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Tom Houlton is a Lecturer in Film and Literature and a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Modern Studies at York. He joined the department in 2021 as an associate lecturer, before taking up a lecturer role in 2022. He was an associate lecturer at the University of Sussex (2012-2017), where he taught on the MA in Sexual Dissidence, and co-led the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence. He was also chief editor and submissions editor of the peer-review interdisciplinary postgraduate journal Excursions. He completed his MA in Museum Studies at New York University in 2008, and has worked at museums, galleries and other arts institutions in the United States and the UK, as well as in the construction industry. Alongside his academic publications, Tom is a creative writer and editor, and has had fiction and poetry published in Entropy Magazine, Burning House Press, and others. His monograph, Monuments as Cultural and Critical Objects, was published by Routledge in 2022.
Tom works across a number of interdisciplinary research areas. His main focus of research has been on the monument, as it occurs in Global North cultures, particularly as a colonial and postcolonial politico-cultural form. He is also interested in the psychogeographical qualities of monuments as magical, psychic objects that fulfil a function of mourning that is intimately linked with their political power. His monograph addresses these concerns, including the discussions around the Edward Colston and Cecil Rhodes monuments (as seen in the Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall movements) alongside critical race theory and decolonial theory. His work on Holocaust monuments and psychoanalysis explores questions of trauma and representation, and in particular the possibility of foreclosing future trauma through remembrance acts. He also examines LGBTQIA+ monuments alongside questions of representation and visibility, and in conjunction with ecological art, sustainability and modes of queer resistance.
His current research focuses on the sugar cane plantation and its centrality in supporting colonial power and Global North cultures, yet its comparative invisibility of representation across art and literature. He will examine how labour relations, politics, leisure, sexuality, and modes of resistance operate across this monocultural cash crop, whose ecological - as well as sociopolitical - implications are still being explored critically and artistically.
Tom contributes to a range of modules across the department, including A World of Literature I: Classics and Cultural Translations, A World of Literature II: Empire and Aftermaths, Key Concepts: An Introduction to Genre, Theory and Critical Writing, Adventures in the Archive, The Age of Extremes: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature, and American Literature: From First World War to the End of Empire.
Tom teaches on the MA in film and literature, and convenes the MA special option module ‘Back to Babylon’, which explores “Golden Age” Hollywood cinema (1930-1950) alongside key texts and concepts from queer theory.
Tom is also currently Project Evaluation Officer on the StreetLife Project, based on York’s Coney Street. This community project, funded by the UK Government Community Renewal fund, is a partnership between the University of York, City of York Council, York Civic Trust, and creative practitioners, and provides free workshops, talks, classes and exhibitions exploring public realm, adaptive reuse, sustainability, diversity, equality and access. Tom is part of the team managing the outcomes and outputs of the project, including future collaborations and funding impact.