Portrait of Dr Derek Ryan

Dr Derek Ryan

Senior Lecturer in Modernist Literature
Director of Graduate Studies (Paris)

About

BA (Hons), Strathclyde; MLitt, PhD, Glasgow

Derek Ryan is Senior Lecturer in Modernist Literature and Director of Graduate Studies (Paris). He joined the University of Kent in September 2013, having previously held the post of Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Exeter and worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Glasgow, where he completed his PhD.

Research interests

Derek’s primary research specialisms are in modernist literature, animal studies and critical theory, and he has published widely in each of these areas. His first monograph, Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory: Sex, Animal, Life (Edinburgh UP, 2013), explores the relationship between culture and nature, embodiment and environment, human and nonhuman, life and matter across Woolf’s writings. In doing so, it brings modernism into dialogue with Deleuzian philosophy, posthumanism and new materialism. His second monograph, Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction (Edinburgh UP, 2015), offers a wide-ranging account of theoretical approaches to animality in modern and contemporary thought, with chapters on ‘Animals as Humans’, ‘Animal Ontology’, ‘Animal Life’ and ‘Animal Ethics’. The book includes extended discussions of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Martha Nussbaum and Donna Haraway among others, as well as readings of contemporary literary texts by Angela Carter, JM Coetzee, Paul Auster and Jonathan Safran Foer. Ideas relating to these books are developed in various essays and articles, as well as in his guest edited special issues of the journals Deleuze Studies (‘Deleuze, Virginia Woolf and Modernism’; co-edited with Laci Mattison, 2013), Virginia Woolf Miscellany (‘Woolf and Materiality’, 2014) and Twentieth-Century Literature (‘Modernist Ethics and Posthumanism’; co-edited with Mark West, 2015).

His more recent publications build upon his interests in both modernism and literary animal studies. The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group (Bloomsbury, 2018), co-edited with Stephen Ross, contains 20 chapters showcasing contemporary scholarship on the set of influential writers, artists and thinkers whose members included Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, EM Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell and Duncan Grant. The volume brings together overview essays with detailed illustrative case studies covering topics such as feminism, sexuality, empire, philosophy, class, nature, politics and the arts. Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern (Routledge, 2019), co-edited with Karen Edwards and Jane Spencer, consists of 15 essays covering a range of questions concerning animals as they appear through literary history. The book covers a wide range of texts from medieval bestiaries and animals on the early modern stage to 18th-century lapdog poems and modern canine biographies, with chapters organised into five main sections: ‘Testing Metaphor’, ‘Plotting Agency’, ‘Inscribing Voice’, ‘Exploiting Bodies’ and ‘Loving Dogs’. Bringing together research that relates to both of these projects, he recently published an article in Modern Fiction Studies on Katherine Mansfield and a chapter of The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies on David Garnett and Franz Kafka. He is currently co-editing, with Linden Peach and Jane Goldman, Flush: A Biography for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf and writing his next monograph provisionally titled Bloomsbury, Beasts and British Modernism1910-1945.   

Supervision

Derek has supervised PhD projects on topics including modernist literature, the Anthropocene and speculative fiction. He would be keen to supervise doctoral research relating to any of his research interests.  

Professional

Since 2016, Derek has served on the Editorial Board of Woolf Studies Annual. In October 2017 he was appointed as the Literature Subject Editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism

He is a current or past member of the Modernist Studies Association, the British Association of Modernist Studies, the Société d'Etudes Modernistes, the International Virginia Woolf Society, the Société d’Etudes Woolfiennes, the American Comparative Literature Association and the Katherine Mansfield Society.

He has co-organised numerous conferences and events relating to his primary research interests. These include ‘Interceptions: Modernism’s Theory and Theory’s Modernism’ (Glasgow, 2010), ‘Contradictory Woolf: the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf’ (Glasgow, 2011), ‘Animal Humanities’ (Kent, 2015), ‘All Day Waves’ (Kent, 2015), ‘Cross-Channel Modernisms’ (Kent/Paris, 2015) and ‘Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf’ (Kent 2018). He is a founding member of the Kent Animal Humanities Network, which holds annual events for staff and students at the University.

