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Dr Elizabeth Barry

Barry main

Associate Professor (Reader)

Email: e dot c dot barry at warwick dot ac dot uk

Humanities Building
University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


Dr Elizabeth Barry is Associate Professor (Reader), and teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program.

See my virtual office door (above) for current 2020 mood (whenever I get round to updating it).

Research interests

Research interests include medical humanities, especially in relation to ageing and end of life, psychology and psychopathology. I have written a lot about Samuel Beckett in relation to these areas and others, and have also published on modern British theatre, and on the cultural history of celebrity.

Most of my recent publications are in the field of literary age studies. I edited the 2020 volume of the English Association Essays and Studies series, Literature and Ageing (Boydell and Brewer). I have also written on ageing in The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature, Textual Practice, European Journal of English Studies, and Samuel Beckett Today/ Aujourd'hui, as well as several edited collections and companions. In earlier days, I wrote a monograph on Samuel Beckett and the uses of cliché, and published articles and book chapters on Beckett in relation to translation, psychoanalysis, mental disorder, and medicine. I have held two Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grants investigating medicine and modernism, and edited special issues of Journal of Beckett Studies (Beckett, Language and the Mind), International Journal of Cultural Studies (cultural history of celebrity) and (with Ulrika Maude and Laura Salisbury) Journal of Medical Humanities.

I currently have two book projects: a monograph under contract with Bloomsbury (for 2023) on ageing in modern literature and thought, and a planned textbook on literature and the lifecourse. I am also starting a new research project on laughter in communication, culture and health.

I currently hold a grant from the Norwegian Funding Council (SAMKUL) as part of my work as an international partner on the project Historicizing the Ageing Self, based at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Teaching and supervision

Research supervision: I would welcome research projects in the fields of medical humanities, modern theatre, modernist style/stylistics, and on literature (particularly modern literature) and ageing, psychology, psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience.

I have currently have two PhD students:

  • Beth Greaves, a recipient of the Wolfson Scholarship to work on the history and representation of Munchausen By Proxy syndrome in contemporary fiction.
  • Yaqian Xu, recipient of a China Scholarship Council award to work on the ageing body in contemporary North American fiction and society.

I have supervised the following PhD projects:

  • Rina Kim (Women and Ireland as Beckett's Lost Others) -- completed March 2007; published as a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan
  • Madolyn Nichols (Emigration in Irish Women's Writing 1900-1940) -- completed March 2014
  • Catherine Charlwood, Fulbright Scholar and recipient of AHRC PhD funding (Cognitive and Cultural Memory in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost) -- completed January 2017
  • Robert Starr (Irish Soldier-Writers of the First World War) -- completed September 2017; published as a monograph (Irish Literary Responses to the Great War) with Ibidem-Verlag (2020).
  • Madeleine Scherer, recipient of full PhD funding from the German National Academic Foundation (The Uses of the classical Underworld in Postcolonial Literature) -- completed December 2018; under contract as a monograph with De Gruyter.
  • Freya Verlander, recipient of a Centre of Arts Doctoral Research Excellence Scholarship (fees and maintenance at UKRI rate) ((Skin)Aesthetics: A Study of Skin(s) in Spectatorship) -- completed March 2020; under contract as a monograph with Bloomsbury Drama.

MA teaching: I set up and convened the MA module Outcast Ireland: Institutions and the Making of Irish Society 1801-2000 (not currently running) with Professor Maria Luddy from the Department of History.

I set up, convene and teach an interdisciplinary Masters-level module on The Medical Mind in Literature and Culture, through Warwick's Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL), also delivered as a MBChB student-selected module for the Warwick Medical School.

I set up and convene an MA module, Literature and the Life Course: From Infancy to Old Age (not running 2021-22 but due to run 2022-23)

I also teach on the Drama and Performance Theory module on the MA in English and Drama.

Undergraduate teaching: I have convened the first year module British Theatre since 1939, and currently convene the Honours core theory module Literature, Theory and Time. I also teach and lecture on the module European Theatre, and lecture on Modern World Literatures and Modes of Reading.

Selected publications

  • Beckett and Authority: The Uses of Cliche (Palgrave Macmillan: 2006)
  • Ed., The Cultural History of Celebrity, special issue of International Journal of Cultural Studies, October 2008
  • Ed., Beckett, Language and the Mind, special issue of Journal of Beckett Studies, Dec 2008
  • 'The ageing body', The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature, November 2015
  • Ed., Beckett, Medicine and the Brain, special issue of Journal of Medical Humanities, March 2016
  • 'Putting It Down to Experience: Ageing and the Subject in Sartre, Munro and Coetzee', European Journal of English Studies, February 2018
  • 'The Moment of Truth: Proust, Barthes and the Contingency of Old Age', Textual Practice, March 2018
  • Literature and Ageing, the 2020 Essays and Studies volume for the English Association

Professional service

External examiner for post-1900 English programme, University of Nottingham, and the MSc in Medical Humanities, Kings College, London.

Expert Panel for the Wellcome Trust

Peer reviewer for Wellcome Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Universities of Ireland (NUI); Oxford University Press, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan; Journal of Beckett Studies, French Studies, Contemporary Theatre Review, Performing Ethos.

External PhD examiner at Andra University, India (2006), University of Dundee (2013), University of Ulster (2015), McGill University, Canada (2015), University of Reading (2016), Birkbeck College, University of London (2019), University of Sheffield (2022).

Office hours 2021-22

Tuesday 3-5pm (in person); Thursday 9-10am online.

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