, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham. 15 June 2018. Talk on Martin John Callanan's artwork A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe).


Cox, George. 'Event Review: Student-Led Midlands3Cities American Studies Retreat, 22nd – 29th June 2018' US Studies Online, 22 August 2018.


I am currently a Teaching Associate for the Year 1 course 'American Literature and Culture 2: Since 1940'.


Other Research Interests:

  • Nineteenth Century American Literature, in particular Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Transcendentalism
  • Contemporary American Fiction and Poetry
  • Digital Cultures




University email address:



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