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Brian Richardson

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Professor, English

(301) 405-9656

3233 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise

Post-1900 British and Irish

Curriculum Vitae

Brian Richardson’s major areas of research are international modernism, postmodernism, narrative theory, and the history of the novel. He has written five books, edited ten collections, and published close to 100 articles. These deal with a range of topics, including modern fiction, narrative theory, reader response theory, the theory of fictionality, the narratives of literary history, aesthetic value, feminist analysis, and the poetics of modern drama. His current projects focus on modernist fiction. One volume, Books, Sex, Catastrophe: Stories of Misreading in Modern Fiction, is in its final stages. His future research will feature studies of the fiction of Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

Much of his work has been engaged with narrative theory as he attempted to expand existing models to be able to incorporate more radical techniques and practices of modern and postmodern experimental fiction. His first book, Unlikely Stories: Causality and the Nature of Modern Narrative, is primarily about fictional worlds; its emphasis is on characters’ (and readers’) interpretations of the events around them and the storyworlds they inhabit. His next monograph, Unnatural Voices, explored unusual and impossible narrators and acts of narration. That book analyzed unusual voices in several of Beckett’s works and examined second- and first-person plural narration. It was awarded the Perkins Prize for the year’s best book in narrative studies His latest book, A Contemporary Poetics of Plot: Narrative Beginnings, Middles, and Endings, moves on to the stories themselves, how they are fabricated and how they are unfolded, and thus presents another base or pillar for an interconnected theory of fictional worlds, narration, and story. It includes substantial discussions of works by Joyce, Woolf, Beckett, Kate Atkinson, and others.

In the jointly authored volume, Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Current Debates, written with David Herman, James Phelan, Peter Rabinowitz, and Robyn Warhol, each scholar provides a condensed overview of our positions on several subjects: authors and narrators, story and temporality, narrative space, characters, readers and reception, and narrative and aesthetic value. The book was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title. Richardson has written another volume that elucidates the general theory and outlines the history of antirealist or “unnatural” narratives: Unnatural Narrative: History, Theory, and Practice.

He has edited or co-edited four anthologies: Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames (2002); Narrative Beginnings: Theories and Practices (2009); A Poetics of Unnatural Narratives (with Jan Alber and Henrik Skov Nielsen, 2013; paper 2015); and, with Jan Alber, Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges (forthcoming). He also guest-edited six special issues of journals, including an issue of Style centered on his work. His articles have appeared in ELH, New Literary History, Twentieth Century Literature, Critique, Studies in the Novel, College English, Philological Quarterly, Comparative Literature Studies, Modern Drama, The James Joyce Quarterly, and many other journals. His work has been or is being translated into French, German, Czech, Chinese, Danish, Arabic, Magyar, Russian, Turkish, and Polish.

He served as president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative and of the Joseph Conrad Society of America and is on the editorial boards of Conradiana and Frontiers of Narrative Studies. He has given nine keynote addresses and sixty-five invited lectures in twenty countries, including Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Israel, China, and Singapore. He has taught at the University of Florida and the University of Tübingen, and has offered seminars at Aarhus University, the University of Bologna, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Lisbon, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.

Find additional publications on Brian Richardson's website and Amazon Author Page.

 

Publications

"Nonfictional Drama: Autobiography in Performance"

This volume deals with historically specific forms of factual and fictional narration within literature and various non-literary media.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
The contributions address the question of how and why the respective medium, the historical context, socio-cultural norms, and aesthetic conventions can (or cannot) formulate certain claims to factuality or fictionality within a given narrative. More specifically, the collected essays clarify that the validity claims of a text are equally tied to its historical framework, its particular medium, and its respective narrative practice. The discussion, analysis, and comparison of historical peculiarities on the one hand and an extended media arsenal on the other thus enables the contributors to uncover and describe narrative-specific characteristics of factual and fictional narration in their diverse forms of expression. In line with the disciplinary diversity of its contributors, the volume is aimed both at media-scientifically oriented narratologists and literary scholars as well as social scientist and scholars in the humanities who are invested in the interdisciplinarity of narrative theory.

Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges

Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges offers a number of developments, refinements, and defenses of key aspects of unnatural narrative studies. The first section applies unnatural narrative theory and analysis to ideologically charg

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges offers a number of developments, refinements, and defenses of key aspects of unnatural narrative studies. The first section applies unnatural narrative theory and analysis to ideologically charged areas such as feminism, postcolonial studies, cultural alterity, and subaltern discourse. The book goes on to engage with and intervene in theoretical debates in several areas of both critical theory and narrative theory, including affect studies, immersion, narration, character theory, frames, and theories of reception and interpretation. Antimimetic perspectives are also extended to additional fields, including autobiography, graphic narratives, drama and film, performance studies, and interactive gamebooks. Written by an international assemblage of distinguished and emerging narrative scholars and theorists, this collection promises to greatly enhance the study of narrative and further advance the frontiers of narrative theory.

Unnatural Narratology

Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges offers a number of developments, refinements, and defenses of key aspects of unnatural narrative studies.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
The first section applies unnatural narrative theory and analysis to ideologically charged areas such as feminism, postcolonial studies, cultural alterity, and subaltern discourse. The book goes on to engage with and intervene in theoretical debates in several areas of both critical theory and narrative theory, including affect studies, immersion, narration, character theory, frames, and theories of reception and interpretation. Antimimetic perspectives are also extended to additional fields, including autobiography, graphic narratives, drama and film, performance studies, and interactive gamebooks. Written by an international assemblage of distinguished and emerging narrative scholars and theorists, this collection promises to greatly enhance the study of narrative and further advance the frontiers of narrative theory.

A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives

Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative. But with the proliferation of antimimetic writing, traditional narrative theory has been inadequate for conceptualizing and theorizing a vast body of innov

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative. But with the proliferation of antimimetic writing, traditional narrative theory has been inadequate for conceptualizing and theorizing a vast body of innovative narratives. In A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, Brian Richardson proposes a new, expansive model for understanding story and plot, including beginnings, endings, temporality, and unusual narrative progressions. While he focuses on late modernist, postmodern, and contemporary narratives, the study also includes many earlier works, spanning from Aristophanes and Shakespeare through James Joyce and Virginia Woolf to Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter.
 
By exploring fundamental questions about narrative, Richardson provides a detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive theory that includes neglected categories of storytelling and significantly enhances our treatment of traditional areas of analysis. Ultimately, this book promises to transform and expand the study of story and plot.

A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives

Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

In A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, Brian Richardson proposes a new, expansive model for understanding story and plot, including beginnings, endings, temporality, and unusual narrative progressions. While he focuses on late modernist, postmodern, and contemporary narratives, the study also includes many earlier works, spanning from Aristophanes and Shakespeare through James Joyce and Virginia Woolf to Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter.

“‘Books Were Not in Their Line’: The Material Book and the Deceptive Scene of Reading in To the Lighthouse”

This chapter explores the overwhelming presence of reading in To the Lighthouse.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
Richardson argues that the act of being read is a major concern in the novel, including measuring intellectual achievement, literary disputes, and concerns about the endurance of authors over time. Most characters are inadequate readers, disparate from Woolf's own passionate experience as a reader.

“Fictional Minds: Coming to Terms with the Unnatural”

In the analysis and interpretation of fictional minds, unnatural and cognitive narratology may seem mutually exclusive.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
They each highlight different aspects of what narrators and characters think and feel, and their explanatory grounds differ. An unnatural reading unearths the narrative features, such as literal mind reading, that cannot be reduced to real-world possibilities, whereas a cognitive approach may focus on what is analogous to real-world cognition, or it may explain how unusual fiction is made sense of in cognitive terms. This article offers a synthesis in which the contrast between the two is closely examined. Then the article makes a case for a dialectical approach in which readings move from one position to another in order to achieve a more rewarding and encompassing understanding of fictional minds in general and unnatural minds in particular. The argument is developed through a reading of Peter Verhelst’s The Man I Became and through a discussion of the case of mind reading.

