Faculty Biographies

John Lennon

John Lennon

Director of Graduate Studies & Professor


Office: CPR 360 D
Phone: 813-974-2663



I am a professor of English and the University of South Florida and the Graduate Director.

My research interests are varied and I publish on a variety of subjects: from working-class literature to street art and graffiti. No matter what I am publishing on, though, there is usually one thread that connects them all: my work is principally concerned with how marginalized individuals exert a politicized voice in collectivized actions. For example, my book Boxcar Politics: The Hobo in Literature and Culture 1869-1956 (UMASS Press, 2014) reestablishes the hobo’s political thorns, examining this figure as part of a resistive working-class collective. Working Class Literature(s): Historical and International Perspectives Volume I and II are open access co-edited collections that explore working class literature from a global perspective. My work has appeared in various edited volumes and journals including Cultural Studies Review, New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry, American Studies, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, and Acoma. 

My newest book, Conflict Graffiti: From Revolution to Gentrification (University of Chicago Press, 2022) explores the many permutations of graffiti in conflict zones—ranging from the protest graffiti of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson and the Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt to the tourist attraction murals on the Israeli Separation Wall and the street art that has rebranded Detroit and post-Katrina New Orleans. For this project, I am enormously grateful to have received various grants (including an NEH Summer Grant) to travel to Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, England, Sweden, Brazil, Germany and, within the U.S., New Orleans and Detroit.


At USF, I have had the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses for English majors as well as General Education courses. These courses include: American Modernism, Working-Class Literature, Film and Culture, Contemporary U.S. Literature, Film as Narrative Art and Cultural Studies and the Pop Arts. Since I have become Graduate Director, I currently teach mostly in the graduate program.


At USF, I have chaired and been a committee member on a number of wonderful MA students’ thesis portfolios. The process of working with students to revise their papers with an eye to publication is a ton of fun. For students who wish to work with me (and please do!), we will discuss not only “how-to” issues directly connected to the thesis paper such as research, (re)writing, and editing but we will also discuss professional concerns such as publication, conferences, and potential PhD writing samples. We will meet regularly while you revise, and you will have weekly check-ins with me to discuss your progress, issues, and successes you are encountering. If you are interested in working with me, set up an appointment and I’ll be happy to discuss possibilities.


As you can see from my publications and research interests, I work with a wide variety of texts, time periods and methodologies in US literature and culture. One of the greatest pleasures for me as an interdisciplinary researcher is to latch onto a topic and then chase the idea where ever it leads me. But one research thread—that is more like a rope—is my interest in examining how minority figures exert their political voices.  Whether it is writing about working-class hobos collectivizing their labor to fight against unjust hiring practices or graffiti writers marking walls with anti-government sentiments during large demonstrations, I’m interested in that way individual acts of resistance are intertwined with collective movements.

I am a reader on a number of PhD committees where I am working with students involved in a number of exciting projects: from examining the politized spaces of slaughterhouse imagery in contemporary US novels to understanding the way literature of war recreates tropes of toxic masculinity. I am currently chairing a PhD student who is looking at the evolving role of motherhood as seen in 19th and 20th century American Literature.

If you are interested in working with me on your dissertation, please make an appointment with me and we can chat.