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Dr. Philip McGowan - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Philip McGowan

Dr Philip McGowan

Senior Lecturer

Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3261

For media contact email
or call +44(0)2890 973091.


Philip McGowan is Senior Lecturer in American Literature with research and teaching interests in twentieth-century American poetry, contemporary American fiction, as well as in film, most recently the American movies of Alfred Hitchcock. He also has wider interests in Puritan and revolutionary America, the American nineteenth century, westerns, and crime fiction and how these connect with contemporary manifestations of American identity. In the field of poetry, how it operates in the wake of Modernism and the philosophical possibilities of poetic language in the work of post-World War Two American poets is an area of developing importance in his work.


My semester 1 office hours for 2013/14 are Mondays 10-11 & Tuesdays 10-11.

My semester 2 office hours for 2013/14 are Tuesdays 10-11 & Wednesdays 10-11.

If these times do not suit, please email me ( to make an alternative appointment.


Philip is currently Chair of the Irish Association for American Studies (IAAS) and a member of the MLA (Modern Languages Association) and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS).

He organized the 2006 annual IAAS conference at Queen's (31 March, 1 April 2006) entitled American Prohibitions and the 2011 annual IAAS conference American Appropriations, American Interventions at QUB on 15 & 16 April 2011. In 2016, he is bringing the annual BAAS (British Association for American Studies) conference to the University for a joint meeting with the IAAS, the first time in more than 2 decades that both associations will have met for an annual conference.

He also serves on the Board of Directors of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society ( and co-organised the 9th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference at Senate House in London (8-14 July 2007). The 12th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference will be held in Montgomery, Alabama 6-10 November 2013.


Philip presented a plenary lecture entitled 'Producing Neverland: Imploding the Past in Sin City' at the inaugural joint BAAS/IAAS Postgraduate Conference at the University of Dublin (January 2012).

He was also the keynote speaker at the VIII International Conference on English Language and Literary Studies in Cetinje, Montenegro (October 2013) where he spoke on 'Wallace Stevens and the Convention of American Beauty'.


Research Statement

The book I am researching on Las Vegas (Reading Las Vegas, Berg) will be a cultural study of the city in terms of its fictional & cinematic representations alongside readings of the contemporary city's cartography and architecture.

I have recently completed a number of journal articles: one on the limits of poetic language in Middle Generation American poetry for the English journal (Winter 2013; an analysis of how Alcoholics Anonymous appropriated (almost unedited it would appear) swathes of nineteenth-century Temperance literature for (re)publication in its Big Book (Journal of American Studies; separate pieces on two Alfred Hitchcock films, Strangers on a Train in terms of the routines of American Carnival, and The Man Who Knew Too Much and its genesis in a remembered trip to Las Vegas and how that connects to my larger work on Vegas as a location of hyper tourism, continual self re-writing and arguably the endpoint of the American project.

With regard to poetry, a paper on the interrelations between the poetry of RS Thomas and Wallace Stevens that I presented at the British & Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference (QUB 15-17 September 2010) I am extending for publication, and I have proposed a paper on the relation between Elizabeth Bishop's poems 'At the Fishhouses' and 'The Monument' with Emersonian philosophy for MLA 2014.

An ongoing work that I am compiling is an illustrated biography of Dorothy Parker and I foresee other related, more academically focused pieces coming out of this research.

Other recent publications include:

'Popular Literary Tastes' in Bryant Mangum, ed., F. Scott Fitzgerald In Context (Cambridge University Press, March 2013);

'Exile & the City: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Lost Decade"' in F. Scott Fitzgerald Review (May 2013,;

'Identity Politics in Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train' in Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism;

'The American Carnival of The Great Gatsby' in Harold Bloom, ed. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (Blooms Modern Critical Interpretations, 2010);

'The Games Bond Plays' in Robert G. Weiner et al, eds. James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films Are Not Enough (2010);

'Nelson Algren and Carnival in 1930s America' in Nelson Algren: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Ward (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007).

For RAE 2008, my main publications were the following 2 monographs:

American Carnival: Seeing & Reading American Culture (Greenwood, 2001);
Anne Sexton & Middle Generation Poetry: The Geography of Grief (Praeger, 2004).
In 2007, he co-edited (with Philip Coleman, University of Dublin) essay collection 'After Thirty Falls': New Essays on John Berryman was published by Rodopi as was the essay 'Reading Fitzgerald Reading Keats' in the University of Chicago/Liverpool University Press Twenty-First Century Readings of Tender is The Night (edited by William Blazek and Laura Rattray).



At undergraduate level I currently teach on the Level 2 Introduction to American Writing module with my colleague Andrew Pepper and offer the Level 3 module American Fiction 1945-60 which examines fiction by William Maxwell, Chester Himes, Shirley Jackson, Jane Bowles, Paul Bowles, John Cheever, Wallace Stegner, James Baldwin, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Saul Bellow, Carson McCullers, Raymond Chandler, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, Bernard Malamud and John Updike.


At MA, my 12-week elective module American Poetry from Dickinson to Olds is available to students on the MA in Modern Poetry and the MA in Modern Literary Studies pathways. Students can choose to concentrate on a number of the following suggested poets & collections: Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems; Wallace Stevens, Harmonium and The Collected Poems; Sylvia Plath, Ariel; Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems; John Berryman, The Dream Songs; Mark Doty, Atlantis and The Sweet Machine;Sharon Olds, Blood, Tin, Straw; Donald Allen, ed., The New American Poetry, 1945-1960; Donald Allen & George Butterick, eds., The Postmoderns: the New American Poetry Revised.


At Ph.D. level I am currently supervising/co-supervising the following projects:

'Shades of Grey: The Vigilante Syndrome in Contemporary Fiction and Cinema'

'John McGahern: Community, Influence and Historical Revisionism'

'Joy and Joyless Work'

'A Cartography of Home'


I am interested in supervising projects in the following areas: American poetry, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American fiction, contemporary American cultural studies, film, literatures of addiction, Temperance literature, Transcendentalism, the American West.


Administrative Leadership

For RAE 2008 I collated the School of English documentation and drafted the RA5 narrative.

As Postgraduate Director of Education for the School, I authored English's submission as part of the University's successful bid for BGP1, assessors rating the School of English sections as the application's 'jewel in the crown'.

Management  & Administration

2006-2010: Postgraduate Director of Education, Chair School Postgraduate Committee, Chair MA Examination Board, Member Postgraduate Advisory Board, Member School Management Board, Member University Academic Board

2010-2012: Chair School of English Examination Board

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Frequent Journals

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

ID: 40859