He has acted as a reader for various publishers and journals, including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Routledge, Bloomsbury, Palgrave, Ohio State University Press, Review of English StudiesModernism/modernity,Twentieth-Century LiteratureLIT: Literature Interpretation TheoryMosaic, Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture and Studies in the Novel

His administrative experience at Kent includes the roles of Director of Graduate Studies for MA programmes (2016-18) and Research Seminar Organiser (2014-15), as well as membership of the Policy and Planning Group, School and Faculty Graduate Studies Committees, Faculty Paris Marketing Advisory Board and University Programme Approval and Curriculum Design Project Stakeholder Group.   

Publications

Article

  • Ryan, D. (2018). Katherine Mansfield’s Animal Aesthetics. Modern Fiction Studies [Online] 64:27-51. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1353/mfs.2018.0001.
  • Ryan, D. (2016). Virginia Woolf and Canterbury. Virginia Woolf Miscellany [Online]:31-34. Available at: https://virginiawoolfmiscellany.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/vwm89and90-edited-final.pdf.
  • Ryan, D. (2015). Following Snakes and Moths: Modernist Ethics and Posthumanism. Twentieth-Century Literature [Online] 61:287-304. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-3153955.
    This essay argues that a posthumanist ethics is at the heart of modernist aesthetics. Drawing connections between literary ethics and posthumanist theory, it reads D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Snake” and Virginia Woolf ’s essay “The Death of the Moth” as examples of nonanthropocentric ethical encounters between human and animal. In particular, the essay explores how the use of figurative language in these modernist texts opens up the imaginative possibilities of an anthropomorphism that paradoxically unsettles human-centered worldviews and instead seeks to more intimately engage with nonhuman life. In experimenting with a “nonanthropocentric anthropomorphism,” it is claimed that modernist ethics is founded on the attempt to respond to the demands, in both content and form, of “unrecognizable” creatures.
  • Ryan, D. (2015). Des animaux ordinaires ou étrangers? Territoires bovins entre Woolf et Deleuze (Outlandish or Ordinary Animals? Bovine Territories Between Woolf and Deleuze). Études britanniques contemporaines: Revue de la Société de l’Études Anglaises contemporaines.
    Les animaux modernistes de Virginia Woolf ont influencé la philosophie animale de Deleuze et Guattari, comme ils l’attestent dans Mille Plateaux. Cet article se concentre sur la signification qu’ont ces références à l’esthéthique de Woolf pour la philosophie deuleuzienne, tout en se demandant comment nous pouvons mieux comprendre l’exploration woolfienne de l’animalité (surtout dans Between the Acts) en nous engageant de près dans le cadre conceptual de Deleuze (en particulier le « devenir animal » et la « dé » ou « re »-« territorialisation »). En traçant les incidences diverses de cet animal des plus domestiques — la vache — dans le travail des deux écrivains, l’article construit un argument autour du térritoire bovine partagée dans leurs écrits et des implications ontologiques et éthiques de celui-ci. Ainsi, il pose les jalons d’un territoire nouveau pour les études woolfiennes dans les champs des études animales at la philosophie contemporaine
  • Ryan, D. (2014). To the Readers: Woolf and Materiality. Virginia Woolf Miscellany:1-2.
  • Ryan, D. (2013). “The Reality of Becoming”: Deleuze, Woolf and the Territory of Cows. Deleuze Studies [Online] 7:537-561. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/dls.2013.0128.
    Woolf's modernist animals affected Deleuze and Guattari's animal philosophy, as they describe in A Thousand Plateaus. This essay focuses on the significance of these references to Woolf's aesthetics for Deleuzian philosophy, whilst also considering how we can better understand Woolf's broader exploration of animality (in texts including The Waves, Flush and Between the Acts) through close engagement with Deleuze's conceptual framework (in particular ‘becoming-animal’ and ‘de-’ and ‘reterritorialisation’). In mapping various appearances of one of the oldest domesticated animals, cows, in the work of both, the essay builds an argument about the shared bovine territory in their writings and the ontological and ethical implications of this. It therefore expands upon the relationship between Deleuze and Woolf at the same time as affirming the importance of their animal ontology, ethics and aesthetics for animal studies more widely.
  • Ryan, D. and Mattison, L. (2013). Introduction: Deleuze, Virginia Woolf and Modernism. Deleuze Studies [Online] 7:421-426. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/dls.2013.0122.
  • Ryan, D. (2012). Woolf’s Queering of Granite. Virginia Woolf Miscellany [Online]:20-22. Available at: https://virginiawoolfmiscellany.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/vwm82fall2012.pdf.

