London Review of Books shop window with  Sex Pistols  by John Scanlan, 2016 (Photo: Howard Trent)

London Review of Books shop window with Sex Pistols by John Scanlan, 2016 (Photo: Howard Trent)

John Scanlan is writer and researcher working in cultural history and visual culture, with specific interests in ‘waste’, cultural memory, popular music and art. 

He studied Philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow, and obtained his PhD — also from Glasgow — for a study of chance and indeterminacy in art, culture and everyday life (ESRC-funded, 1998-2001). Following this, he was an AHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of History at the University of St Andrews for three years.

For almost two decades he worked as lecturer at the universities of Glasgow, Paisley, Bristol, and Manchester Metropolitan University (where he also co-led the UoA23 submission in REF 2014). His work on ‘waste’ was additionally featured in one of four Impact Case Studies submitted by the University of St Andrews in the REF 2014 History unit.

His books include On Garbage (2005), a philosophical essay on the many lives and meanings of waste, Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar (2013), and Easy Riders, Rolling Stones (2015), which is currently being adapted for a film — titled 'Road Music' — by Los Angeles-based film director, Alex Harvey. His work has also been published in academic journals, magazines, and in a number of foreign language editions.

In 2010, he helped to found Reaktion Books' Reverb series (for which he is Series Editor), which publishes studies of the relationship between music, time and place, most of which are written by leading academics.

He is currently a research fellow with In Certain Places, a curatorial public art project in the University of Central Lancashire.