photo of Tom Wright

Dr Tom Wright

Post:Senior Lecturer in English (English, American Studies)
Location:ARTS B B340

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 872649
International:+44 1273 872649

Research expertise:
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I am a specialist in nineteenth century American and British writing and culture. My research interests include rhetoric, oratory and performance; media and communication; citizenship and education; and non-fiction aesthetics. I'd be very pleased to hear from any prospective MA or PhD students hoping to work on any of this stuff. 


I have published two books on the cultural history of public speaking. The first, Lecturing the Atlantic: Speech, Print and an Anglo-American Commons 1830-70  (Oxford University Press, 2017) focuses on the public lecture as a dynamic medium of transatlantic nineteenth-century culture. The second, The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013) is an edited collection of essays approaching the same context from multiple disciplinary perspectives.  In addition, I have published essays on Thomas Carlyle, Bayard Taylor, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, the painter Richard Caton Woodville, and on the teaching of oratory. You can read the full range of my research here.  

In 2018 I have two books forthcoming: i) Transatlantic Rhetoric: A Speechmaking Anthology 1776-1914 (under contract, Edinburgh University Press) is a critical collection of key British, American, Haitian and Irish speeches intended for classroom use. ii) A volume on Orality for the Routledge Critical Idiom textbook series, surveying the history of spoken word as literature.  

 Current Projects 

- 'The Birth of Charisma': a project tracing the emergence of a language for irrational persuasion and crowd psychology in the long nineteenth century in science writing, ethnography, political theory, theology and fiction

- 'Speaking Citizens': a collaborative interdisciplinary project bringing together educational psychologists, historians and classicists to explore the relationship between listening, speaking and citizenship in Britain and America between 1850-Present, with participants from Queen Mary, University of London, Cambridge and Oxford.  


In 2017 I was awarded a University-wide Teaching Excellence Prize for 'Outstanding and Innovative Undergraduate Teaching'

In the autumn of 2017 I will be convening the 'Introduction to American Studies' module and teaching a module on 'Edgar Allan Poe' 

Faculty Roles

I am currently Director of Admissions for American Studies; and Director fo Widening Participation for the School of English


I joined Sussex in 2012. Following undergraduate study at UCL, I won a Kennedy Scholarship for graduate study at Harvard, before completing my PhD at Cambridge. I began my teaching career with lectureships at Oxford and UEA, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Edinburgh, and have also been a research fellowship at the Boston Athenaeum, and a Fulbright Fellow in Chicago. I am a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplementand a co-founder of the British Association for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, which organises regular research activities, reading groups, and a biennial conference. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2017.