Nicholas Coles

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Nicholas J. H. Coles (born 1947 Leeds, England) is a British-American scholar in working-class literature and composition studies, and is Associate Professor of English and Director of Composition at the University of Pittsburgh.[1]


He holds BA and MA degrees from Oxford University (Coles was educated at Balliol College, where he was awarded a first-class undergraduate degree), and he holds MA and PhD degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His 1981 PhD dissertation was The Making of a Monster: The Working Class in the Industrial Novels and Social Investigations of 1830–1855.

He writes and teaches about literacy, pedagogy, contemporary poetry, and teacher-research. His best-known book, Working Classics (1990), co-edited with Peter Oresick, was the first to highlight a seldom acknowledged working-class presence within contemporary American poetry.[2]

He is also field director of the National Writing Project, based at the University of California at Berkeley. He directed until 2002 the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, working to improve students’ writing and academic performance in K-12 schools.


He has lived in the United States since the 1970s, primarily in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He currently lives with author and painter Jennifer Matesa and their 12-year-old son Jonathan in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


  • Nicholas Coles, Peter Oresick, eds. (1995). For a living: the poetry of work. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06410-4.
  • Peter Oresick, Nicholas Coles, eds. (1990). Working classics: poems on industrial life. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06133-2.
  • Nicholas Coles, Janet Zandy, eds. (2007). American working-class literature: an anthology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514456-7.


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