Michael Millner is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UMass Lowell.

Michael Wallace Millner, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
English, American Studies
O'Leary Library - 4th Floor


American Studies; a globally oriented American Literary Studies (especially of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries); Political & Critical Theory; Public Humanities & Digital Humanities; Gender & LGBQ Studies

Research Interests

American Studies; a globally oriented American Literary Studies, especially of the 19th and 20th centuries; Political & Critical Theory; Public Humanities & Digital Humanities; 1965-'66 New York City Scenes; the Political Economy of recent Cognitive Science


  • Postdoc, University of Chicago, Harper Fellow, Society of Fellows
  • Ph.D: English, University of Virginia
  • MA: Modern Studies, University of Virginia
  • BA: Princeton University


Michael Millner is an interdisciplinary teacher, scholar, exhibit curator, and writer focused on bringing fresh perspectives to American literature, film, art, and music of the 19th and 20th centuries. His writing appears in scholarly journals, para-academic publication, and mainstream outlets. His forthcoming book "Chaos and Cool," about the Lower East Side of New York arts scene in the early 1960s, will be published by Hachette in 2025. His earlier book, "Fever Reading: Affect and Reading Badly in the Early American Public Sphere," investigated ideologies of reading from the late 18th century to the Civil War. From 2020-2022, Millner served as the Nancy Donahue Professor in the Arts and in that position designed, wrote, and orchestrated the “Visions of Kerouac” exhibit at the Lowell National Historical Park (part of the National Park Service), which included the “On the Road Scroll” and more than 100 additional objects, primarily from the university’s Kerouac archive. The exhibit drew 5000 visitors. Millner also oversees the university’s Kerouac archive, the most comprehensive collection of Kerouac material in the world. He directs the university’s Kerouac Center, which coordinates public humanities events (recently: poetry slams, city-wide quotation banners) and brings speakers to campus.

Millner is currently the vice president of the Kerouac Foundation and has served as the president of the New England American Studies Association. He is chair of the university’s Arts and Archive Committee and is a member of the university’s Master of Public Administration Executive Committee, and he has overseen the Arts Administration portion of that program. Millner is a member of the editorial advisory board of "ESQ," the oldest academic journal in the U.S. dedicated to 19th century American literature, and he peer reviews for other journals and academic presses. Although Millner finds his home in an English Department, his training is in American studies and 20th-century philosophy. His classes and research incorporate African American literature, film, and theory, as well as LGBTQ+ history and culture, and he is always curious about Digital Humanities projects and has occasional attempted his own.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • UMass Lowell Interdisciplinary Online Teaching Award (2014)
  • English Department Teaching Excellence Award (2008), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • University of Chicago Society of Fellows (2003) - University of Chicago
  • Junior Fellow (2003) - University of Virginia Society of Fellows

Selected Publications

  • Millner, M. and William Moylan (2023) "On the Structure of Feeling in Bob Dylan's “I've Made up my Mind to Give Myself to You.” Analyzing Recorded Music, Routledge.
  • Millner, M. (Spring 2022) "Kerouac's Archive Fever at 100," The Missouri Review.
  • Millner, M. (2020). Magus of Mass Production (April 2020). The Spectator (US)
  • Millner, M. (2019). "Why Blackface?". The Conversation
  • Millner, M. (2019). “Homo Probabilis, Behavioral Economics, and the Emotional Life of Neoliberalism” . Postmodern Culture,29(2).
  • Millner, M. (2018). “Want Real Affirmative Action? Don’t Look to Harvard,” . The Weekly Standard
  • Millner, M. (2018). “Why I Stopped Writing on My Students’ Papers”. The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Millner, M. (2017). "The American Crime Novel and the Question of Identity Politics” in The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction. Cambridge University Press
  • Millner, M. (2016). “‘The Feels’: Jack London and the Mass Cultural Public Sphere” in The Oxford Handbook to Jack London. Oxford University Press
  • Millner, M. (2016). "On Dylan's Nobel". The Brooklyn Rail
  • Millner, M. (2016). "Pictures from a Scene: Dylan and Warhol, Fifty Years On". First of the Month
  • Millner, M. (2013). "The Ends of Identity Politics and the Case of King Kong". Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory,69(4) 111-132.
  • Millner, M. (2012). "Fever Reading: Affect and Reading Badly in the Early American Public Sphere" (pp. xxii, 188 pp.). New England University Press
  • Millner, M. (2011). "The Senses of Reading Badly: The Example of Antebellum 'Obscene Reading'". ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance,57(3) 275.
  • Millner, M. (2005). "Post Post-Identity" (57:2 pp. 541-554). American Quarterly
  • Millner, M. (2002). "The Fear Passing the Love of Women: Sodomy and Male Sentimental Citizenship in the Antebellum City". Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory,58(2) 19-52.
  • Millner, M., (1999). “Hypertext and Literary Learning”. Currents in Electronic Literacy,1(1).