“Postscript: Unusual Voices and Multiple Identities"

In the postscript to Pronouns in Literature, Brian Richardson brings his narratological expertise in pronouns to the collection and reviews the analytical and theoretical contributions made by each chapter.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
He situates the book in relation to a history of growing literary experimentation with pronouns, and the consequent rise in critical and especially narratological attention to pronouns. Richardson draws out patterns across the chapters, noting particularly the interesting frequency of focus on significant text-internal shifts in pronoun use and related issues of voice and perspective. This is but one of several avenues for further research arising from the chapters and noted by Richardson; others include the surprising new insights on uses of I, autofictionality, and unnatural narratology. His contribution rounds up the collection with a keen critical eye, helpfully highlighting of the book’s key advancements to knowledge, and suggesting where study of this area could go next.

Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice (THEORY INTERPRETATION NARRATIV)

In this book, Brian Richardson, founder of unnatural narrative studies, offers a theoretical model that can encompass antirealist and antimimetic works from Aristophanes to postmodernism.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice provides the first extended account of the concepts and history of unnatural narrative. In this book, Brian Richardson, founder of unnatural narrative studies, offers a theoretical model that can encompass antirealist and antimimetic works from Aristophanes to postmodernism. Unnatural Narrative begins with a sustained critique of contemporary narratology, diagnosing its mimetic bias and establishing the need for a more comprehensive account. This new approach results in original theoretical insights into the basic elements of story, such as beginnings, sequencing, temporality, endings, and narrative itself.
 
Applying these theoretical insights, Richardson also provides a compelling alternative view of the history of narrative. He traces a genealogy of unnatural narratives from ancient Greek and Sanskrit works through medieval and renaissance fiction to eighteenth-century and romantic fiction. The study continues through the twentieth century, discussing the unnatural elements of Ulysses and other early twentieth-century texts, and engages with contemporary fiction by offering an alternative account of postmodernism. Unnatural Narrative makes an essential intervention in narrative theory and an important contribution to the history of the novel.

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative offers a collection of foundational essays introducing the reader to the full scope of unnatural narrative theory: its meaning, its goals, its extent, and its paradoxes.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative offers a collection of foundational essays introducing the reader to the full scope of unnatural narrative theory: its meaning, its goals, its extent, its paradoxes. This volume brings together a distinguished group of international critics, scholars, and historians that includes several of the world’s leading narrative theorists. Together, they survey many basic areas of narrative studies from an unnatural perspective: story, time, space, voice, minds, narrative levels, “realism,” nonfiction, hyperfiction, and narrative poetry. Rarely have these fundamental concepts been subjected to such an original and thoroughgoing reconceptualization. Much of the book is directed toward an investigation of experimental and antirealist work. Each essay focuses on texts and episodes that narrative theory has tended to neglect, and each provides theoretical formulations that are commensurate with such exceptional, albeit neglected, works. A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative articulates and delineates the newest and most radical movement in narrative studies. This anthology will be of great interest to students and scholars of narrative studies and of the history and theory of modern fiction.

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative offers a collection of foundational essays introducing the reader to the full scope of unnatural narrative theory: its meaning, its goals, its extent, its paradoxes.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
This volume brings together a distinguished group of international critics, scholars, and historians that includes several of the world’s leading narrative theorists. Together, they survey many basic areas of narrative studies from an unnatural perspective: story, time, space, voice, minds, narrative levels, “realism,” nonfiction, hyperfiction, and narrative poetry. Rarely have these fundamental concepts been subjected to such an original and thoroughgoing reconceptualization. Much of the book is directed toward an investigation of experimental and antirealist work. Each essay focuses on texts and episodes that narrative theory has tended to neglect, and each provides theoretical formulations that are commensurate with such exceptional, albeit neglected, works. A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative articulates and delineates the newest and most radical movement in narrative studies. This anthology will be of great interest to students and scholars of narrative studies and of the history and theory of modern fiction. Other Books by Richardson, Brian:

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates addresses two frequently asked questions about narrative studies: “what is narrative theory?” and “how do different approaches to narrative relate to each other?”

