Dr Richard Robinson
Associate Professor
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 602796
Room: Office - 210
Second Floor
Keir Hardie Building
Singleton Campus

Richard Robinson is the author of two monographs, Narratives of the European Border: A History of Nowhere (Palgrave, 2007) and John McGahern and Modernism (Bloomsbury, 2016). His more recent book draws out the ways McGahern’s fiction conceals and reveals its modernist traces. McGahern’s narratives of melancholic return are often read psycho-biographically, but they also involve a return to the remnants of literature, including that of canonical modernists, such as Joyce, Proust, Yeats and Beckett. 

Richard has published widely on modernism and contemporary fiction, in journals such as James Joyce Quarterly, Journal of European Studies, Critical Quarterly, Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice and Irish University Review. He is currently developing a collaborative project on style, considered as a concept in literary criticism, theory and philosophy. He will initially be exploring the cultural conditions in the academy which led to the near disappearance of style in the 1970s, the uneasy relation between style and that branch of linguistics known as stylistics, and the way in which the legacy of modernism has affected theoretical debates about style. Richard will consider this ‘period’ reconstruction of mid-late-twentieth century style as it relates to the recent upsurge of interest in style and ethics.

His research interests also include:

  • Modernism; James Joyce; Italo Svevo; Rebecca West.
  • The afterlife of modernism in contemporary writing; Irish literature; John McGahern; Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Edward St Aubyn.
  • The literary representation of geopolitical borders.


  1. John McGahern and Modernism. London: Bloomsbury.
  2. & The Violation of Style: Englishness in Edward St Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels. Textual Practice, 1-22.
  3. 'Not Even a Shadow of Violence': Undead History in John McGahern's Anglo-Irish Short Stories. In Assessing a Literary Legacy: Essays on John McGahern. (pp. 28-44). Cork: Cork University Press.
  4. An Umbrella, a Pair of Boots, and a 'Spacious Nothing': McGahern and Beckett. Irish University Review 44(2), 323-340.
  5. ‘That Dubious Enterprise, the Irish Short Story’: The Untilled Field and Dubliners. In Nash, John (Ed.), James Joyce in the Nineteenth Century. (pp. 46-60). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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  • EN-120 English Essentials

    This is a skills-based module which will equip students with the technical and critical expertise that is necessary for their academic journey in English Literature and Creative Writing. It is designed to support the transition from post-16 study to undergraduate study and to show students *how* to become successful scholars of English. How should we read texts? How do we write essays? Focusing on an exciting anthology of texts selected by the English academics at Swansea, this team-taught module uncovers the power of written language. We will explore how writers inspire and challenge their readers, how to think critically, how to close-read, how to construct powerful arguments and how to produce written work that is rigorous, academic and convincing. This module empowers students to think, write, and persuade.

  • EN-206 Debating Texts: Theory in Literature

    Literature prompts debate, and speaks to us differently depending on the questions that we ask of it. This course looks at how our understanding of meaning in literature changes when we think about critical debates concerning the role of history, language and subjectivity in texts. We take three very different texts from different periods, and look at the ways in which the texts (and debates around them) raise questions of history, language and subjectivity, and how the texts comment on these issues. We begin with a classic of 19th century realism, Charles Dickens's HARD TIMES (1854), move on to the groundbreaking work of modernist experiment, Virginia Woolf's MRS DALLOWAY (1925), and end with a powerful example of postmodern representation, Toni Morrison's BELOVED (1987). The course will be taught by a formal lecture followed by a discussion forum, in which short passages of literary and theoretical text will be read and debated in the lecture theatre.

  • EN-207 Revolution of the Word: Modernism

    An introduction to Modernist literature, focussing upon its origins in response to the crisis of modernity, its engagement with colonialism and the First World War, its formal experimentation, its depiction of city-life and its engagement with new ideas of gender and the unconscious.

  • EN-3029 Postmodernist and Post-war Fiction

    This course examines some of the fictions of the late twentieth century which, marked by a formal self-consciousness, have sometimes been referred to as postmodernist. The usefulness of this category, regarded as a chronological period after modernism or as a self-reflexive theory of narrative, will be fully tested. We will consider how the problem of representing history is connected to the defamiliarisation of realist narrative. In the first part of the module, we study a novel which has been termed `historiographic metafiction¿, an anti-war novel which incorporates science fiction and a novella in which a woman takes charge of the narrative by seeking out her unwitting murderer. We then turn to more recent novels, two of which lead the reader directly back to the Second World War but continue to probe the consolations of mimetic realism and to question the recuperative power of memory.

  • EN-3031 Dissertation - English Literature

    The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.

  • EN-M31 Dissertation

    Individual project devised and defined in discussion between supervisor and student.

  • EN-M41 Research Practice in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English

    Supervised project on research methodology in practice. Students build a detailed bibliographical plan for their MA dissertation project.

  • EN-M69 James Joyce and Literary Theory

    This module is centred on the detailed study of the magnus opus of the Anglophone modernist novel, James Joyce's Ulysses (1922). We begin by considering the relationship between late nineteenth century naturalism (in fiction and drama) and symbolism ( in poetry) and how these aesthetic tensions informed Joyce's early development into what we now call a modernist writer. Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young man introduces us to Stephen Dedalus as he formulates his theories of language and art: this is an ironic Bildungsroman of a writer not yet capable of composing Ulysses. Our study of Ulysses concentrates on individual chapters, or pairs of chapters, which are tied to modernist thematics. We discuss the following:the transformation of the supposedly omniscient narrative voice into that of the impersonal "Arranger" of the artwork; the mind of Stephen and the body of Bloom, or soul and matter; debates between Irish cultural nationalism (voiced by the Citizen) and utopian cosmopolitanism (voiced by Bloom, a Jewish Irishman); a parody of the history of English letters and of rationalist encyclopaedism; Molly's interior life, and how mimetically it is rendered. As an aftertaste, we then scrutinise an excerpt- a mere twenty six pages - of Joyce's Finnegans Wake: "Shem the Penman" is, by now a late modernist portrait of the exiled artist. We conclude by tracing Joyce's critical reputation ( not always as secure as it is now0 in Ireland, the United States and Britain, and touch on ways in which signs of Joycean textuality are to be found in more recent fiction.


  • Coole Park, A Novel: Based on the Life of Lady Augusta Gregory and her friendship with William Butler Yeats. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Francesca Rhydderch
  • 21st Century Modernism - Modernist Poetics and Technology in the Digital Age (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof John Goodby
  • Ideas of Landscape in the Fiction of Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson and Louise Erdrich (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Rachel Farebrother
  • Pentecost Descended: Religion and Nature in the Novels of Willa Cather (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Rachel Farebrother
  • Angela Carter in Japan: A study of Angela Carter's work written during her time in Japan from 1969 to 1972. (awarded 2019)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Julian Preece