Jack Parlett

Jack Parlett

Junior Research Fellow in English


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I recently completed a PhD in English at Cambridge. My thesis project, entitled ‘Looking for Right Now: Cruising Pictures in Gay New York’, examines the relations between cruising and photography in the work of Walt Whitman, Frank O’Hara and David Wojnarowicz. I am in the process of revising this for publication.

My current research focusses on the literature of Fire Island, a barrier island around fifty miles south-east of New York that has long been a vacation spot for queer artists and writers from the city. W.H. Auden’s 1948 poem ‘Pleasure Island’ ushered in a tradition of literary writing about Fire Island that figures it as an ambivalent form of refuge. Although it provides respite from the dominant culture, offering a space where LGBTQ people can dance, cruise and love freely, its utopian potential is compromised by its culture of exclusivity and fixation upon body image. This ambivalence is attested to by post-Stonewall novels such as Andrew Holleran’s 1978 work Dancer from the Dance. My book project will offer a literary history of Fire Island, situating it in relation to histories of gay culture in twentieth-century America and to questions of queer space more generally.

Selected Publications


‘The Boys on the Beach: Andrew Holleran’s Fire Island’, in Narrating and Constructing the Beach (edited collection in preparation)

‘Standing Still and Walking in the Paris Arcades’ (co-written with Anne Stillman), in Arcades Materials I (forthcoming)

New York Drifters: Tehching Hsieh and David Wojnarowicz’, Performance Research (special issue ‘On Drifting’) 23.8


Looking for Right Now: Cruising in Gay New York (in preparation)


‘As They Are’ (review of Andrew McMillan’s playtime and David Tait’s The AQI), Poetry London, Issue 92 (Spring 2019)

Colour Your Loneliness’ (review of Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City), Cambridge Humanities Review, Issue 13 (2017)

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