Dr William Stephenson

Associate Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature; Programme Leader, BA English Literature (Combined Honours).


MA, PhD, PGCert. in Learning and Teaching (HE)


I am an Associate Professor in English.  After taking my BA at Churchill College, Cambridge in 1986, I spent five years as a film subtitler then began postgraduate study at the University of Leeds, where I gained my PhD in 1997.  I joined the University of Chester in 2001, after having taught at the Universities of Leeds, Hull and Central Lancashire. 


I specialize in literary theory, twentieth and twenty-first century fiction, particularly science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction and the literature of addiction. Modules I teach on include:

  • Science Fiction
  • Literature and Addiction
  • Modernism and After
  • Brave New Worlds
  • Criticism and Theory
  • Approaches to Literature

Postgraduate supervision:

I have supervised successful PhDs on ‘Male Intimacy in Modern Women’s Writing’ and ‘Adaptation and Appropriation in and of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Between Texts: The Resonant Fictions of Sarah Waters’. 

I welcome enquiries about research projects on:

  • The literature of addiction
  • Science fiction / dystopian literature
  • Contemporary fiction
  • Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, the US counterculture
  • John Fowles
  • David Mitchell


My main research interests include science fiction, dystopian fiction, queer theory, Hunter S. Thompson, John Fowles and David Mitchell (the novelist, not the comedian).   I have recently given conference papers on Hunter S. Thompson and the Hell’s Angels, and Timothy Leary and the posthuman.  I am currently working on Timothy Leary and the US counterculture.

Published work

As well as in my two award-winning collections, Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud and Source Code, my poems have been published in various magazines, including  Anon, Envoi, Iota, The Interpreter’s House, The North, Orbis, Pennine Platform, The Rialto and Sentinel Literary Quarterly.


Source Code [poetry] (Bristol: Ravenglass Poetry Press, 2013) [Winner, Ravenglass Poetry Prize 2012]

Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud [poetry] (Matlock: Templar, 2012) [Winner, Iota Shot Award 2012]

Gonzo Republic: Hunter S. Thompson's America (New York: Continuum, 2011).

John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman: A Reader's Guide (London: Bloomsbury, 2007).

Writers and Their Work: John Fowles (Tavistock: Northcote, 2003).


Book chapters and articles

‘Fear and Loathing Versus the Guru Trip: the Anti-Mystical Altered States of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, accepted for Altered States: Reflections on Induced Transcendence in Popular Culture, ed. Steven Knowles and Christopher Partridge (forthcoming 2014).

‘Hippies with Mega Nukes: The Culture, Terror and the War Machine in Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games, in Bridging fantasies: Critical responses to the writing of Iain (M.) Banks, ed. Katherine Cox and Martyn Colebrook (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013).

‘A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East: Neo-Colonialism and Self-Fashioning in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Curse of Lono’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 52:2 (January 2011), pp. 217-32.

‘“Moonlight bright as a UFO abduction”: Science Fiction, Present-Future Alienation and Cognitive Mapping’ in David Mitchell: Critical Essays, ed. Sarah Dillon (Canterbury: Gylphi, 2011).

 ‘Literature 1945-1990’ and ‘Literature 1990-The Present’, Studying English Literature, ed. Ashley Chantler and David Higgins (London: Continuum, 2010).

‘From Image to Frame: The Filming of The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, Textual Revisions: Reading Literature and Film, ed. Brian Baker (Chester: Chester Academic Press, 2009), pp. 116-38. 

‘A Terrorism of the Rich: Symbolic Violence in Bret Easton Ellis’s Glamorama and J. G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes’, Critique:  Studies in Contemporary Fiction 48:3 (Spring 2007), pp. 278-93.

‘Island of the Assassins: Cannabis, Spectacle and Terror in Alex Garland’s The Beach’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 46:4 (Summer 2005), pp. 369-81.

‘Scoring Ecstasy: MDMA, Consumerism and Spirituality in the Early Fiction of Irvine Welsh’, Journal for Cultural Research, 7:2 (April 2003), pp. 147-63.

‘Eroticism and Lightness in “Wandering Rocks”’, European Joyce Studies 12: Reading Joyce’s ‘Wandering Rocks’, ed. Andrew Gibson and Steven Morrison (New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002), pp. 121-40.

‘William Golding’s To the Ends of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy and Queer Autobiography’, A/B: Auto/Biography Studies, Volume 15 number 1 (Summer 2000), pp. 5-21.

 ‘Sex, Drugs and the Economics of Masculinity in William Golding’s Rites of Passage’, Signs of Masculinity, ed. Antony Rowland (Atlanta and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998), pp. 178-98.