Thesis Title: Beyond the Groves of Academe: The Campus Novel in the Age of Precarity
Supervisor: Dr Patrick Hayes
My DPhil research aims to unpack how a range of cultural issues are engaged by the contemporary campus novel, which I conceive as an aesthetic object invested with distinctive sociological capabilities by its position at the heart of the academy. Underpinning my work is a conception of education and art as twin social goods with the capacity to drive change; as such, a central contention is that recent additions to the genre constitute a departure from the blueprinted ‘send-up’ of an insular academic world, instead grappling with broader cultural concerns such as labour casualisation, discrimination, and questions of meaningful living.
Beyond the Groves of Academe explores the literary response to such issues by authors including Ben Lerner, Elif Batuman, Christine Smallwood, and Brandon Taylor. Through an expanded conception of precarity – a usefully elastic concept which does justice to the distinctiveness of the issues under consideration while also suggesting their connectedness – I aim to account for the campus novel’s development from comical romp to politically-engaged social critique.
You can find me on Twitter / X @MeenanOisin.
Research interests: contemporary American literature; aesthetic education; canonicity, institutionality, and representation; precarity and experience; literary value.