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Shaun Irlam

Associate ProfessorShaun
Office: 641 Clemens Hall
Phone: 645-0856
Personal Website:
UB Study Abroad | Destination: South Africa–>


Shaun Irlam is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. He grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and holds an M.A. in English literature from the University of Cape Town. His M.A. thesis on Thomas Pynchon was completed under the guidance of Nobel Laureate, J.M. Coetzee. Shaun Irlam came to the United States in 1985 and completed a Ph.D in Comparative Literature at the Humanities Center of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He began teaching at UB in 1993. In 1999, his first book, Elations: The Poetics of Enthusiasm in Eighteenth-century Britain appeared from Stanford University Press. He has also published on the 18th century Anglo-Caribbean poet, James Grainger. More recent articles have examined post-apartheid South African literature and nationhood, the novels of J.M. Coetzee, and autobiography in Burundi. His teaching and research interests include 18th-century cultural studies and aesthetics in England and France, current critical theory with an emphasis on deconstruction, and especially, postcolonial literature and theory with emphasis on Caribbean and African literatures. In recent years his research and teaching has taken him regularly to the Great Lakes region in central Africa.

Prof. Irlam is currently working on a book project that explores the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. His research focuses on genocide and representation through literature and film in the context of Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo. He has also been Director of the UB Study Abroad Program to Africa since 2001 and regularly takes groups of students to study in South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda each summer (website). He has lived in the United States for 25 years, where he’s still trying to make sense of American culture!