Book

  • Ryan, D. (2019). Hayvan Kuramı: Eleştirel Bir Giriş. İletişim Yayınevi.
  • Ryan, D. (2015). Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction. [Online]. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Available at: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-animal-theory.html.
    From caged orangutans to roasted pig, from dog training to horse phobias, from communicating bees to ruminating cows, Derek Ryan explores how animals are encountered in theoretical discourse. Across four thematically organised chapters on ‘Animals as Humans’, ‘Animal Ontology’, ‘Animal Life’ and ‘Animal Ethics’ he offers extended discussions of Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Deleuze, Singer, Nussbaum, Adams and Haraway among others, as well as lively readings of contemporary literary texts by Carter, Coetzee, Auster and Foer. Intended as a resource for researchers, students, teachers and all those interested in human-animal relationships, Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction provides an accessible and authoritative account of the challenges and potential in thinking about and with animals.
  • Ryan, D. (2013). Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory: Sex, Animal, Life. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    Explores Woolf's writing alongside Deleuze's philosophy and new materialist theories of 'sex', 'animal', and 'life' How does Virginia Woolf conceptualise the material world? In what ways has Woolf's modernism affected understandings of materiality, and what new perspectives does she offer contemporary theoretical debates? Derek Ryan demonstrates how materiality is theorised in Woolf's writings by focusing on the connections she makes between culture and nature, embodiment and environment, human and nonhuman, life and matter. Through close readings of texts including To the Lighthouse, Orlando, A Room of One's Own, The Waves, Flush, and 'Sketch of the Past', he details the fresh insights Woolf provides into issues concerning the natural world, sexual difference, sexuality, animality, and life itself. Ryan opens up Woolf studies to new theoretical paradigms by placing Woolf in dialogue with Gilles Deleuze - who cites her modernist aesthetics as exemplary of some of his most important philosophical concepts - as well as eminent contemporary theorists including Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, and Jane Bennett, all of whom have influenced the recent critical turn towards new materialisms. Locating theory within Woolf's writing as well as locating Woolf within theory, Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory: Sex, Animal, Life brings her modernism firmly into to the foreground of current debates in literary studies, feminist philosophy, queer theory, animal studies and posthumanities.

Book section

  • Adkins, P. and Ryan, D. (2020). Introduction. In: Virginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace: Aesthetics and Theory Volume 2. Clemson University Press, pp. 1-10. Available at: https://libraries.clemson.edu/press/books/virginia-woolf-europe-and-peace-2/.
  • Ryan, D. (2019). ’Was it Flush, or was it Pan?’: Virginia Woolf, Ethel Smyth and Canine Biography. In: Spencer, J., Ryan, D. and Edwards, K. eds. Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern. Routledge.
  • Edwards, K., Ryan, D. and Spencer, J. (2019). Introduction. In: Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern. Routledge, pp. 1-10. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Reading-Literary-Animals-Medieval-to-Modern-1st-Edition/Edwards-Ryan-Spencer/p/book/9781138093850.
  • Claire, D., Goldman, J. and Ryan, D. (2019). Cross-Channel (Transmanche) Modernisms. In: Cross-Channel Modernisms. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-13. Available at: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-cross-channel-modernisms-hb.html.
  • Ryan, D. (2019). Interlude: Translating. In: Cross-Channel Modernisms. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 14-18.
  • Ryan, D. and Ross, S. (2018). Introduction. In: Ryan, D. and Ross, S. eds. The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Ryan, D. (2018). Literature. In: Turner, L., Broglio, R. and Sellbach, U. eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Ryan, D. (2016). Orlando’s Queer Animals. In: Berman, J. ed. A Companion to Virginia Woolf. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 109-121.
  • Ryan, D. (2014). Posthumanist Interludes: Ecology and Ethology in The Waves. In: Dubino, J., Lowe, G., Neverow, V. and Simpson, K. eds. Virginia Woolf: Twenty-First-Century Approaches. Edinburgh University Press. Available at: http://www.euppublishing.com/book/9780748693931.
  • Ryan, D. (2014). Entangled in Nature: Deleuze’s Modernism, Woolf’s Philosophy, and Spinoza’s Ethology. In: Ardoin, P., Gontarski, S. E. and Mattison, L. eds. Understanding Deleuze, Understanding Modernism. Bloomsbury Academic. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/understanding-deleuze-understanding-modernism-9781623563493/.
  • Ryan, D. (2014). “The lawn was the world”: Uprooting Trees and Becoming Grass in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. In: Davison-Pégon, C. and Smith-Di Biasio, A.-M. eds. Contemporary Woolf / Woolf Contemporaine. Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée. Available at: http://www.pulm.fr/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/587/s/contemporary-woolf-woolf-contemporaine/category/96/.
  • Ryan, D. (2013). Woolf and Contemporary Philosophy. In: Randall, B. and Goldman, J. eds. Virginia Woolf in Context. Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/literature/english-literature-1900-1945/virginia-woolf-context.
  • Ryan, D. (2012). From Spaniel Club to Animalous Society: Virginia Woolf’s Flush. In: Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. eds. Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the Twenty-First Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson University Press. Available at: http://www.clemson.edu/cedp/press/pubs/vwcon/21.html.
  • Ryan, D. (2011). “Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us”: Digging Granite and Chasing Rainbows with Virginia Woolf. In: Virginia Woolf and the Natural World: Selected Papers from the Twentieth Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson University Press. Available at: http://www.clemson.edu/cedp/press/pubs/vwcon/20.html.

