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Originally from Cork in the Republic of Ireland, Bryan first came to York to do an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture, before completing a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Hugh Haughton. He also worked for five years at Modernism/modernity (Johns Hopkins UP), initially as Reviews Editor and then as Managing Editor of the journal’s York office. He took up a full-time teaching post in the Department of English and Related Literature in 2012 and was appointed as Lecturer in Modern Literature in 2015. He has chaired the Department’s Admissions Committee since 2017.
Bryan’s primary interests are in the fields of Irish Studies, comedy, and the modern and contemporary novel. His first book project is a study of humour in the work of John Banville, the Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist. He teaches widely across the curriculum, with an emphasis on intermediate and advanced option modules on American, British, and Irish writing from 1900 to the present. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and he was the recipient of a Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 2017.
His research interests focus on humour, Irish writing, and modern and contemporary fiction. His longstanding interest in the work of the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville has led to an article on Banville’s comedy of cruelty, a well-received interview with the author – shortly to be republished in Conversations with John Banville (UP Mississippi, 2019) – and a monograph-in-progress on John Banville’s Comic Universe. An essay on Banville and the comic uncanny will also appear shortly. He has worked on other contemporary writers including Ronan Bennett, Sebastian Barry, and Mary Robison, as well as on Molly Keane’s underappreciated Anglo-Irish fiction of the 1930s. With Dr Peter Fifield and Prof. Lawrence Rainey, he guest-edited a 270-page special issue of Modernism/modernity on Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive. He also reviews for The Cambridge Quarterly, Humor, and The Conversation.
Bryan has co-organised three international conferences at York, including Fugitive Ideas with Dr James Williams. This 2018 symposium in honour of Prof. 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; with Prof. Matthew Campbell, Dr Emilie Morin, and Dr Ríona Nic Congáil, he brought the society’s prestigious annual conference to York in 2015. IASIL 2015: Reconciliations featured four keynote lectures and 132 papers, as well as an interview and readings that attracted a large audience from beyond the university. Other public engagement activities include curating the first ever York Festival of Ideas event – a major exhibition of the photographer John Minihan’s portraits of Beckett – and an interview with the Irish writer Jennifer Johnston. He also runs the ongoing Creative Dissonance: Writing Now research strand with Dr Alexandra Kingston-Reese, a project that has twice secured support from CModS.
Bryan has wide experience of supervising dissertations at undergraduate and postgraduate level on 20th- and 21st-century fiction, comedy, and Irish literature and culture. As Supervisor or Thesis Advisor, Bryan is currently involved in the supervision of several doctoral candidates working on contemporary fiction and film. He warmly welcomes enquiries from potential research students, particularly those with proposals on the following topics:
Bryan holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice and is an Academic Supervisor for the York Learning and Teaching Award. His teaching portfolio encompasses a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules: foundational modules; topic modules; cohort-wide theoretical modules; a bridge module; intermediate option modules; period modules; four 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, he was responsible for the design of the new intermediate option module, ‘The Age of Extremes: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature’. As Programme Leader for the English and History BA, he convened the 'Texts and Histories' bridge module from 2013-18. Advanced options (previously special modules) offered have included ‘Romantic Ireland’, a multi-generic survey course on Irish literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
At postgraduate level, he has co-taught ‘The Novel Now’ and 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.