Brian Richardson’s major areas of research are international modernism, postmodernism, narrative theory, and the history of the novel. He has published six monographs, edited ten collections of essays, and published over 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 book, A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-first Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, moves on to the stories themselves, how they are fabricated and how they are unfolded, and thus presents another pillar of an interconnected theory of fictional worlds, narration, and story. It includes substantial discussions of works by Joyce, Woolf, Beckett, Kate Atkinson, and others. A final volume on fictional characters is in preparation.
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 their 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; this book includes a chapter on unnatural narratives by feminist, postcolonial, and U. S. Ethnic authors. In another book he brings together a cluster of revised essays on these and adjacent topics: Essays in Narrative and Fictionality: Reassessing Nine Central Concepts. A book of his selected writings on narrative theory has been translated into Czech.
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 (2020). He also guest-edited six special issues of journals, including an issue of Style centered on his work. His scholarly 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 translated into French, German, Czech, Chinese, Danish, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Magyar, and Italian and is forthcoming in Russian 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.
"Nonfictional Drama: Autobiography in Performance"
This volume deals with historically specific forms of factual and fictional narration within literature and various non-literary media.
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
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.
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.
“Fictional Minds: Coming to Terms with the Unnatural”
In the analysis and interpretation of fictional minds, unnatural and cognitive narratology may seem mutually exclusive.
“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.
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.
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, its paradoxes.
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?”
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.