Nicholas Gaskill

Nicholas Gaskill is Associate Professor of American Literature in the English Faculty and Tutorial Fellow at Oriel College. His work focuses on US literature and philosophy from Emerson to the present.

Dr. Gaskill's first book, Chromographia, looks at the ways that U.S. writers imagined color experience between 1880 and 1930. It reads a diverse array of writers - from Stephen Crane and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to L. Frank Baum and Nella Larsen - in light of the material history of chromatic technologies and all the things that bright color came to stand for at the turn of the twentieth century: commodity culture, “civilization,” racialized sensation, avant-gardism, the perceptual lives of small children, and much else besides.

Dr. Gaskill is currently in the early stages of writing a book about the ideas of reality and aesthetic construction that have shaped American literature, especially of the past hundred years. Tentatively titled Reality in America: Aesthetic Education and the Sense of the Real, the book will focus on novels and poems that explicitly question the relation between literary artifice and metaphysical reality, and it will ask what literary writers can teach us about the task of building a common world. This work builds on his long-standing interest in American pragmatism, both as a historical phenomenon and as a resource for thinking about literature and criticism.

Faculty page:

Selected publications

  • Chromographia: American Literature and the Modernization of Color (University of Minnesota Press, 2018)
  • The Lure of Whitehead, co-edited with A.J. Nocek (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).
  • “How to Read Color: Writing, Wallpaper, and the Case of Charlotte Perkins Gilman,” Word & Image, special issue on “Nineteenth-Century Color,” ed. Charlotte Ribeyrol 36.1 (2020): 7-17.
  • “The Articulate Eye: Color-Music, the Color Sense, and the Language of Abstraction,” Configurations 25.4 (fall 2017): 475-505.
  • “The Close and the Concrete: Aesthetic Formalism in Context,” New Literary History 47.4 (autumn 2016): 505-24.
  • “What Difference Can Pragmatism Make for Literary Study?”, American Literary History 24 (summer 2012): 374-89
  • “Red Cars with Red Lights and Red Drivers: Color, Crane, and Qualia,” American Literature 81 (December 2009): 719-45.
  • “Experience and Signs: Towards a Pragmatist Literary Criticism,” New Literary History 39 (winter 2008): 165-83.