Selected Presentations

  • The Casino and the Museum: Plimoth Plantation, the Wampanoag, and the Effects of Neoliberal Sovereignty, November 2013 - Washington, D.C.
  • On Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road' - BBC 5 'Up All Night' Programme, September 2012
  • Notes on Re-Occupying the Past, Digitally - Digital Frontiers Conference, September 2012
  • Scandal! Sensation! Seduction! Fever Reading in the Past and the Present - Spring Speakers Series, May 2012 - Boston, MA
  • Digits, Data, and Dilemmas: Digitization and Knowledge Production in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies, April 2012 - Berkeley, CA
  • Making Tribal Culture and History Public: The Wampanoag, Professional Historians, and Plimoth Plantation - New England American Studies Association Conference, November 2011 - Plymouth, MA
  • The Psychoeconometrics of Happiness; or, Depressed? Maybe It's... - Faculty Research Series in FAHSS, October 2011 - Lowell, MA
  • The Senses of Reading Badly in the Nineteenth Century: The History of the Book, Affect Theory, and Imagining Future Methodologies - C19: The Society for Nineteenth Century Americanists, May 2010 - Penn State University
  • Print Culture and Antebellum Scandal, November 2008 - Santa Fe, NM
  • How to Be Gay in the 21st Century: Anti-Identity Arguments and the Future of Sexual Politics, November 2007 - Providence, RI
  • The Labor of the Negative: Depression and Neoliberalism - American Studies Association Conference, October 2007 - Philadelphia, PA
  • King Kong Returns: From the New Deal to Neoliberalism - Salon Talk, February 2007 - Lowell, MA
  • Terror & Torture, September 2006 - University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
  • Cultural Studies and Public-Sphere Theory - Masters of Humanities Program, July 2006 - Dartmouth, NH
  • The State of the State - Midwest Modern Language Association Conference, November 2005 - Minneapolis, MN
  • The Space of the Public Sphere: The Example of the Antebellum Sporting Press, November 2005 - Washington, D.C.
  • Literacy, Emotion, and Antebellum Reading Publics, November 2004 - Atlanta, GA
  • Manhattan Harems: Class and Middle-Eastern Exotica in Antebellum Mass Culture - Nineteenth-Century American Section Panel, Modern Language Association Conference, 2003 - New York
  • Does Liberalism Have Feelings? - Narrative: An International Conference, March 2003 - Berkeley, CA
  • The 'Fegee Mermaid' and Melville: 'Exotics' in Antebellum Manhattan - American Studies Association Conference, November 2002 - Houston, TX
  • Queer Historiography Before the Great Divide - Queer Scholarship Lecture Series, December 2001
  • Intimate Publics: Sensationalism and White Heterosexuality in Antebellum America - American Studies Association Conference, November 2001 - Washington, D.C.
  • Pornography and the Public Sphere in Antebellum New York - Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Annual Conference, March 2001 - Philadelphia, PA
  • Sensational Subversions in the Antebellum City - Southern American Studies Association Conference, February 2001 - Atlanta, GA
  • Sentimental Citizenship and Calamus Love - The Many Cultures of Walt Whitman Conference, November 1998 - Camden, NJ
  • T.S. Eliot in the Museum Gift Shop: Tradition, the Canon, and Pop Culture in the 'Waste Land' - Midwest Modern Language Association Conference, November 1997 - Chicago, IL
  • Rorty's Romance of the Future and Derrida's Specters of the Past - Midwest Modern Language Association Conference, November 1996 - Minneapolis, MN

Selected Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits

Millner, M., curator, "Visions of Kerouac," Lowell National Historical Park, 2022.