Michael Docherty, PhDMichael Docherty

E-Mail:  michael.docherty@uibk.ac.at
Phone: +43 512 507-4188
Office:   40306
Office hours:  Please email to arrange an appointment.






Michael Docherty is a scholar of 20th- and 21st- century American literature and culture. Michael’s primary area of specialism is the multiethnic literary representation of the American West, with a particular emphasis on the African-American, Italian-American, and Japanese-American literatures of Southern California. Other interests include the legacy of frontier myth in 20th-century American culture, the shifting position of masculinity in American culture and its intersections with matters of race and class, the cultural representation of labor, the figure of the bald man in American culture, cultural depictions of Richard Nixon, detective fiction, and postcritique.


Michael’s first book, The Recursive Frontier: Space, Race and the Literary Imagination of Los Angeles is under contract with SUNY Press. His research has appeared in Textual Practice, Crime Fiction Studies, and the European Journal of American Culture. He is now at work on a new project which explores how California’s diverse contemporary fiction mediates and appropriates the region’s literary past to imagine radical alternatives to its histories of racial injustice.


Prior to his current position at Innsbruck, Michael lectured in the School of English and Centre for American Studies at the University of Kent; he has also worked as a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at California State University, Long Beach. Michael is co-editor of the public-facing critical publication platform Post45: Contemporaries.


Curriculum Vitae


2021 – 2025: Universitätsassistent, Department of American Studies, University of Innsbruck
2020 – 2021: Lecturer in American Literature, University of Kent
2019 – 2020: Associate Lecturer, University of Kent
2017 – 2019: Assistant Lecturer, University of Kent


2020: PhD American Studies, University of Kent
2016: MA English and American Literature, University of Kent
2011: BA (Hons) English Language and Literature, University of Oxford


Research interests

  • Literature, culture, and history of California
  • Frontier myth in modern American culture
  • Race, masculinity, and labor in American fiction
  • Hair loss and baldness in American culture
  • Richard Nixon in literature and culture
  • Postcritical theory




  • Race, and the Literary Imagination of Los Angeles, SUNY Press (under contract; anticipated forthcoming 2022).

Journal Articles

  • ‘“My own flesh and blood, old Nick”: John Fante’s Domestic Devils’. Litterae Mentis 1.3, September 2016. 
  • ‘“Please let me off this bus”: Socio-Spatial Mobility in the Mid-Century Automotive Cities of African American Popular Song’. Moveable Type 1.9, September 2017. 
  • ‘Raymond Chandler’s Spatial Interrogations: Relocating the Detective-Frontiersman’. Crime Fiction Studies 2.1, March 2021. 
  • ‘“You don’t even know how you know”: Double Indemnity as Anti-Office Discourse’. ´ European Journal of American Culture 40.1, March 2021 
  • ‘Felskian Phenomenopolitics: Decolonial Reading through Postcritical Singularities’. Textual Practice, March 2021.

Book chapters 

  • ‘To “Refract Time”: The Magical History of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad’. In 21st Century American Historical Fiction: Contemporary Responses to the Past, ed. Ruth Maxey. Palgrave, 2020.

Other scholarly essays

  • ‘Post-Postmodernism and the Contemporary Case for Richard Yates’. US Studies Online, October 2016. 
  • ‘Good Boy Gone Bad: The Rot in Mr Peanutbutter’s House’. Essay cluster on BoJack Horseman, Post45, November 2020.


  • Joseph George, Postmodern Suburban Spaces. European Journal of American Culture 37.2, June 2018. 
  • Dean Franco, The Border and the Line: Race and Literature in Los Angeles. Transatlantica, September 2019. 
  • Nicholas Coles and Paul Lauter (eds.), A History of American Working-Class Literature. Journal of American Studies 54.2, May 2020. 
  • Stephen Cooper and Clorinda Donato (eds.), John Fante’s Ask the Dust: A Gathering of Voices and Views. Modernism/modernity 28.3, September 2021

Selected Presentations

  •  As keynote speaker

‘“Westward is not accurate as a direction”: The Frontier as Bodily Condition and State of Mind in Literary Los Angeles’, Durham University Late Summer Lecture Series, 23rd September 2020.

‘The Ten-Cent Frontier: Borders and Ballrooms in the Fiction of John Fante’, University of Strasbourg Humanities Research Symposium, 10th March 2018.

  • As invited contributor and respondent

‘Losing It: Typologies of Baldness and Masculine Fragility in American Fiction’, Post45 graduate symposium, Rutgers University, 29th February 2020.

  • As panel participant

‘Altar Boys and Old Nick: John Fante’s Devilish Domesticity’, ‘Religion in American Life’ conference, University of East Anglia, 24th July 2019.

‘“They’ll crush you and you’ll deserve it”: Immigrant Labour as American Waste in John Fante’s California’, Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) conference, University of California, Davis, 7th July 2019.

‘John Fante’s Ballroom Borderlands’, Society for the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS) conference, University of Nevada, 6th May 2018.

‘Dancing on the Edge of America: Ballrooms as Sociocultural Frontiers in the Fiction of John Fante’, European and British Associations for American Studies (EBAAS) conference, King’s College London, 7th April 2018.

‘Myth-busting in the Macaroni Factory: Italian-Americans and American “Italians” in the Fiction of John Fante’: BAAS postgraduate conference, University of Essex, 25th November 2017.

‘All Pachucos go to Heaven: Grim Fandango’s Interactive Requiem for the Mexican Dead of 1940s Los Angeles’, ‘Hardboiled History’ conference, University of Warwick, 19th May 2017.

‘“Ain’t that some interpretation?”: Van Morrison’s Sonic Atlas of America’, Irish Association for American Studies (IAAS) conference, Ulster University, 28th April 2017.

‘To “Refract Time”: The Magical History of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad’, ‘Historical Fiction in the United States Since 2000’ conference, University of Nottingham, 18th March 2017.

‘“Hungry, sick; bored, desperate”: Detecting American Frontiers in Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles’, BAAS postgraduate conference, University of Leeds, 19th November 2016.

‘“Nothing but rubber heels”: Masculinity, Virility, and the Projected Female Gaze in the Automotive Cities of Black American Popular Song’, ‘Masculinity and the Metropolis’ conference, University of Kent, 22nd April 2016.


Current Courses

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