Concordia University

Cynthia Quarrie, PhD

Assistant Professor (Limited Term Appointment), English
Academic Advisor, English


My research is focused on contemporary literature, and in particular on the novels of British and Irish writers such as Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, and John Banville. My dissertation, defended in 2011, examined the ethical investment these authors make via the trope of filiation in their novels. The filiative trope and the related theme of inheritance have long been central to the British novel, but they took on a new significance in the twentieth century, as novel writers responded both thematically and formally to the aftermath of first one and then two world wars. Modernist authors rejected the trope of filiation, as is reflected in the lost children and the barren and celibate men and women that populate the works of authors like Joyce and Eliot. Hence the difficult filiative relationships that appear so frequently in the works of contemporary British novels in fact allude to the long history of the novel genre, and allegorise the impossibility of taking up this legacy in the wake of modernism and associated traumatic European histories. An article related to this work is forthcoming in Critique.

I have taught a wide variety of courses on contemporary literature and literary theory, and my other teaching and research interests include ethics and literature, trauma and memory, the country-house novel and post-imperial melancholy (and the phenomenal popularity of "Downton Abbey"), queer critiques of "childhood studies" and filial models, secularism and "New Atheist" novelists, the graphic novel, visual culture, and narrative theory.


BA: English and Creative Writing, Concordia

MA: English, McGill.
Thesis: "Laminations: The Undifferentiated Narrator in Three Novels by A. S. Byatt"

PhD: English, University of Toronto.
Dissertation: "What Violently Elects Us: Filiation, Ethics, and War in the Contemporary British Novel."

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