William Handley

Associate Professor of English
William Handley
Email handley@usc.edu Office THH 404E Office Phone (213) 740-3733

Research & Practice Areas

The American West; American Studies; 19th and 20th Century American Literature; Modernism.

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, Moderator, Working Group on Fiction and History


  • Ph.D. English, University of California, Los Angeles, 11/1997
  • D.Phil. English Literature, University of Oxford, England, 7/1995
  • M. Phil. British Literature, 1880-1960, University of Oxford, England, 5/1988
  • B.A. English; Political Science, Stanford University, 6/1986
  • M.A. Humanities, Stanford University, 6/1986
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Associate Professor of English, University of Southern California, 05/01/2002 –
    • Assistant Professor of English, University of Southern California, 01/01/1999 – 01/01/2002
    • Assistant Professor of Literature and of English and American Literature, Harvard University, 01/01/1995 – 01/01/1999
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My research interests predominantly concern the literature, film, historiography, and culture of the American West, past and present. I have also written about and teach other aspects of British and American literature, particularly modernism and narrative theory.

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Visiting Scholar, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, $10,000, Spring 2016
  • Book

    • Handley, William R., ed. (Ed.). (2011). The Brokeback Book: From Story to Cultural Phenomenon. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
    • Handley, William R, and Nathaniel Lewis (Ed.). (2004). True West: Authenticity and the American West. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (2002). Marriage, Violence, and the Nation in the American Literary West. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Handley, W. R. (2022). “‘The Very Borderland of Our Act’: The Queer West, Historical Violence, and the Intersectional Future.”. The Routledge Companion to Gender and the West pp. 223-240. Routledge Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (2015). “A Whole without Transcendence: Isherwood, Woolf, and the Aesthetics of Connection.”. The American Isherwood pp. 63-78. University of Wisconsin Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (2011). “The Pasts and Futures of a Story and a Film”. (Vol. The Brokeback Book) pp. 1-23.. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (2009). “The Popular Western” in ‘A Companion to the Modern American Novel’, ed. John T. Matthews. (Vol. 10) pp. 437-453.. Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Handley, W. R. (2007). “The Vanishing American (1925)” in *America First: Naming the Nation in U.S. Film*, ed. Mandy Merck. pp. 44-64.. Routledge.
    • Handley, W. R. (2004). Willa Cather: “The West Authentic,” The West Divided. pp. p. 72-94.. Lincoln, NE: True West: Authenticity and the American West/University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
    • Handley, W. R. (2004). “Freeways in the City of Angels” in *Working Sites: Texts, Territories, and Cultural Capital in American Cultures*, eds. William Boelhower and John Leo. pp. p. 178-207.. University of Amsterdam Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (2003). “Wister’s Omniscience and Omissions” in ‘Reading The Virginian in the New West.’ Eds. Melody Graulich and Stephen Tatum. pp. p. 39-71.. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (1993). The Ethics of Subject Creation in Bakhtin and Lacan. pp. p. 144-162.. Mikhail Bakhtin: Carnival and Other Subjects/Rodopi Press.
    • Handley, W. R. (1991). “War and the Politics of Narration in Jacob’s Room” in ‘Virginia Woolf and War: Fiction, Reality, and Myth’. Ed. Mark Hussey. pp. p. 110-133.. Syracuse University Press.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Handley, W. R. (2004). “Western Fiction” in Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, ed. Jay Parini. Vol. 4, 334-343. University of Oxford Press.

    Journal Article

    • Handley, W. R. (2019). Re-Viewing Western U.S. Rephotography in the Anthropocene. KronoScope: Journal for the Study of Time. Vol. 19.2 (2019), pp. 153-187.
    • Handley, W. R. (2005). Detecting the Fictions of History in *Watershed*. Callaloo/Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. p. 305-312.
    • Handley, W. R. (2004). Belonging(s): Plural Marriage, Gay Marriage, and the Subversion of ‘Good Order’. Discourse/Wayne State University Press. pp. p. 85-109.
    • Handley, W. R. (2001). Distinctions without Differences: Zane Grey and the Mormon Question. Arizona Quarterly/University of Arizona. Vol. 57, pp. 1, 1-33..
    • Handley, W. R. (1995). The House a Ghost Built: Nommo, Allegory, and the Ethics of Reading in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Contemporary Literature/University of Wisconsin Press. Vol. 36, pp. 4, 676-701..
    • Handley, W. R. (1994). The Housemaid and the Kitchen Table: Incorporating the Frame in To the Lighthouse. Twentieth Century Literature/Hofstra University. Vol. 40, pp. 1, 15-41..
    • Susan J. Rowsowski Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentorship, Western Literature Association, Fall 2016
    • Wylder Award for Exceptional Service to the Western Literature Association, Fall 2014
    • USC-Mellon Mentoring Award, Spring 2014
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, , 2000-2001
    • Huntington Library Research Fellowship Recipient, Keck and Mayers Fellowship, 1998
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Executive Secretary and Treasurer, Western Literature Association, 11/2021 – 10/2024
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), 08/16/2022 – 08/15/2023
    • Director of Graduate Admissions, Dept. of English, 09/2019 – 08/2022
  • Administative Appointment

    • Director of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, Department of English, 2007 – 2011
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English, 2003 – 2005

    Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • General Editor, “Postwestern Horizons” Book Series for the University of Nebraska Press, 2002 –

    Professional Offices

    • Executive Secretary and Treasurer, Western Literature Association, 2010 – 2014
    • President, Western Literature Association, 2004-2005