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Dr Tomos Hughes

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

profile picture English and Comparative Literary Studies


Faculty of Arts Building, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL


I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. Prior to starting at Warwick, I completed my PhD in American Studies at the University of Nottingham and taught courses in literature and intellectual history at Nottingham and Keele University.

Research interests

My research interests lie primarily in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, especially as they relate to the history and legacies of slavery and emancipation. I also have interests in novel studies, temporality, utopianism, and the relationship between the intellectual histories of race, colonialism, and Marxism.

My first monograph, due out early in 2024 with Louisiana State University Press' "Southern Literary Studies" series, is a study of the narrative culture of the Reconstruction period in the US, titled America’s Imagined Revolution: The Historical Novel of Reconstruction. The book offers the first formal and historical account of novels about the Reconstruction period as constitutive of a coherent, if evanescent, aesthetic genre: the historical novel of Reconstruction. The significance of this genre lies in the way that writers bent the temporal and formal conventions of the classical historical novel to narrate slave emancipation as revolution. Focusing on writers such as George Washington Cable, Frances Harper, Albion Tourgée, Charles Chesnutt and W.E.B. Du Bois, I argue that this aesthetic form makes revolution visible as an important and particularly difficult to theorise afterlife of plantation slavery.

My Leverhulme project is a study of the curiously entwined intellectual and cultural histories of proslavery and black radical thought, entitled Shadowing the Master Class: Proslavery in the Black Radical Imagination. The project focuses on the imagined futures and speculative cultures fostered by nineteenth-century proslavery utopians in fiction, political economy, law, and periodical culture. Tracing the way that black radical authors in particular creatively re-voiced the desires and anxieties articulated by this reactionary archive, I argue that proslavery’s foreclosed imagined futures influenced the development of literary form in the long nineteenth century, as well as giving rise to radical narratives and critiques of slavery, colonialism, and capitalism beyond that period.

Selected publications


America's Imagined Revolution: The Historical Novel of Reconstruction (In press, Louisiana State University Press, 2024)

Journal articles

"A Plantation Illogic: Narrating Proslavery's Imagined Futures" (In Press, American Literary History, 2023)

'"Can We Imagine this Spectacular Revolution": Counterfactual Narrative and the "New World Peasantry" in W.E.B. Du Bois' Scorn and Black Reconstruction', ELH 87, no 1 (2020): 179-210

Book Chapters

"Slave Labour/Wage Labour: Reading Bartleby's Refusals, 1850" in Crossings in Nineteenth Century American Culture: Junctures of Time, Space, Self and Politics, ed. Edward Sugden (Edinburgh University Press, 2022)


PhD, Nottingham

MA, Sussex

BA, York