Faculty of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences | School of Humanities and Social Sciences | English and Digital Media

Prof Richard Canning

Honorary Professorial Research Fellow

Richard has taught at five UK Universities over twenty-five years.


His 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 research projects

Richard is presently completing the first critical life of 1920s English novelist Ronald Firbank for Harvard University Press (2021). He is  also contracted to write the Very Short Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Literature (Oxford University Press, 2021), and will then be writing a new life of W H Auden (Wiley/Blackwell).

He has published ten 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), the essay anthology 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read (Alyson), and a variant, critical edition of Ronald Firbank’s Vainglory, Inclinations and Caprice for Penguin Classics. He most recently co-edited Brigid Brophy. Avant-Garde Writer, Critic, Activist with Gerri Kimber (Edinburgh University Press, May 2020).

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 fifteen PhDs and M.Phils to completion, each successfully completed on time, and awarded with either no or minor amendments.

Topics supervised to date include:

  • AIDS Poetry, Memoir and Life-Writing;
    • Anglophone and Francophone Travel Writings on Algeria, 1800-Present;
    • Avant-Garde Conservatism in the Poetics of T S Eliot and David Jones;
  • Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor and the Grotesque Body in Post-War Southern Gothic Fiction;- A Cross-Cultural History of Robinsonade Narratives;- the “Decadent Scientist” in the Fin de Siècle;
    • An Enquiry into Pedagogy, Hierarchy and Educational Processes in Algerian Higher Education;
    • European Gay Male Writings of the 1930s;
  • H G Wells’s Scientific Romances; – An Enquiry into Contemporary Auto/Biographical Trauma Narratives: WE G Sebald and Others;
    • the Late Writings of William Burroughs;
    • A Linguistic Study of Cormac McCarthy’s Fictions;
  • Linguistic “Switching” Between Arabic, English and French in Algerian Social Media Discourses, from Facebook to LinkedIn; – Representations of the Anthropocene Era in Twentieth-Century Fantasy Fiction, from C S Lewis to Philip Pullman;
    • Representations of Masculinity in the Plays of Edward Albee;
  • Samuel Beckett and Schopenhauerian Buddhism;
  • The Short Fiction of Katherine Mansfield;- A Sociolinguistic Study of Algerian Educational Discourse;
    • The Use of the Gothic in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction;
    • The Writings of Michael Field.
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