John Williams

John Williams's picture
Professor of English

Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine, 2008
M.A. Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine, 2002
M.A. English Literature, Utah State University, 2001
B.A. Brigham Young University, 1997

My academic work so far has focused on international histories of technological/media innovation and the perceived difference of racial and cultural otherness.  My recently published book, The Buddha in the Machine: Art, Technology, and The Meeting of East and West (Yale University Press, 2014), examines the role of technological discourse in representations of Asian/American aesthetics in late-nineteenth and twentieth century film and literature.  The book won the 2015 Harry Levin Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association.  I also just published a new essay in Critical Inquiry titled “World Futures” (see video and other links about this article here) which forms part 1 of a manuscript I am working on titled The Oracles of World Time.

Selected Publications


The Buddha in the Machine: Art, Technology, and the Meeting of East and West  (Yale University Press, 2014).
* Winner of the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication (Yale University)
* Winner of the Harry Levin Prize for the Best First Book Published in the Field of Comparative Literature (American Comparative Literature Association)


–“World Futures.” Critical Inquiry (Spring 2016).

–Forthcoming: “The Ghost and the Machine: Plates and Paratext in the Book of Mormon,” Americanist Approaches to the Book of Mormon, ed. by Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman (Oxford University Press, 2016).

-Technê-Zen and the Spiritual Quality of Global Capitalism.” Critical Inquiry: 38 (Autumn 2011): 17-70. 

-“The Chinese Parrot: Technê-Pop Culture and the Oriental Detective Film.” Modernism/modernity: 18.1 (2011). 

-“The Technê-Whim: Lin Yutang and the Invention of the Chinese Typewriter.” American Literature 82.2 (2010): 389-419. *** Winner of the 2010 Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published in American Literature; read the ALS report here, pp. 9-11.

-“Global English Ideography and the Dissolve Translation in Hollywood Film.” Cultural Critique 72 Spring (2009): 89-136.  

-“Modernist Scandals: Ezra Pound’s Translations of ‘The’ Chinese Poem.” Orient and Orientalisms in American Poetry and Poetics. Ed. by Sabine Sielke and Christian Kloeckner. Frankfurt: Lang, 2009: 145-165.

-“‘I Like Machines’: Boris Artzybasheff’s Machine Aesthetic and the Ends of Cyborg Culture.” Technoculture: Special Issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities 23.1 (2007): 120-142.

-“Decolonizing Cathay: Teaching the Scandals of Translation through Angel Island Poetry.” Transformations: Special Issue on Teaching in Translation 17.2 (2007): 15-30.

-“‘Doing History’: Nuruddin Farah, Subaltern Studies, and the Postcolonial Trajectory of Silence.” Research in African Literatures 37.4 (2006): 161-176.

-“Naked Creatures: Robinson Crusoe, The Beast, and The Sovereign.Comparative Critical Studies 2.3 (2005): 337-348. (If you can read French, you might be interested to see Jacques Derrida’s responses to this essay when it was still just a seminar paper, here).

-“A Marvelous Work and a Possession: Book of Mormon Historicity in an Era of Postcolónialism.” Dialogue 38.4 (2005): 37-55.


Undergraduate: Readings in American Literature, East Asia in U.S. Literature and Film, and Literature and Techne