Dr Kathryn Napier Gray

Dr Kathryn Napier Gray

Associate Professor (Reader) in Early American Literature

School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

Dr Kathryn Napier Gray can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Natural history
  • Print culture
  • Transatlantic
  • Colonialisation
  • New England Studies
  • The Mayflower
  • Indigenous studies
  • American literature


With research specialisms in American literary studies, and the literatures of colonial New England especially, my work responds to questions of literary form, transatlantic print culture, and the politics of the cultural change and transformation in the colonial landscapes of North America.

My undergraduate teaching includes modules on American literature, including American crime fiction, and I supervise, and have supervised, postgraduate projects on narratives of cultural encounter, dystopian fiction, narratives of gender in early modern and contemporary fiction, eighteenth-century letters, contemporary genre fiction and war poetry. I supervise projects in creative writing and literary studies.

As part of the lead up to the anniversary of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing in 2020, I’ve been involved in supporting the planning and delivery of a number of public projects, including the Legend and Legacy exhibition at The Box (Plymouth’s new Museum and Art Gallery) and the National Trust’s Tide and Time curatorial response. Postgraduate students have had opportunities to participate in these projects as part of their research training. In January 2020, I organised and hosted a day-long event showcasing research-led Mayflower-related projects at the University of Plymouth’s Research Festival.

My research, conferences and other events have been variously and partly funded by the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Association for American Studies, Californian Institute for Technology, the University of Glasgow and the University of Plymouth, as well as the US Embassy Small Grants scheme. As part of my research, I've worked with archival resources from the American Antiquarian Society (Mass.), the Huntington Library (LA), The Royal Society, The Bodleian, and the British Library.  

I’m the Faculty lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.


I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Glasgow. I moved to Plymouth after completing my PhD in 2004.

MA (Hons), MPhil, PhD (University of Glasgow) 

Professional membership

I'm a member of the British Association for American Studies, the Society for Early Americanists and the Transatlantic Studies Association.



Teaching interests

Undergraduate teaching

My core teaching interests are in American literature, and my two option modules, The American Novel and American Crime Writing, are part of the undergraduate English and Creative Writing programmes. In these modules students read some classic American texts, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and F.Scott Fitzgerald in American Novel, to writers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy in American Crime. 

I also lead the work-based learning module, Working with Literature, which gives students the opportunity to complete a placement as part of their undergraduate programme. The module also help students articulate their subject-specific and transferable skills to a potential graduate employer. 

Graduate teaching

I have contributed to the MA programme with a module called The British Atlantic, an interdisciplinary module looking at the literatures of the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century.

I am interested in postgraduate research projects that are shaped around questions of cultural transformation and change, around gender and around the literatures of print, literary form, nature and the environment in the colonial Atlantic world. 



Research interests

I completed my PhD at the University of Glasgow, and my first monograph, John Eliot and the Praying Indians of Massachusetts Bay, was published by Bucknell University Press in 2013. My research interests focus on 17th and 18th century transatlantic literature and culture and my next book-length study, Transatlantic Travel, will be an examination of natural historical texts and transatlantic fictions in the long eighteenth century.

I’ve developed research and public engagement projects with external partners, focusing on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing (1620-2020), as well as the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas at Gravesend in 1617. 

Research groups

Grants & contracts

The US Embassy / BAAS, funded the 2016 The Mayflower and its Afterlives lecture at Plymouth University. (2016)

The Research Center for Urban Cultural History, UMass (Boston) and Plymouth University co-funded my participation in the planning ofa four-year project: “Explorations in the Urban Atlantic.” (2011)

Small Research Grant from the British Academy: funded tripsto the Bodleian Library, Dr Williams Library (London) and the Royal Society.(2009)

Californian Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Glasgow University: Researchtrip to the Huntington Library, California. (2003)

Malcolm Bradbury Award, for the best research proposal inthe field of American Literary Studies: Research trip to the American Antiquarian Society, Massachusetts. (2002)




  • ‘Native American Voices in Colonial North America’ in the Routledge Companion to Native American Literature, ed. Deborah Madsen. Routledge, 2015
  • John Eliot and the Praying Indians of Massachusetts Bay: Communities and Connections in Puritan New England. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2013
  • “Nature, Nation and Nostalgia: Narratives of Natural History in Spanish and British America (1750-1800) article co-authored with Helen Cowie, Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies 36 (4) 2013: 545-558
  • “Curiosities of the New World and John Winthrop, Jr.’s, Epistolary Visits to the Royal Society”, in Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations, eds Daniel Maudlin and Robin Peel. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England 2013
  • “ ‘How may wee come to serve God?’: Spaces of Religious Utterance in John Eliot’s Indian Tracts.” The Seventeenth Century 24 (1)2009: 74-96
  • “ ‘keep wide awake in the eyes’: Seeing Eyes in Wendy Rose’s Poetry,” Transatlantic Voices: European Interpretations of Native American Literature. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Pp.127-149.
  • “Captive and Captivating: The Spectacle of Animals in Early American Natural History” The Colonial Literatures of America (Eds) Susan Castillo and Ivy Schweitzer. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. Pp. 517-532.
  • Literary Encyclopedia Online https://www.litencyc.com/ (2004): “N. Scott Momaday” (2000 words); “Reverend John Eliot” (600 words); “N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn” (2000words)
  • “Written and Spoken Words and Worlds: John Eliot’s Algonquian Translation” Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations 7(2) 2003: 241-260.