Gavan Lennon

Gavan Lennon


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    Research Interests

    I am a scholar of modern and contemporary US literature, specialising in the aesthetics of racial protest. My previous research focused on the construction of the small town in US southern fiction from the 1940s-1960s. In Living Jim Crow: The Segregated Town in Mid-Century Southern Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) I argued that a range of authors developed the trope of the archetypal town as a means of critiquing the reality of racial segregation. I am interested in how innovations in art and literary form can contribute to the work of racial activism. My book featured close readings of canonical writers (including William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright) and neglected authors (including Byron Herbert Reece, Lillian Smith, and William Melvin Kelley). Living Jim Crow  was awarded the 2021 Arthur Miller Centre first book prize by the British Association for American Studies and has been described as "a major contribution to understanding the South through its fiction".

    My ongoing research explores similar themes in work published since 2012. My second monograph-in-progress is tentatively titled The Literary Aesthetics of #BlackLivesMatter, 2012-2020 and explores how a range of poets and novelists reimagine exisiting literary techniques and traditions (including the elegy, second person narrative voice, and found material) as a means of inciting imagined readers to activism and protest. I play an active role in the American Studies and US Southern Studies scholarly communities nationally and internationally, and I currently serve on the executive commitees for both the British Association for American Studies (BAAS) and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL).

    Given my research background, and my current role as Associate Head of School for student experience, I am also interested in adapting critical race studies scholarship to a broader understanding of inclusive Higher Education pedagogies. I have given public talks on critical whiteness studies pedagogy, teaching #BlackLivesMatter, and combatting unconscious bias through assessment strategy.

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    Education/Academic qualification

    American & Canadian Studies, Doctorate, The Segregated Town in Mid-Century Southern Fiction, University of Nottingham

    Award Date: 20 Jul 2016

    American Literature, MA, University College Dublin

    … → 2010

    English Literature, Degree, University College Dublin

    … → 2009

    External positions

    Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching, Canterbury Christ Church University

    Apr 2019Dec 2020

    Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in American Literature & Culture, Canterbury Christ Church University

    Jan 2016Mar 2019


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