Dr Alan Bilton
Senior Lecturer
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 604710

Alan Bilton's main areas of academic interest are contemporary American fiction, silent cinema, and modernism and postmodernism. He is the author of An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction (Edinburgh/New York University Press, 2002), which explores the work of Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Cormac McCarthy, Rolando Hinojosa, E.Annie Proulx, Bret Easton Ellis, Douglas Coupland and Thomas Pynchon), and co-editor of the three-volume American in the 1920’s: Literary Sources and Documents (Helm Publishing, 2004). An Introduction to American Fiction was described by The Library Journal as “a welcome addition to the often-bloated scholarship on literary postmodermism” and “a fine starting point for any novice in the field”, while America in the 1920’s, reviewed in The European Journal of American Culture, was described as “a wonderful insight into 1920’s America which ranges well beyond any narrow definition of literature … a suburb cultural history, particularly valuable to those who really want to understand the nature and romanticised memory of the ‘roaring twenties’”. He has also written articles on Saul Bellow, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Don DeLillo. His book ‘Silent Film Comedy and American Culture' was published by Palgrave Macmillan last year (2013). Alan's new novel, The Known and Unknown Sea’ will be published by Cillian Press in March.

He is also a novelist, and lectures in creative writing here at Swansea. His first novel, The Sleepwalkers’ Ball, was published by Alcemi in 2009, a comic love story inspired by (amongst other things) silent film: part slapstick comedy, part anxiety dream, and part surreal city tour. Since then he has published a number of short stories and a second novel, The Known and Unknown Sea is forthcoming.

Areas of Expertise

  • Creative Writing (Fiction)

Publications

  1. Cinema as Refuge: Frank Borzage and the Mystical Tradition. Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal 46(1), 33-42.
  2. Silent Film Comedy and American Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. Hot cats and big men on campus: From this side of paradise to the freshman. European Journal of American Culture 27(2), 93-110.
  4. ‘Nobody Loves a Fat Man: Fatty Arbuckle and Conspicuous Consumption in 1920’s America’. 57(1)
  5. The First Things and the Last: Buster Keaton and the South. , 487-502.

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Teaching

  • AM-215 American Word/American Image

    This module explores the central work of Twentieth Century American Fiction in relation to American Visual culture, including film, art, photography and pop culture.

  • AM-221 American Word/American Image

    This module explores the central work of Twentieth Century American Fiction in relation to American Visual culture, including film, art, photography and pop culture.

  • AM-316 Contemporary American Fiction

    This interdisciplinary module explores the role of the writer in America in the Twenty first century, and seeks to account for the seemingly paradoxical energy of the novel in an age of apparent exhaustion.

  • AM-336 American Studies Dissertation

    The American Studies dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module for American Studies students only, which runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching on the American Studies degree. The topic must fall within staff research and teaching interests.

  • EN-117 Creative Writing: Fiction Genres

    An innovative module that will introduce the student to the art of writing within a broad range of genres. Weekly lectures will introduce each student to authors of specific genres, such as crime writing, historical fiction, fairytale, horror, fantasy, science fiction, romance and writing desire. Each lecture will be followed by a seminar that will focus on a variety of methods used to write in that specific genre. Regular assignments will offer the student a opportunity to write creatively - a unique opportunity to expand, discover, and explore their emerging writerly voice. Built into the module is a wide reaching reading programme that will assist each student to be conversant with the traditions of writing in a specific genre, whilst encouraging close reading and editing skills. Students will be taught by published authors who work within these particular genres, and will also have the opportunity to hear these authors read & discuss their own new work and works-in-progress. The module aims to examine the structure, voice, setting and genre, of specific written material so as to initiate curiosity, create empathy, and focus on increasing an understanding of the structures used within writing character, setting and historical context in a specific genre. Emphasis will be placed on the theory and practice of reading, comprehension and writing.

  • EN-3014 Further Fiction Writing

    This module consists of a series of weekly one-hour lectures, each followed by a one-hour workshop, leading the student through the theory and practice of writing fiction:regular assignments will be brought to the workshop to be considered communally. Technical exercises will also be undertaken during each class, leading to discussion and building the practical comprehension of the techniques of fiction writing. Built into the module is a systematic programme of reading, both of modern and earlier works of fiction, to render students conversant with the traditions in which they are participating, and to encourage close reading skills. Concentrating on short prose, the course will teach the fundamentals of narrative and plotting; the use of imagery and setting in fiction; the art of the character-sketch and the elaboration of character through setting, dialogue and narrative. The course will be taught by a fluid mingling of tutor-led discussion and workshop-based exercises; writing techniques will be clarified by the reading and discussion of named works, shedding light on creative practice by exercises in mimesis and parody. The module will be evaluated by a 7,000-word portfolio to be submitted at the end of the semester, comprising either one long story or several shorter pieces, together with a 500-word reflective essay.

  • EN-3026 Creative Writing Personal Project

    Students taking this module must submit a portfolio of creative writing of between 7-8,000 words in any genre, subject to Departmental approval. The Personal Project is an independent study module for which each student will receive 5 hours of individual or group supervision. Supervisions will take place at regular intervals with set targets, and will primarily involve feedback on the style and structure of the submission.

  • EN-M34 Long Fiction 1

    This module consists of a series of weekly three-hour lectures, leading the student through the theory and practice of writing fiction: regular assignments will be brought to the workshop to be considered communally. Technical exercises will also be undertaken during each class, leading to discussion and building the practical comprehension of the techniques of fiction writing. Built into the module is a systematic programme of reading, both of modern and earlier works of fiction, to render students conversant with the traditions in which they are participating, and to encourage close reading skills. Concentrating on long fiction, the course will teach the fundamentals of narrative and plotting; the use of imagery and setting in fiction; the art of the character-sketch and the elaboration of character through setting, dialogue and narrative. The course will be taught by a fluid mingling of tutor-led discussion and workshop-based exercises; writing techniques will be clarified by the reading and discussion of named works, shedding light on creative practice by exercises in mimesis and parody. The module will be evaluated by a 7000-word portfolio to be submitted at the end of the semester, comprised of the first three chapters of a novel, together with a 1000-word reflective essay.

  • ENMD00 Creative Writing Dissertation

    Individual Creative Writing project devised and defined in discussion between supervisor and student (within the parameters pertaining to genre detailed in the MA Creative Writing handbook)

Supervision

  • Constraint:a polyphonic collection of cross-genre short fiction unified by the theme of constraint - whether self-imposed or within boundaries of gender, social class or race (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar
  • '''''The Sign of Fear; Nuclear Criticism and the Apocalyptic Mind-set in post-9/11 American television drama' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Sarah Gamble
  • Nature Writing: An analysis of the issues presented by Nature in contemporary American fiction. (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Rachel Farebrother
  • The Twelfth Man (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Francesca Rhydderch
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Francesca Rhydderch
  • Stockings and Slut-dropping: A night of Burlesque (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar
  • Finding One’s Voice: Exploring Creativity in the context of writing flow and the whole being (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • The Book of J. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar
  • Echoes to the Least Footfall (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar
  • 'Forest of Many Paths' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Sarah Gamble