|Professor in the Department of English Studies||Room A69, Elvet Riverside 1||+44 (0) 191 33 42569|
|Associate Director in the Centre for Culture and Ecology|
I work on modern and contemporary literature with a current focus on how affect, literary style and ecological thinking interact. I’m also interested in the history of psychoanalysis, in the discursive life of negative affects such as anxiety and shame, and in theories of the gendered subject. I’d welcome enquiries from potential research students in any of these research areas, or in the fields of transnational modernism and modern Irish literature.
My first book W.B. Yeats and World Literature: the Subject of Poetry (2015) considered Yeats’s role in the development of an international literary marketplace and a translational English literature in the early twentieth century, and his key collaborations with figures including Rabindranath Tagore, Shri Purohit Swãmi and Ezra Pound. You can read more detailed reviews of this work here and here.
My next monograph ‘Meteorological Modernism’ is similarly invested in the reconfiguration of disciplinary space. It associates the modernist investments in alternative futures, simultaneity and the single day as a unit of narrative art, with the development of scientific meteorology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Specifically, it argues that modernist literature does more than record past modes of environmental knowledge, but also formalises an archival and anticipatory self-consciousness with regard to the registration of the natural world, combining anxious embodiment with questions of literary technique.
I have co-edited and introduced two essay collections Narcissism, Melancholia and the Subject of Community (2017) and Shame and Modern Writing (2018), as well as a special issue of Textual Practice on The Contemporary Problem of Style (2022).
I publish my research in journals including New Literary History, Textual Practice and Modernism/modernity, and in various edited collections on topics such as fanaticism and modern poetry; affect in Irish literature; the historical association of hysteria with style; ekphrasis and ecology; queer elegy; literary laughing; and blushing.
I’m planning further work on weather writing and well-being, as well as on autofiction, seduction and conviviality in modern literature. One day, I hope to write interestingly on the topic of self-respect.
I’ve been in Durham since 2016. Before that I was an Irish Research Council Fellow at University College Dublin, having previously held an Early Career Fellowship with the Institute of Advance Study at Warwick University. I also lectured at Swansea University. I received my Doctorate from Warwick, and my BA from Trinity College, Dublin.
In Durham English, I have been the Chair of the UG Board of Examiners since 2019.
I have convened the following modules:
Post-war Fiction and Poetry [Final-year lecture module] (ENGL 3591)
W.B. Yeats [special topic] (ENGL 3201)
Literary Psychoanalysis [special topic] [ENGL3831]
Shame and Modern Writing [MA] (ENGL 44530).
I currently sit on the Board of the International Yeats Society.
I am Associate Director of the Centre for Culture and Ecology
- Critical and Cultural theory
- Irish modernism and contemporary Irish fiction
- Modernist ecologies
- Shame and Affect
- Transnational poetics and theories of 'world' literature
- W.B. Yeats
- 2000: Keynote Address: English n'existe pas: towards a modernist genealogy of world literature', Swedish National Forum for English Studies Conference, April 2017
- Sheils, B. (2015). W.B. Yeats and World Literature: the subject of poetry. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315547824
- Sheils, B. (2016). Howes, Marjorie and Joseph Valente (eds.), Yeats and Afterwords; and Lucy McDiarmid, The Literary History of a Meal: Poets and the Peacock Dinner. Irish University Review, 46(2), 378-382. https://doi.org/10.3366/iur.2016.0234
- Sheils, B. (2016). Father of the Artist: a review of Mike McCormack's Solar Bones
- Sheils, B. (2013). Saddlemeyer, Ann (ed.), W.B. Yeats & George Yeats: The Letters, in English 62. 236: 91-93. English, 62(236), 91-93
- Sheils, B. (2010). Bridgham, Fred (ed.), The First World War as a Clash of Cultures
Chapter in book
- Sheils, B. (2023). Electric Signs and Echo Chambers: the Stupidity of Affect in Modern Irish Literature. In M. Kelleher, & J. O'Sullivan (Eds.), Technology in Irish Literature and Culture (83-98). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009182881.007
- Sheils, B. (2022). Translation at the Abbey Theatre in 1913: the World Premier of Rabindranath Tagore’s The Post Office. In A. Ghosh, & E. Redwine (Eds.), Tagore and Yeats: A Postcolonial Re-envisioning (40-60). Brill Academic Publishers
