Personal profile


James Purdon studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was a Herchel Smith scholar at Harvard, and worked as a parliamentary reporter before completing his doctorate in 2012. After three years as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, he joined the School of English as a Lecturer in 2015 and was appointed to a Senior Lectureship in 2022. His writing has appeared in scholarly journals including Essays in Criticism, Modernist Cultures, and the Review of English Studies, as well as mass-market publications including The Observer, the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, and Apollo.

Research overview

James researches the intersections of twentieth- and twenty-first century literary narrative with technology, media, and politics, and he has particular interests in modernist studies, Cold War-era culture, contemporary fiction, and the visual arts. His first book — Modernist Informatics: Literature, Information, and the State (Oxford University Press, 2016) — showed how new forms of surveillance and data-gathering by states influenced fiction and film at the birth of the information age, with a particular focus on figures such as Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, John Sommerfield, and John Grierson.

His other books include The Art of Identification: Forensics, Surveillance, Identity (Penn State University Press, 2021 – co-edited with Rex Ferguson and Melissa M. Littlefield), which focuses on the relationship between modern forms of identity and the media in which those forms are created and verified; British Literature in Transition, 1900-1920: A New Age? (Cambridge University Press, 2021), which surveys literary culture in Britain and the British Empire in the early years of the twentieth century; and Naomi Mitchison: A Writer in Time (Edinburgh University Press, 2023), which collects a series of essays designed to reintroduce and revivify the work of a major twentieth-century Scottish writer.

With David Trotter and Steven Connor, James edits the open-access book series Technographies (Open Humanities Press), which publishes new and innovative scholarship at the intersection of writing and technology.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Fiction and the Government of Information in Britain, 1900-1950


Award Date: 1 Feb 2013

Master of Philosophy, University of Cambridge


Award Date: 1 Jun 2006

Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge


Award Date: 1 Jun 2004


Dive into the research topics where James Purdon is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or