Rachel Bryan, Jesus

Degree: PhD
Course: 1830-PD
Supervisor: Dr T Follini
Dissertation Title:

'The life one has not chosen to live': Optative Prose and Unlived Lives from Henry James to Kazuo Ishiguro.

Biographical Information

I read English at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating with Class I with Distinction in 2014. My Part II dissertation on limited vision and first person narration in Henry James’s short fiction won the 2014 Gillian and John Beer Prize. I returned to Jesus in Michaelmas 2014 to study the MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature, and wrote a thesis on Henry James, Pragmatism and 'the last word'. Now an AHRC-funded PhD student, my research looks at the concept of 'unlived lives' across fiction of the twentieth century, with special focus on the writings of Henry James, Elizabeth Bowen and Kazuo Ishiguro. In early 2017, I spent a month studying at Harvard University as part of the Faculty of English's Cambridge-Harvard Graduate Exchange Programme.

Outside of supervising for the Cambridge Tripos, I have also taught for the Literature Summer Programme run by the University of Cambridge's Insitute of Continuing Education (ICE). 

Research Interests

I am currently interested in writers who see unrealised potential as a particular constituent of modern consciousness, and in the formal innovations that such an artistic vision solicits. My broader research interests encompass nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first British and American literature, especially memory and modern narrative; women's writing of the inter-war period; narrative and self-actualisation; mourning in modernity; fiction and the First World War; Henry James and his influence; Elizabeth Bowen; literature and the law; Rebecca West; transgenerational trauma; Kazuo Ishiguro.   

Areas of Supervision

Practical Criticism; Literature from 1830-present; Modernism and the Short Story; Tragedy.

I have supervised dissertations on Henry James and Eudora Welty, and would welcome students wishing to work on topics relating to Henry James, Elizabeth Bowen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Rebecca West, or to any of my broader research interests.

Selected Publications


'The Return of the "Spiritual Soldier": Rebecca West's Henry James', Henry James Review, 39, 3 (Forthcoming Fall 2018).

'"[I]t's a splendid style, but it's a dangerous style": Henry James and Elizabeth Bowen', in Reading Henry James in the 21st Century: Heritage and Transmission (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming 2018)

Conference Papers

'Rebecca West's The Return of the Soldier', paper presented at The Fictional First World War: Imagination and Memory Since 1914, (International Conference at The Centre for the Novel, University of Aberdeen, 6-9 April 2017)