Gavin Cologne-Brookes

Gavin Cologne-Brookes


Personal statement

Awarded the honorary title of Professor of American Literature in 2007, between 2013 and 2015 I was Director of the Contemporary Writing Research Centre, co-ordinating research seminars designed to bring staff involved in research in contemporary writing together across disciplines. I am currently Programme Leader for the MA in Creative Writing.

My recent research activity includes Rereading William Styron (LSU Press 2014), a travel memoir, 'Rome to Ravello with Set This House on Fire,' for the Sewanee Review, conference papers on Styron, Dostoevsky, The Sopranos and Bruce Springsteen, and lectures in Istanbul, Alicante, Tarragona, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Montevideo. My current LSU Press project is American Lonesome: Bruce Springsteen's Passionate Pragmatism. In 2016 I consolidated Erasmus links in Madrid and Lisbon, delivered a paper at the European for American Studies Conference in Constanta, Romania, and between May and June travelled to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and the United States on a Santander Pioneer Award. In 2017 I am visiting Kenya with teachers from the Royal High School, Bath, to teach at The Crane Academy in Kitale, and will give talks at Moi University, Eldoret, and Kenyatta University, Nairobi.

Also a painter, works of mine are in collections in Rochester, NY, the National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, and the Corsham Court campus of BSU. From 19 March to 18 April 2011 Corsham Court held an exhibition, 'Paintings 1995-2011.' This included a portrait which features on the cover of Rereading William Styron. My portrait of Joyce Carol Oates will appear in Cahier de L'Herne: Joyce Carol Oates (Paris, 2017).

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in American Studies, University of Nottingham, 1989.
  • MA in English and Creative Writing, State University of New York, College at Brockport, 1985.
  • BA Joint Hons First Class in English and History, Loughborough University, 1984.

Professional qualifications

  • PhD in American Studies, University of Nottingham, 1989.
  • MA in English and Creative Writing, State University of New York, Brockport, 1985.
  • BA Joint Hons First Class in English and History, Loughborough University, 1984.

Professional memberships

  • Member of The British Association for American Studies, the Modern Languages Association and Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor Society of America.
  • The Association of American University Presses included Dark Eyes on America: The Novels of Joyce Carol Oates in the list of books selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries 2006.
  • Presentations at Association Conferences since 2003 have included the American Popular Culture Association (2004), the American Literature Association (2006 and 2008), and the British Association for American Studies (2013).

Bath Spa Employment

1992-2007 Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Studies.

2007- Professor of American Literature.

2016- Reader in English and Creative Studies.

Other external roles


  • Editorial Board of Overhere: Reviews in American Studies, 1987-89.
  • Guest Editor for Studies in the Novel Special Issue on Joyce Carol Oates, 2006.
  • Editorial Board for online Journal dedicated to the writing of Joyce Carol Oates.


  • Annual speaker at the Steinbeck Festival, National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, 2011-13.
  • Consulted by Rosemary Bird of Blackwell Publishing with regard to book proposals on American Writing, 2006-7.
  • Consulted by Gary Stevens of the World Book Club for the BBC World Service about questions to put to Joyce Carol Oates for an interview with her, Friday 20 May 2005 www.bbc.co.uk.
  • Invited to write the Introduction and commentary for the Homepage Gallery of American painter, Richard Ewen, and his Irish and Spanish Collection 1950-54.
  • Interviewed by Carmel Howard for Australia's Radio National "Encounters" series documentary on Joyce Carol Oates, aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in February 2005. 

Teaching specialism

  • C19th, C20th, and C21st American writing.
  • American pragmatism.
  • The C19th and C20th-C21st European Novel.
  • Writing and Place.
  • Modernism and Postmodernism.
  • Prose Fiction.
  • Memoir.

Current scholarship

American Lonesome: Bruce Springsteen's Passionate Prsgmatism.

