Dr David Barnes

I am currently working on the AHRC-funded project The Psychic Life of the Poor: A City Unseen in Mumbai, London and New York, led by Professor Ankhi Mukherjee.

My research is interested in literary and cultural expressions of localism, nationalism and transnationalism, and in questions of race, migration, and the modern city. I am increasingly engaged with medical and environmental history, and the space of overlap between political, cultural, literary and scientific discourses. My first book The Venice Myth: Culture, Literature, Politics 1800 to the Present was published in November 2014 and dealt with the overlooked cultural and literary histories of modern Venice, reading authors from John Ruskin to Kazuo Ishiguro, and Ezra Pound to Jeanette Winterson. Current interests focus on two broad areas: race, imperialism and Atlantic modernisms, and the medical/environmental history of late-Victorian and early twentieth-century London. 

Although the bulk of my research and research outputs centre on early twentieth-century 'modernist' writers (including Pound, Eliot, Lawrence, Woolf and Hemingway), I also write on Victorian and contemporary texts. In 2016-17, I held a Lillian Gary Taylor Visiting Fellowship at the Harrison Institute, University of Virginia, and I've also been funded by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston.



Between 2013-16, I taught in Oxford across nineteenth and twentieth-century periods, teaching on the following papers:

Literature in English 1830-1910

Literature in English 1910-present

Introduction to Literature (Paper 1b)

I've also supervised undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations on a range of twentieth-century, contemporary, and Victorian topics. 

Alongside my academic interests, I also write for a variety of media, including newspapers and radio. In 2016, I was shortlisted for the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers scheme, and am currently producing a BBC Radio 3 series, 'Weird England', for Cast Iron Radio. 

My reviews have appeared in Review of English Studies, Textual Practice, the Times Literary Supplement and Times Higher Education. I've also written for The Guardian, Slightly Foxed Quarterly and The Times.


  • 'Julian Huxley at Bird City: Edward McIllhenny, Racism and Biology in Postbellum Louisiana'

  • 'Canto 26'

  • 'Beastly Flaneurs: Animal Street Haunting from the Fin-De-Siecle to the Age of Modernism'

  • 'Mexico, Revolution and Indigenous Politics in D.H. Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent'

  • 'Anti-Fascism, Nationalism and Multiculturalism in John Dos Passos'

  • More
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