Owen Walsh

Owen Walsh

PG Researcher

Summary: PhD student, researching "coloured cosmopolitanism" on the Pacific Coast c.1918-1941. My primary interests are in African American political and cultural history.

My Research

How does our view of black internationalism change if we anchor it in the West Coast of the American continent, rather than in the usual sites such as New York City? This is the principal question to which my research responds. In doing so, I focus on a small selection of African-American individuals who authored literary work which engaged in different ways and extents with the Pacific coast, and who expressed multivalent cosmopolitan sensibilities. Covering a range of individuals, from intellectual celebrities such as Langston Hughes and Chester Himes, through the semi-obscure William Attaway, to almost unknown figures such as Juanita Harrison and Susie Revels Cayton, my work seeks to offer insights into early-mid twentieth century black American cultural politics. 

I am being supervised by Kate Dossett and Gina Denton. 

About me

I received a BA in English and History at the University of Leeds in 2015, with First Class Honours. My BA research project considered black poet, novelist, and activist Claude McKay as an "intellectual", relying on Gramsci to define this. I followed this immediately with an MA in Race and Resistance, again at Leeds, from which I graduated with Distinction in 2016. My MA research looked at how and to what extent racial binaries were challenged in the work of Claude McKay and naturalist Popular Front author William Attaway. I began my PhD at Leeds in October 2016, and anticipate completing it in 2019 or 2020.

Conference papers

'The Communist Politics and Primitivist Sensibilities of Claude McKay', The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic, University of Central Lancashire, October 2017 

'The "English Inning" of Claude McKay, Transnational Writer and Socialist', What's Happening in Black British History VIII, University of Huddersfield, May 2018

'Racial Disidentification in the Travel Diary of Juanita Harrison', Society for the History of Women in the Americas Annual Conference, London School of Economics, June 2018 


2015 School of History and IMS MA Scholarship

2016 Marion Sharples Prize for the best dissertation by a taught MA student in the School of History

2016 School of History and IMS PhD Scholarship

2017, 2018 PGR Extraordinary Fund travel grant 

2018 BAAS Postgraduate Travel Award 


I teach a strand titled 'Red and Black: African Americans and the Left in the Early Twentieth Century' on HIST1055: Historiography and Historical Skills, and a strand centred on Claude McKay's memoir A Long Way from Home on HIST1300: Primary Sources for the Historian.