Daniel Aureliano Newman

Degrees: PhD, MA, MSc (University of Toronto); BA (Concordia); BSc (Trent)

Current position:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Department of English, McGill University (2016-2017)

Past employment:

Past affiliations:

Research interests: Modern & contemporary fiction; literature & science; narrative theory; unnatural narratology; genre; experimental nonfiction; adaptation theory; genetics & Darwinism; science outreach.

Teaching interests: Modern & contemporary literature; modernism; narrative; poetry and poetics; British literature, 1700-present; Irish literature; creative writing; science & literature.

My research focuses primarily on how scientific discoveries and theories are exploited by literary writers seeking to produce unconventional or even new narrative structures and stylistic effects. Given my training in biology, my studies focus primarily on the life sciences (evolution, genetics, embryology, ecology), but I’m also interested in literary engagements with statistics and quantum mechanics. As a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, I am working on a new book of essays that link narratological and poetic devices (for example, unreliability, second-person narration, disnarration, and trochaic inversions) to specific worldviews and their scientific correlatives. I am also working on a new project on experimental narrative techniques in nonfiction both literary and “non-literary” (journalism, science, history, etc). I have been a co-organizer of the Modernist Reading & Research Group (MRRG) at the University of Toronto.

Authors whose works I study include E. M. Forster, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Edna O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie, David Lodge, Margaret Drabble, Ali Smith and Zadie Smith. I have recently become very interested in the mid-century British experimentalists (Ann Quin and B. S. Johnson in particular).

Before studying literature, I did graduate research in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on the relationship between plants and bumble bees that rob their nectar without providing any pollination service. I’m convinced that working with such a highly variable, context-dependent ecological system has informed how I read fiction, particularly modernist fiction.

Students often ask me about my favourite authors. It’s a long list, but  View now  in addition to names listed above, it includes Nicholson Baker, Flann O’Brien, Raymond Queneau,  Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, and W. H. Yeats. Books  that have particularly impressed me recently include Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Emmanuel Carrère’s L’adversaire, Rachel Cusk’s Outline, Rana Dasgupta’s Solo, B. S. Johnson’s Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry, Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, Edna O’Brien’s Mother Ireland, Ann Quin’s Berg, and David Szalay’s All that Man Is.

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