- Sheils, B. (2022). Laughter Before the Law: Censorship, Caricature and Hunger strike in Modern Irish Literature and Art. In A. Hanna, & E. McNulty (Eds.), Law and Literature: the Irish Case (59-77). Liverpool University Press
- Sheils, B. (2021). Irish Skin: the Epidermiology of Modernism. In P. Fagan, J. Greaney, & T. Radak (Eds.), Irish Modernisms: Gaps, Conjectures, Possibilities (87-102). Bloomsbury
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (2020). Institutions and Elegies: viewing the dead in W.B. Yeats and John Wieners. In W. Wang, D. Jerrigan, & N. Murphy (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature (190-206). Routledge
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (2018). Introduction: Shame and Modern Writing. In B. Sheils, & J. Walsh (Eds.), Shame and modern writing (1-33). Routledge
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (2017). Introduction: Narcissism, Melancholia and the Subject of Community. In B. Sheils, & J. Walsh (Eds.), Narcissism, melancholia and the subject of community (1-40). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63829-4_1
- Sheils, B. (2015). Caring to Know: Narrative Technique and the Art of Public Nursing in The Good Soldier. In S. Haslam, & M. Saunders (Eds.), Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier : centenary essays (164-182). Brill Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004299177_012
- Sheils, B. (2015). The Ship and the Gun: The Perversity of Neo-Victorian Belfast in Glenn Patterson’s The Mill for Grinding Old People Young. In M. Kohlke, & C. Gutleben (Eds.), Neo-Victorian Cities: Reassessing Urban Politics and Poetics (307-330). Brill Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004292338_013
- Sheils, B. (2014). “With a Schwärmerei that barely escaped self-parody": the cinema of language in Tom MacIntyre’s short stories. In C. Ryan (Ed.), Writing from the Margins The Aesthetics of Disruption in the Irish Short Story (115-128). Cambridge Scholars Publishing
- Sheils, B. (2010). From Dignity to Beauty: Aesthetics, Revolution and the Problem of Reception in “Easter 1916”. In K. Jenčová, M. Marková, M. Markus, & H. Pavelková (Eds.), The Politics of Irish Writing (89-99). Centre for Irish Studies, Charles University
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (Eds.). (2018). Shame and Modern Writing. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315158754
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (Eds.). (2017). Narcissism, Melancholia and the Subject of Community. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63829-4
- Sheils, B. (in press). Clickbait Modernism. Textual Practice, https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2023.2287357
- Sheils, B. (in press). The Meteorological Device: the daily weather forecast, literary modernism and the productions of anxiety. Modernism/modernity,
- Robinson, R., & Sheils, B. (2022). Introduction: The Contemporary Problem of Style. Textual Practice, 36(4), 473-500. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236x.2022.2030510
- Sheils, B. (2022). Style Interminable: the autofictional object of the Humanities in works by Brigid Brophy and Ben Lerner. Textual Practice, 36(4), 518-541. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236x.2022.2055284
- Robinson, R., & Sheils, B. (2016). The Violation of Style: Englishness in Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels. Textual Practice, 30(4), 735-756. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236x.2015.1059030
- Sheils, B. (2014). Mr Yeats’s Treacherous Instinct of Adaptability: Subjectivity, Culture, and Theatrical Space
- Sheils, B. (2014). Poetry in the Modern State: the example of W.B. Yeats's 'Late Style' and 'New Fanaticism'. New Literary History, 45(3), 483-505. https://doi.org/10.1353/nlh.2014.0022
- Sheils, B. (2012). ‘‘Dark Cognition”: W.B. Yeats, J.G. Herder and the Imperfection of Tradition Irish Studies Review 20.1. Irish Studies Review, 20(1), 299-321
- Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (2012). Tragedy and Transference in D.M. Thomas’s The White Hotel. Psychoanalysis and History, 15(1), 69-89
Other (Digital/Visual Media)
- Sheils, B. (in press). How World War I changed the weather for good. [[Media unknown]]
- Sheils, B. (2016). Decoy Paris. [[Media unknown]]
- Sheils, B. (2016). Wartime Attachments: essays on pain, care, retreat and treatment in the period of the First World War (electronic resource). [[Media unknown]]
- Sheils, B. (2015). Wilhelm Meister & Me
- Goodby, J., Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (2014). The Poetics of Embarrassment: an Interview with the poet John Goodby