Dr Rachel Bryan

BA, MA, MPhil, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow since 2019

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 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 war 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 will explore how post-war literary expression developed the ability to critique and supplement assumptions about personhood, responsibility and culpability used in legal practice.