Research Profile

Prof Richard
Canning

Subject Leader - English & Creative Writing

Faculty of Education and Humanities

  • Role: Professor, British and American Literature; Subject Leader, English & Creative Writing

    Area: Arts – English & Creative Writing

    ​Administr​ative Positions

    ​Subject Leader, English & Creative Writing

    Ot​​​her positions

    • Member, Academy for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV
    • Member, Steering Committee, James Purdy Society
    • Member, Council for College and University English (as Head of Subject)
    • Member, Modern Languages Association (US)
    • Member, American Literature Association (US) 
  • Richard teaches the following:

    • optional level five BA module LIT2048: Sex, Sexuality and Twentieth-Century Fiction
    • MA module LITM027 Narrative and the Deviant Body. 

    Richard also supervises BA dissertations (LIT4016) andcontributes to the Beginning Theory module (LIT1034). ​

  • Richard’s research interests include 

    • gay and lesbian literatures written in English, especially in prose fiction 
    • sexuality in global literatures and cultures, 1870-present
    • literary biography
    • life writing
    • sexuality and performance
    • sexuality and film
    • sexuality and memoir
    • sexuality and travel writing
    • notions of sexual deviance
    • inter-war European literatures and cultures
    • decadence
    • aestheticism
    • visual and literary symbolism
    • Ronald Firbank
    • E M Forster
    • Oscar Wilde
    • Edmund White
    • James Purdy
    • AIDS literature and ​culture

    Current r​esearch projects

    Richard is presently completing the first critical life of 1920s English novelist Ronald Firbank for Harvard University Press. He is contracted to write the Very Short Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Literature (Oxford University Press), and will also soon begin editing a critical volume on British Gay Male Autobiography (Cambridge University Press). He has published nine authored or edited books, including two volumes of Conversations with Gay Novelists for Columbia University Press (Gay Fiction Speaks and the Lambda Literary Award-winning Hear Us Out), two collections of shorter gay male fiction, Between Men and Between Men 2 (Carroll and Graf; Alyson), two Brief Lives – of Oscar Wilde and E M Forster – for Hesperus Press, a collection of American AIDS fiction, Vital Signs (Carroll & Graf) and the essay anthology50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read. Richard’s most recent book is a variant, critical edition of Ronald Firbank’s Vainglory, Inclinations and Caprice for Penguin Classics.

    Areas for supervision of research students

    Richard welcomes applications for postgraduate research on any areas relating to gay and lesbian literary and cultural studies in English, as well as in sexuality and literature or culture; nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first century British and American fiction, travel writing, memoir, decadence, symbolism and the fin de siecle. He has supervised ten PhDs to date, each successfully completed on time, on topics such as European gay male writings of the 1930s; AIDS poetry and memoir; the writings of Michael Field; the “decadent scientist” in the fin de siècle; a linguistic study of Cormac McCarthy’s fictions; the late writings of William Burroughs; H G Wells’s scientific romances.

    Current Supervisions:​

    Richard presently acts as primary supervisor for three PhDs:

    (1) Mysticism and Modernism: the influence of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love and The Cloud of Unknowing on the works of T.S. Eliot and David Jones;

    (2) The Shorter Fiction of Katharine Mansfield;

    (3) Samuel Beckett, Schopenhauer and Buddhism.

    He is also second supervisor on the following PhDs:

    (1) An Enquiry into Contemporary Auto/biographical Narrative with Photography: W G Sebald and Others;

    (2) Contemporary New Zealand and Global Life Writing: a Reflective Creative Writing dissertation.

    He also acts as Director of Studies for the following PhD:

    (1) Representations of Anglican Spirituality in Twentieth-Century Fantasy Fiction, from C S Lewis to Philip Pullman.