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:
In engaging with these questions, the book demonstrates the diversity and vitality of the field and promotes a broader dialogue about its assumptions, methods, and purposes. In Part One, the co-authors explore the scope and aims of narrative from four distinct perspectives: rhetorical (Phelan and Rabinowitz), feminist (Warhol), mind-oriented (Herman), and unnatural (Richardson). Using case studies (Huckleberry Finn, Persuasion, On Chesil Beach, and Midnight’s Children, respectively), the co-authors explain their different takes on the same core concepts: authors, narrators, narration; plot, time, and progression; space, setting, and perspective; character; reception and the reader; and narrative values. In Part Two, the co-authors respond to one another’s views. As they discuss the relation of the approaches to each other, they highlight significant current debates and map out key developments in the field.

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates (Coauthored)

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates demonstrates the diversity and vitality of the field and promotes a broader dialogue about its assumptions, methods, and purposes.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates addresses two frequently asked questions about narrative studies: “what is narrative theory?” and “how do different approaches to narrative relate to each other?” In engaging with these questions, the book demonstrates the diversity and vitality of the field and promotes a broader dialogue about its assumptions, methods, and purposes.

In Part One, the co-authors explore the scope and aims of narrative from four distinct perspectives: rhetorical (Phelan and Rabinowitz), feminist (Warhol), mind-oriented (Herman), and unnatural (Richardson). Using case studies (Huckleberry Finn, Persuasion, On Chesil Beach, and Midnight’s Children, respectively), the co-authors explain their different takes on the same core concepts: authors, narrators, narration; plot, time, and progression; space, setting, and perspective; character; reception and the reader; and narrative values. In Part Two, the co-authors respond to one another’s views. As they discuss the relation of the approaches to each other, they highlight significant current debates and map out key developments in the field.

Narrative Beginnings: Theories and Practices

The first major volume to focus on beginnings, this collection brings together theoretical studies and critical analyses of this critical but neglected topic in a wide range of narrative works spanning several centuries and genres.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

Beginnings can be quite unusual, complex, and deceptive. The first major volume to focus on this critical but neglected topic, this collection brings together theoretical studies and critical analyses of beginnings in a wide range of narrative works spanning several centuries and genres. The authors, using diverse theoretical perspectives, ask what conventions structure our understanding of beginnings before we encounter them; how best to analyze and comprehend beginnings in historical, traditional, and postmodern works; and how endings are (often unexpectedly) related to beginnings.

Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Contemporary Fiction

Richardson presents a study that explores in depth one of the most significant aspects of late modernist, avant-garde, and postmodern narrative.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

Richardson presents a study that explores in depth one of the most significant aspects of late modernist, avant-garde, and postmodern narrative. Unnatural Voices analyzes in depth the creation, fragmentation, and reconstitution of experimental narrative voices that transcend familiar first- and third-person perspectives. Going beyond standard theories that are based in rhetoric or linguistics, this book focuses on what Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Beckett and more recent postmodernists, actually do with narration.

Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames

This anthology brings together essential essays on major facets of narrative dynamics, that is, the means by which "narratives traverse their often unlikely routes from beginning to end."

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

This anthology brings together essential essays on major facets of narrative dynamics, that is, the means by which "narratives traverse their often unlikely routes from beginning to end." It includes the most widely cited and discussed essays on narrative beginnings, temporality, plot and emplotment, sequence and progression, closure, and frames. Includes essays by E.M. Forster on story and plot; Vladimir Propp on the structure of the folktale; M.M. Bakhtin on the chronotope; Nancy K. Miller on plot and plausibility; Edward Said on beginnings; Jacques Derrida on the frame; among others.

Unlikely Stories: Causality and the Nature of Modern Narrative

This first book-length study of causality and narrative investigates the complex web of causal issues present in all narratives and regularly probelmatized in twentieth century works.

English

Lead: Brian Richardson
Dates:

This first book-length study of causality and narrative investigates the complex web of causal issues present in all narratives and regularly probelmatized in twentieth century works. These include the shifting laws of probability that attempt to govern fictional worlds, the reader's implication in the causal dilemmas that confront central characters, the contested relations between philosophic theories and fictional practices, and the role of cause in determining just what constitutes a narrative.