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Andy Irwin

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Nobody Dies at the End? Exploring the Possibilities of Optimism in Gay Men's Writing in Twenty-First Century American Literature

My research project is one of the first to critically examine the literary and cultural implications of intersectionality in twenty-first century gay literature in the USA. It is also one of the first to undertake a comparative examination of the possibilities (and challenges) of queer optimism in this literary corpus. The goal of my research is to provide crucial insight into the significance of gay men’s and in particular gay men from marginalised communities – literary production to America’s self-identity as it grapples with demographic change, the culture wars, and the prominence of millennials as producers and consumers of literature. By critically engaging with gay men’s writing, my research explores these key tensions and ask what role might queer expression play in creating a better America. I am currently focusing on the work of authors such as Brandon Taylor, Ocean Vuong, Bryan Washington and Anthony So because of their visibility in the media and in the contemporary literary marketplace. I will also be using the Lambda Literary Awards shortlists as an archival base for identifying the changes in queer representational strategies and in criteria for critical appeal over the last two decades.

Research Area

  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Languages and Literature


Other Research Interests

English and Anglophone Literature since the 1980s

Masculinity Studies and Critical Theory

Allyship, coalition- and community-building

Widening participation in education 

The practice of disrupting social inequalities


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Editor of the ROLES Sexuality & Gender Studies Network (based at The University of Birmingham)

Associate Member of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA)

Mental Health First Aider (Mental Health First Aid England)

Member, University & Colleges Union