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updated June 12, 2014.

Nicholas Birns's CV

I will be in Australia from, June-July 2014. giving a plenary address at the 100th anniversary of World War One conference, held in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 14, 2014. I will be organizing and giving a paper at the MLA in Vancouver, January 2015. I will be speaking at the Trollope bicenentary conference in Belgium, September 2015.



See the academic blog of Nicholas Birns


The Twitter feed is the raw material of every official announcement or observation made; the blog is for expanded reflections and some reviews of texts and performances.

What is your mailing address?

205 East Tenth St. New York, NY 10003 What is your methodology?

My methodology has been described as 'postcolonial eclecticism'. Though not covering everything--I have strong interests in Christianity, the Middle Ages, etc.--this tag does reflect that I have an unusually strong footing in postcolonial areas due to my Australian interests, combined with the fact that I work in many areas and contexts. There is, though, an underlying unity to the multiple strands of my work and this will become more apparent as time proceeds.

Why are you, a non-Australian, interested in Australian literature?”

The answer can be found in or this profile by Jo Lennan

You used to be Editor of Powys Notes . Does the journal still exist?

The journal ended in 2002 when I could not find anyone to take over as Editor. the last issue was published that year; the last conference of the organization was held in 2001--at the World Trade Center, five months before the attacks. Those interested in John Cowper Powys should look at my article on Porius published in 2010 and also at the Powys Society website. I gave a lecture on Powys at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, Hillsdale, NY on September 22, 2012.

Is your Theory book primarily a textbook?

It can certainly be used as a textbook, and anecdotes and royalty statements indicate it is so being used, and I am glad of it. But it is a work of intellectual history that can benefit those on a higher level not simply seeking to use it as a text.

Are you related to the other people named 'Birns' that show up on the Internet?

Probably, in some cases distantly, in some cases less so. My father, Larry Birns, is the Director of the Council of Hemispheric Affairs while my mother, Margaret Boe Birns, is a well-known lecturer on literature in the NY area as well as a painter.

Are you a specialist in Australian literature?

I did my dissertation on American literature, heavily influenced by various theoretical perspectives. Concurrently, I worked on some Australian writers and eventually accepted a position with ,i> Antipodes ,/i>. Australian literature is a significant area for me, but I would not say it is my speciality; most of my current teaching is in the modern novel and in theory, and is equally divided between British and American. The focus of most of my recent scholarship has been in theory and criticism. I continued to take a strong role in Australian studies, though, and my interest in such an apparently "peripheral" area does, I think, say a lot about me and my values as an academic, as well as my high esteem for Australian writers and texts. We are back to the issue of eclectic postcolonialism here.

What is your ethnic background?

1/4 (Russian-Ukrainian) Jewish, 1/4 (Polish) Jewish, 3/16 German, 1/16 French, 1/8 Norwegian, 1/16 Scottish, 1/32 Scotch-Irish (Ulster Protestant) 1/32 English.....

What is your national identificat



What is your religion?


Where did you do your undergraduate work?

The answer: I matriculated at Wesleyan University but transferred from there to Columbia University (Columbia College). I got my baccalaureate degree from Columbia, but I identify as an alumnus of both institutions

Why did you leave Wesleyan?

I transferred to Columbia for family reasons, but very much valued my time at Wesleyan. Much of the reading I did at the Olin library has found its way into my books, particularly Theory After Theory ,/i> (Broadview, 2010). I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Professor David Titus who was very kind to me. My brother Daniel graduated from Wesleyan in 2002 and I was back on campus for the ceremony. Andrew Meier, who I believe is class of 1985, was my colleague at Eugene Lang College, the New School.

Can you help with international collaborations between the New School and universities worldwide?

See above answer with respect to hiring at the New School; one is best advised to approach the relevant program chair directly

What are approved equivalents of Commitment' <.A> in other languages?