Skip to main content

Staff profiles

Photo of Professor Jo Gill

Professor Jo Gill

Pro Vice Chancellor

4256

01392 724256

I am the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, having previously served as Associate Dean for Education and, prior to that, as Associate Dean for International & Development. My other role is as Professor of Twentieth-Century and American Literature in the Department of English where I teach and research in modern and contemporary English and American literature with a particular interest in poetry, confessional and life-writing and in the literature and culture of cities and suburbs. From 2011-2014, was the Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust-funded "Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network."

My primary focus to date has been on mid-century writing (see, for example, my 2021 article, "Elizabeth Bishop's Pink" in the Review of English Studies) but of late my work has ranged rather earlier and I have an article forthcoming in the leading journal, Modernism/modernity, on the poet Hart Crane (1899-1932). My latest book, Modern American Poetry and the Architectural Imagination: The Harmony of Forms (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) considers the work of poets from Crane, Wallace Stevens and Jean Toomer through to Gwendolyn Brooks, Bishop and Frank O'Hara and assesses their engagement with developments in modern architecture. The research for this book was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2015-16). My previous book, The Poetics of the American Suburbs, was published in 2013 and was supported by an AHRC research award. My article "'Quite the Opposite of a Feminist': Phyllis McGinley, Betty Friedan, and Discourses of Gender in Mid-Century American Culture" (Women's History Review, 2013) won the Arthur Miller Centre Prize for the year's best American Studies essay.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I was educated at a comprehensive school near Warrington, took my BA at Leicester, my MA at York, and after a career in publishing and in the charity sector, took up a fully-funded PhD studentship at the University of Gloucestershire. I served for three years as Secretary to the British Association for American Studies and as Co-Director of the BAAS / US Embassy Awards Scheme. I am a former governor, and then Chair of Governors, at Richard Huish Sixth Form College and I am currently a trustee of the Northcott Theatre. 

Research interests

My research focuses on confessional and life-writing, mid-twentieth century American poetry, the literature and culture of the American suburbs and the relationship between literature (specifically poetry) and architecture. My most recent book, The Poetics of the American Suburbs, was published in 2013 by Macmillan (New York) in their "Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics" series. The research for this book was supported by awards from the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am a recent holder of a British Library Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship in North American Studies. I have recently completed a book on modern and contemporary American poetry and architecture,Modern American Poetry and the Architectural Imagination: The Harmony of Forms (OUP, forthcoming), supported by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship. I have publishsed two recent articles: one on Gwendolyn Brooks was published in Humanities in Dec 2019 and another, "Elizabeth Bishop's Pink" in the Review of English Studies in 2021.

Previous books include Anne Sexton's Confessional Poetics (University Press of Florida 2007); Women's Poetry (Edinburgh University Press 2007) and The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath (2008). In addition, I am the editor of Modern Confessional Writing (Routledge 2006) and The Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath (Cambridge University Press 2006). I have also co-edited with Simon Barker, Literature as History (Continuum 2009) and with Mel Waters, Poetry and Life Writing (Special Issue of the journal Life Writing, 2009; reissued in book form with Routledge in 2010). I have contributed numerous journal articles and chapters in edited collections. 

Until 2015, I was Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust-funded "Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network": http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/research/networks/suburbs/

 

Research collaborations

From 2011-2015, I was the Principal Investigator of the Leverhulme Trust-funded "Cultures of the Suburbs International Research Network" (see http://suburbs.exeter.ac.uk/). This is a collaborative project bringing together researchers from Britain, Ireland, Australia, India and the United States of America all of whom share an interest in the cultural life of the suburbs. I am currently establishing a cross-disciplinary network of scholars and practitioners within and beyond Humanities at Exeter with an interest in "Architecture & Design". 

Research supervision

I have PhD students working on English and American Poetry, Life Writing, Modern American Fiction, and on the Literature of American cities and suburbs and would welcome enquiries about future graduate research in these fields.

Teaching

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and served for three years (Jan 2011-Jan 2014) as Director of Education for English and thereafter as Associate Dean for Education in the College of Humanities (2018-20). I taught at Vassar College, New York, in the spring of 2015 as part of a faculty exchange programme. I teach widely across the undergraduate and MA programme with a special interest in modern and contemporary literature, American literature and culture, poetry, and a particular enthusiasm for teaching first-year students!

Biography

Professor Jo Gill was educated at an 11-18 comprehensive in Cheshire; she completed her first degree at the University of Leicester, her MA at York University and her PhD at the University of Gloucestershire. She worked in publishing for several years before commencing research for a PhD and taking up an academic career. She specialises in modern and contemporary literature with a particular interest in confessional and life writing, mid-century American poetry, the cultures of the American suburbs and literature and architecture. She served for six years as a Governor and then Chair of Governors at Richard Huish Sixth Form College, Taunton, and is a former Secretary of the British Association for American Studies.