Aran Ward Sell

Thesis title: Damaged consciousness in the post-crash Irish modernist novel


MSc Literature and Modernity, University of Edinburgh

MA (Hons) English Language and Literature, University of Edinburgh

Research summary

Modernism, contemporary modernism, Ireland, Irish Studies, 21st Century Literature, the novel, narratology, Marxist literary criticism, Fantasy, Weird and sci-fi literature.

Current research interests

My current thesis examines contemporary Irish modernist novels, including the work of Eimear McBride, Kevin Barry, Anakana Schofield and Mike McCormack, with regard to their representations of damaged or a-normative consciousnesses, and the modernist aesthetics with which these consciousnesses are represented. This situates their work within the context of a resurgence of modernist styles in Irish writing since the end of the Celtic Tiger and the 2008-9 financial crisis.

Past research interests

I am also interested in contemporary modernisms outside the Irish context, including the work of Jon McGregor and Will Self. I also maintain an interest in fantasy and sci-fi literature, and the aesthetic politics of 'weird' speculative writers such as Mervyn Peake and Jeff VanderMeer.

Knowledge exchange

I discuss my experience as a PhD researcher on my YouTube channel: I previously maintained the Postgraduate Online Research Training website for the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. I am currently redeveloping the website for the University of Edinburgh's internal audit department, as part of a PhD internship.

Current project grants

Wolfson Foundation PhD Scholarship

Past project grants

AHRC PhD Scholarship
Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship

[forthcoming] 'Half-Formed Modernism: Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing' - The Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, 2019.

'The Politics of 21st-century Modernism in Malarky and Martin John by Anakana Schofield' - C21 Literature: journal of 21st-century writings. Vol.6, No.2 (2018), p.1. DOI:

'The War on Terro[i]r: Biology as (unstable) geography in Jeff VanderMeer's 'Southern Reach' trilogy' - Antae, Vol.5, No.1 (Feb, 2018). p86-100.


'A Third Way: Beatlebone and Metamodernism' - 'Innovation and Experiment in Contemporary Irish Literature' conference, KU Leuven, Nov-Dec 2018.

'Half-Formed Modernism: Eimear McBride and the post-crash resurgence of Irish literary modernism' - 'New Work in Modernist Studies' conference, British Association of Modernist Studies, University of Leeds, December 2017.

'The War on Terro[i]r: Biology as (unstable) geography in Jeff VanderMeer's 'Southern Reach' trilogy' - 'Placing, Spacing, Displacing' conference, The University of Malta, April 2017.