Richard Walsh



Richard Walsh came to York from a Research Fellowship at Cambridge, where he worked on innovative American literature, publishing Radical Theatre (1993) and Novel Arguments: Reading Innovative American Fiction (1995). His research on innovative fiction then extended to a theoretical interest in fictionality within the context of narrative theory, and he is now primarily known as a narrative theorist. Much of his work in this field has retained a strong literary focus, while articulating a fundamental critique of some basic concepts and assumptions in narratology: the narrator, story and discourse, mimesis, voice, emotional involvement, narrative creativity and fictionality itself—see The Rhetoric of Fictionality (2007).

The study of narrative inherently transcends media and disciplinary boundaries, though, and his research has extended to film, graphic narrative, interactive media and music. More fundamentally, he is interested in the scope and (especially) the limits of narrative as a mode of cognition, and in particular the problematic relation between narrative and complex systems.

He is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies, and of the Fictionality Research Group; and leader of the Narrative and Complex Systems group (NarCS). See also his page on



As a narrative theorist, Richard has published and given papers internationally on various dimensions of narrative, building upon the pragmatic rhetorical perspective developed in The Rhetoric of Fictionality. His work ranges over literary topics (such as reflexiveness in narrative and fiction; the ideology of narrative voice, and of narrative theory; and the public value of literary study), cultural topics (for example work on emergent and interactive narrative; and on the common basis of narrative and music) and cognitive topics (narrative cognition and its evolution; the contrast between narrative and complex systems models of behaviour; narrative and spatial cognition). Much of this work is in dialogue with scholars working in different periods, cultures, or discipline; the Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies, and the several research projects and groups associated with it, define the intersection of these circles of interest.


He is currently leading or participating in several collaborative research projects, involving the Fictionality Research Group (Narratives and Worlds), the Aarhus Centre for Fictionality Studies (Fictionality Before and Beyond Fiction), the RIDERS project (interactive and emergent narrative), the Narrative and Complex Systems group (Narrating Complexity).


Past supervision topics have included projects on various 19th and 20th century novelists and short story writers from the perspective of narrative or literary theory, as well as directly theoretical subjects (structuralism/post-structuralism, rhetoric and reader-oriented theories, narrative memory and trauma); also on the study guide and the discipline of English, and interactive narrative.

He would be interested in any new research proposals in the field of narrative theory, especially topics on fictionality, narrative and complexity, narrative and cognition, narrative across media (including new media and interactive/emergent narrative), interdisciplinary narrative studies and narrative creativity. He would also welcome inquiries about projects on innovative fiction (especially American), early film, ideological criticism, and interdisciplinary dialogue across the “two cultures.”

Richard Walsh

Contact details

Prof. Richard Walsh
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Y010 5DD

Tel: 44 1904 323338



Richard has taught modules in American Literature (19th-century to present), Victorian Literature, Approaches to Literature, Narrative Theory, Philosophy and Literature, Critical theory and Early Film.


He contributes to MA option modules on Innovative Fictions since 1950, and on Narrative, Fiction and Theory.

External activities


Richard is President of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, and a member of the Society since 2002.  He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark in 2011.  He has served as a reader for several presses and journals, and as advisor, external examiner or opponent for PhDs in various universities across Europe