Dr Rachel Bryan

  • Twentieth-century Literature and Culture
  • Unlived Lives in Literature
  • Memory and Modern Narrative
  • Literature and the Law
  • Henry James and Jamesian Afterlives
  • Narrative and Self-actualisation
  • War Literature
  • Guilt after 1945

 

I work on literature of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My particular research interest concerns the writing of 'aftermath': literary texts that express the unique and challenging perspectives on selfhood and identity, personal and national history, made available to those who have lived through and beyond times of war. My PhD thesis (University of Cambridge) considered the role of 'unlived lives' in the work of Henry James, Elizabeth Bowen and Kazuo Ishiguro. I examined how each of these writers registered both the potency and indeterminate ethical status of those counterfactual speculations that were drawn upon as a response to the violence of the twentieth century. My next project is a monograph on literature's role in representing and theorizing those extra-legal forms of guilt that gripped Europe after the Second World War. Focusing specifically on the feelings of collective and inherited guilt that Hannah Arendt described as 'metaphorical' in nature, I am interested in exploring how post-war literary expression developed the ability to critique and supplement assumptions about personhood, responsibility and culpability used in legal practice.  

  

  

Publications

  • Unlived Lives, Imaginary Widowhood and Elizabeth Bowen's A World of Love

  • "[I]t's a Splendid Style, but It's a Dangerous Style": Henry James and Elizabeth Bowen

  • The Return of the “Spiritual Soldier”: Rebecca West’s Henry James

  • British Literature and Culture in Second World Wartime: For the Duration

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