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Nathaniel Sikand-Youngs

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Productions of Landscape: Space, Place and the Capital of Nature in California, 1848-1917

My thesis apprehends the imposition and development of American settler-colonial rule over California through a survey of Anglophonic writings about its landscapes. I begin in my first chapter with gold rush-era diaries and memoirs, then turn to the wave of periodicals that emerged later in the 1850s, particuarly Hutchings’ California Magazine and the Overland Monthly. My third chapter picks up the surge in federally-funded scientific writings about the west after the Civil War, primarily through the geologists Clarence King and John Wesley Powell. I then look at the rise of the social novel in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, especially Frank Norris and Jack London, before turning to southern Californian fiction about local conflicts over water rights, exemplified by the works of Mary Austin. My project concludes with writings about the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

By focusing on the interrelation of economy, environment, and colonial rule, my research traces how American imaginings of a Californian landscape co-produced, reflected, and also in many ways challenged the larger imperial project.  

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Peer Reviewed

"Preservation Park and Themescape Economics in Oakland, California." European Journal of American Culture 37, no. 3 (2018): pp. 265-283. doi: 10.1386/ejac.37.3.265_1.

"'Another spirit, other thoughts, another colouring': Performances of Race in Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 From the New World." Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 23, no. 2 (2017): pp. 317-330. http://hjeas.unideb.hu/2018/12/10/volume-xxiii-number-2-2017/.

Public Engagement 

"2nd Air Division Stories." Articles for the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library, Norwich, UK. 2016-2017. https://2ndairstories.wordpress.com. 


"Bearings in the Bay" opinion column (11 articles). The Daily Californian newspaper. Berkeley, CA: September – October 2015. www.dailycal.org/author/nsikandyoungs. 

Public Engagement & Impact

Volunteer writer, researcher and web-designer, 2nd Air Division Memorial Library, Norwich, UK. August 2016 – October 2017.

  • Designed and wrote for a WordPress-based blogsite (www.2ndairstories.com) that tells factual stories about the U.S. servicemen and women based in East Anglia during the Second World War to promote the library's digital archive. 
  • Delivered a talk, including semi-dramatised readings of my articles from the above blogsite, at the Norfolk and Norwich Millenium Library to introduce a public audience to the memorial library's digital archive. Part of the series America, Norfolk, and Two World Wars

Other Research Interests

Landscape and Environment

California and the American West 

Literature and Capital 

United States from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century  


British Association of Nineteenth-century Americanists, 2018 – present

British Association for American Studies, 2013 – present

Funding and Awards


Funding for a month-long research trip to the Bancroft and the Huntington Libraries in California to consult unpublished materials for my MRes:

  • Postgraduate Short-Term Travel Award, British Association for American Studies (BAAS);

  • School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies Postgraduate Research Travel Fund, University of Nottingham. 


School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies Masters Studentship (12 months), University of Nottingham. Tuition and stipend.


Undergraduate Essay Prize, BAAS. 

Prize for Outstanding Performance in American Studies – Final Year, University of East Anglia (UEA). 


Ambassador's Award for Best Undergraduate Essay, BAAS. 


Joe Greenwell Scholarship, UEA. 

Ede and Ravenscroft Prize, UEA. 

Prize for Outstanding Performance in American Studies – Second Year, UEA.


Superseded by Joe Greenwell Scholarship. Arthur Miller Scholarship, UEA.

Other Academic Roles and Service

Postgraduate Representative. Steering Committee, British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. 2020-present.

Assistant, “Scaling the Nineteenth Century”, British Association of Nineteenth Century Americanists, 4th Biennial Symposium, 16 December 2019.

Assistant to the conference organisers (paid), "Exposing Secrets: The Past, Present and Future of U.S. National Security Whistleblowing and Government Secrecy", 17 and 18 January 2019. Keynotes: Ewen MacAskill (The Guardian), John Kiriakou (former CIA) and Edward Snowden (former NSA). June 2018 – January 2019.

  • Assisted Kaeten Mistry (University of East Anglia) and Hannah Gurman (New York University) in organising this two-day, international and public-facing conference at NYU's London campus. I was responsible for disseminating the call for papers; creating and managing the conference email address; arranging the printing and delivery of conference materials; greeting and registering conference attendees upon their arrival; and delivering a conference paper for an absentee presenter. 

Student Representative, International Student Advisory Team, University of East Anglia. Sep. 2014 – Apr. 2015

  • Met once per week with one international student for each semester to help them practise their conversational English.

Chair. Student Staff Liaison Committee, School of Art, Media, and American Studies, UEA. 2015.

Chair. Student Staff Liaison Committee, Department of American Studies, UEA. 2014-15.