Critical responses to The Novels of William Styron:

  • "This is quite simply the best sustained treatment of Styron's fiction I have read" - Melvin J. Friedman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • "This book creates a new Styron, a raider on the (in)articulate, a complex 'double' of Stevens and James and those American writers who dare to render the failure of language (or the language of failure)" - Irving Malin, City College of New York
  • William Styron himself wrote: "I'm most impressed with your wisdom and perspicacity, also the excellence of your writing. You know more about me than I'll ever know. What affects me so favorably is your absence of jargon and pseudo-theorizing. I don't mean that you don't have a tenable theory--I think the idea of harmony and history fascinating--but you wear scholarly theory lightly and with grace, and I'm proud to have been the subject of your scrutiny."

Critical responses to Dark Eyes on America:

  • "An important contribution to our critical understanding and appreciation of a major American novelist of our time. Gavin Cologne-Brookes is thorough, detailed and persuasive in his close study of Ms. Oates's novels, giving full credit to the work that has been done before him, while adding depth and dimension in his established connections of American philosophical traditions and the on-going, ever-changing literary scene. This is a fine piece of work and a valuable addition to the canon of American critical discourse" - Reader's Report
  • "A skillful and passionate discovery of the prodigious Joyce Carol Oates's evolution, over four decades, into our most important living writer. Within the inevitable proliferation of Oates scholarship, this study will always serve as compass and divining rod" - William Heyen, SUNY Brockport
  • "A thoughtful and essential book on Oates, on fiction, and on contemporary America" - James L. W. West III, Pennsylvania State University
  • "A major work not only in the scholarship on Oates but also in the application of pragmatist theory to literary analysis. Moreover, its wit and readability make it suitable for students who want to see a model of pragmatist criticism." -- Darryl Hattenhauer, Arizona State
  • Joyce Carol Oates herself wrote: "Beautifully designed and beautifully written. . . . Of the criticism of my work I've seen, this is very likely the most impressive: intelligently and engagingly written, leaping forward and back in time with dazzling skill, linking themes, recurring images etc., and drawing upon the worksheets and notes in the Syracuse collection with the sharp eye of a forensics investigator! I hope this brilliant book is adequately appreciated."

Critical responses to Rereading William Styron:

  • "As a memoir, travelogue and meditation on creative and critical processes, it is full of insight. . . a fascinating exploration of the bond between the writer an the critic, and the difficulties and delights of getting 'caught up in the tangle of reality and fiction'." -- Rona Cran, Times Literary Supplement
  • "With Rereading William Styron, Cologne-Brookes has achieved what would seem almost impossible. He couples solid, incisive literary criticism with insightful personal recollections of his encounters with the author. A must-read for fans and scholars of William Styron." -- Michael Mewshaw, author of Do I Owe You Something? A Memoir of the Literary Life
  • "Cologne-Brookes's beautifully written, perceptive and compassionate rereading of Styron's work rests upon his penetrating analysis of the novels and essays, their interconnections, and his own conversations with Styron. . . This is essential reading for all Styron's admirers and critics, culminating in Cologne-brookes's own journey back in time to Auschwitz and Tidewater Virginia." -- Samuel Coale, author of Quirks of the Quantum: Postmodernism and Contemporary American Fiction
  • "Rereading William Styron is both a personal memoir and an astute reevaluation of Styron--the man and artist--offering a fresh perspective on Styron's fiction and nonfiction, informed by Cologne-Brookes's friendship with Styron and his own journeys to places that dominate Styron's work. . . Cologne-Brookes argues persuasively for Styron's unique position as an American man of letters, influenced by European writers like Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Camus as much as by his fellow southerner--William Faulkner." -- Rhoda Sirlin, Queens College, City University of New York.

External examiners

  • University of Central Lancashire Periodic Review of English Literature, American Literature, Creative Writing, English Language, TESOL, and Combined Awards, Preston.
  • PhD External Examiner, University of Aix-en-Provence, France.
  • PhD Examiner, Kanpur Institute of Technology, India.

Recent professional updating

  • Workshop on the use of journals as a form of assessment, Oxford Brookes University, 13 January, 2004.
  • Workshop on website design, BSU, spring 2007.
  • Workshop on Entrepreneurship, BSU, spring 2008.
  • Workshop on HEA Fellowship, spring 2017.

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

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