Bio

Duncan White PhotoI teach 19th and 20th century American, British, and Russian literature in the History & Literature program at Harvard University, with a particular focus on transnational modernism, empire, and the Cold War. I am also the Assistant Director of Studies for the Modern World field and am more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the concentration. 

I research and write about American and European literature of the twentieth century with an especial focus on the Cold War. I am currently working on Cold Warriors, a book about writers on both sides of the Iron Curtain that will be published in the summer of 2019 by HarperCollins in the United States and Little, Brown in the United Kingdom. Cold Warriors, which follows writers including Graham Greene, John Le Carré, Mary McCarthy, George Orwell, Andrei Sinyavsky, Stephen Spender and Richard Wright through the conflicts and crises of the ideological struggle between the Soviet Union and the West, won a 2015 Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. The project ranges from the Spanish Civil War to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and traces writers' involvement with dissidence, espionage and propaganda.

My first book, Nabokov and his Books: Between Late Modernism and the Literary Marketplace, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. I have also co-edited Transitional Nabokov (2009), a collection of essays on Nabokov.

As an undergraduate I studied English at Cambridge University before taking a Master's in Russian and East European Literature at University College London. I completed my D.Phil in English at the University of Oxford in 2011, writing a thesis on the life and work of Vladimir Nabokov. After four years working as a sports reporter for The Sunday Telegraph in London, I moved to the United States, where I took a position as a Research Fellow at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College. I joined the History & Literature program at Harvard in 2015 and have taught the sophomore, junior, and senior tutorials as well as my HL90 "England After Empire".

Outside of my teaching and research, I am a literary critic for The Daily Telegraph, reviewing contemporary fiction, literary biographies and anything to do with the Cold War. Some of my reviews are available to read in the publications section.