Edited book

  • Ryan, D. (2020). Cross-Channel Modernisms. Davison, C., Ryan, D. and Goldman, J. eds. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Adkins, P. and Ryan, D. eds. (2020). Virginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace. Volume 2: Aesthetics and Theory. [Online]. Clemson University Press. Available at: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/id/52686/.
  • Ryan, D. (2019). Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern. [Online]. Edwards, K., Ryan, D. and Spencer, J. eds. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Reading-Literary-Animals-Medieval-to-Modern-1st-Edition/Edwards-Ryan-Spencer/p/book/9781138093850.
  • Ryan, D. (2018). The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group. Ryan, D. and Ross, S. eds. London: Bloomsbury.
    The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group is the most comprehensive available survey of contemporary scholarship on the Bloomsbury Group – the set of influential writers, artists and thinkers whose members included Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, Duncan Grant and David Garnett. With chapters written by world leading scholars in the field, the book explores novel avenues of thinking about these pivotal figures and their works opened up by the new modernist studies. It brings together overview essays with detailed illustrative case studies, and covers topics as diverse as feminism, sexuality, empire, philosophy, class, nature and the arts. Setting the agenda for future study of Bloomsbury, this is an essential resource for scholars of 20th-century modernist culture.
  • Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. (2012). Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the Twenty-First Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference. Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. eds. Clemson SC: Clemson University Digital Press.

Edited journal

  • Special Issue: Modernist Ethics and Posthumanism (2015). Twentieth-Century Literature 61.
  • Ryan, D. ed. (2014). Woolf and Materiality: Special Issue. Virginia Woolf Miscellany.
  • Ryan, D. and Mattison, L. eds. (2013). Special Issue: Deleuze, Virginia Woolf and Modernism. Deleuze Studies [Online] 7. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/dls.2013.0122.

Review

  • Ryan, D. (2019). Review Essay: Katherine Mansfield’s Many Forms. Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth von Arnim:195-204.
  • Ryan, D. (2019). Review of Sentencing Orlando: Virginia Woolf and the Morphology of the Modernist Sentence (2018), by Elsa Högberg and Amy Bromley. Woolf Studies Annual:178-181.
  • Ryan, D. (2012). Review of Eugene Thacker (2010), After Life, University of Chicago Press. Deleuze Studies 6:495-503.

Forthcoming

  • Ryan, D. and Peach, L. (2020). Flush: A Biography. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf.
  • Adkins, P., Clemens, R. and Ryan, D. eds. (2019). Reading Braidotti/Reading Woolf. Comparative Critical Studies.
  • Adkins, P. and Ryan, D. eds. (2018). Virginia Woolf, Peace and Europe Volume 2: Aesthetics and Theory. Clemson University Press.
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