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Bryan studied at Trinity College Dublin before coming to York to do an MA and PhD under the supervision of Hugh Haughton, which was funded by a University of York Partner Studentship with Johns Hopkins University Press. He also worked for five years at Modernism/modernity, initially as the journal’s Reviews Editor and then as Managing Editor. He was appointed to a Lectureship in 2012. He is the Programme Leader for the English and History combined degree and a Supervisor for the York Learning and Teaching Award. He also served as the Department’s Chair of Admissions for several years.
Bryan’s research interests are in the fields of Irish Studies, comedy, and modern and contemporary fiction. He is writing a book on humour in the work of John Banville and has published several articles on the Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist. He teaches widely across the curriculum, with an emphasis on intermediate and advanced option modules on twentieth- and twenty-first-century American, British, and Irish writing.
With Peter Fifield and the late Lawrence Rainey, Bryan guest-edited a 270-page special issue of Modernism/modernity entitled Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive. His long-standing interest in the work of the award-winning Irish novelist John Banville has led to several publications – including an Irish University Review article on the comic uncanny in Eclipse (49.2, Autumn/Winter 2019) and a well-received interview collected in Conversations with John Banville, ed. Earl Ingersoll and John Cusatis (University Press of Mississippi, 2020) – as well as a monograph in progress on John Banville’s Comic Universe. He has also worked on other contemporary Irish writers such as Ronan Bennett and Sebastian Barry, as well as on Molly Keane’s underappreciated fiction of the 1930s (written under the pseudonym M. J. Farrell). Building on a lecture given at University College Dublin in 2021, he is writing an article about the American writer Mary Robison’s fragmentary fiction.
Bryan has co-organised three international conferences at York, including Fugitive Ideas with James Williams. This 2018 symposium in honour of Hugh Haughton combined public events at the Humanities Research Centre with invited papers from high-profile literary scholars on aesthetics, Irish literature, translation, and poetics. He is an active member of IASIL, the global scholarly organisation for Irish Studies. He convened a special session on ‘John Banville’s Criticism’ at Trinity College Dublin during IASIL 2019: The Critical Ground, for example. With Matt Campbell, Emilie Morin, and Ríona Nic Congáil, Bryan also brought the society’s prestigious annual conference to York; IASIL 2015: Reconciliations featured four keynote lectures and over 130 papers, as well as interviews and readings that attracted a large audience from beyond the university. Other public engagement activities include curating the inaugural event of the first York Festival of Ideas – a major exhibition of the photographer John Minihan’s portraits of Samuel Beckett – and public interviews with the distinguished Irish novelist Jennifer Johnston and the Belfast-based writer and academic Sam Thompson for Writers at York. He also ran the Creative Dissonance: Writing Now CModS research strand with Alexandra Kingston-Reese, and has chaired a roundtable interview on New Irish Writing with Lucy Caldwell, Jan Carson, and Yan Ge for the Ilkley Literature Festival. He reviews for publications such as The Conversation and The Cambridge Quarterly.
Bryan has a decade of experience of supervising postgraduate projects on 20th- and 21st-century literature and culture, comedy, and Irish writing, including the supervision of successful PhD candidates. He currently supervises two MA by Research and four PhD students, including two doctoral students who have received full funding through WRoCAH AHRC Open Competition Studentships. He is also a regular Thesis Advisory Panel member and internal examiner for York PhD candidates.
Bryan warmly welcomes enquiries from potential research students, including those with proposals on the following topics:
Bryan’s teaching portfolio encompasses a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules: first-year survey modules; topic modules; cohort-wide theoretical modules; an interdisciplinary bridge module; intermediate option modules; period-based modules; five research-led, advanced option modules; two core modules and an option module at MA level.
Having convened, lectured, and taught on ‘British and Irish Literature, 1910 to the Present’ for many years, Bryan was responsible for designing the popular Intermediate Option Module, ‘The Age of Extremes: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature’. As Programme Leader for English and History, he also convenes the interdisciplinary ‘Texts & Histories’ bridge module. His Advanced Option Modules include ‘So Funny It Hurts: Irish Comic Fiction’.
Bryan is a regular contributor to ‘Postgraduate Life in Practice’ and ‘Reading Modernity’, the core module for the MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture. He has also co-taught ‘The Novel Now’ option module.
Bryan holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice and is an academic mentor for the York Learning and Teaching Award. YLTA is an MA-level programme that supports Graduate Teaching Assistants at York to reflect on and develop their teaching practice.