Dr Chris Gair
- Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture (English Literature)
- 19th and 20th century American literature
- Realism and Naturalism
- The Beat Generation
- The American Counterculture
- Postnational and Transatlantic Studies
- Literary and Visual Culture
- Co-Editor, Symbiosis: a Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations
- Sport and Literature (especially cricket and triathlon)
Chris Gair is a Senior Lecturer in American Literature. He took his first degree at Loughborough University and his MA and PhD at Nottingham University. He has taught at the College of St. Mark and St. John, Plymouth (1993–98), the University of Birmingham (1998–2007) and was Visiting Fellow in English at the University of Chicago in 2001 and in English and American Studies at Yale University in 2009. He has written numerous articles and books, mainly in his chief research areas, late 19th and early 20th century American literary and visual culture, the Beat Generation and the American Counterculture.
He has recently completed co-editing a collection of essays on C. L. R. James’s Beyond a Boundary for Duke UP and has now returned to a long-term interest in the World’s Columbian Exposition (the ‘White City’, staged in Chicago in 1893) and its links with American literary and visual cultures of the time. His work in this area assesses the significance of the Exposition in terms of the new American history, literature, art, and anthropology that emerged during a time of social and political transformation in and beyond the United States, as immigration and imperialism redefined understanding of class and ethnic relations at national and international levels. It provides an analysis of a period in American history when the combination of economic recession, arguments about the nation’s place in global affairs, and debates about the meaning of American identity assumed new urgency. Writers and artists discussed include Frederick Douglass, Jack London, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Henry James, Mary Louise Fairchild MacMonnies, Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase and Thomas Eakins.
The American Counterculture (Edinburgh UP, 2006) provides a synthesised analysis of a moment in American history, when the combination of post-War prosperity and the social and political repression that characterised middle class American life in the 1950s contributed to the emergence of both widespread civil disobedience and artistic creativity in the Baby Boomer generation. It focuses on a unique moment in American life, when middle class youth attempted to redefine what American culture should be, and how it could effect social and political change. The American Counterculture looks at the relationship between the Counterculture and American Popular culture, examining the ways in which Hollywood, television, and corporate record labels commodified and adapted Countercultural texts, and at the extent to which Countercultural artists and their texts were appropriated, but also contributed to changes in the workings of American capitalism. It provides an interdisciplinary account of the economic and social reasons for the emergence of the Counterculture, and an appraisal of its key literary, political and visual texts.
Postnational Studies. Recent years have witnessed a shift away from the representations of internal national relationships of race, class and gender that emerged and were dominant in the 1970s and ’80s, and toward new transnational paradigms, characterised by associations beyond the geographical and disciplinary boundaries of national multiculturalism. The discipline is being rethought in a manner apposite to an understanding of cultures as participating in complex and overt forms of exchange, in which nationhood is either defended with growing desperation, or recognised as an arbitrary and inappropriate concept in a world where people and ideas traverse national boundaries with ever greater ease. The Trinidadian writer, C.L.R. James (1901–89), is increasingly being seen as a pioneering practitioner of this kind of post-nationalism, and his vast and wide ranging corpus of work, written from the 1920s to 1980s is being re-read and assessed as a counter-model to those that dominated the fields of Cultural Studies, American Studies, Caribbean Studies, etc. during his lifetime. Beyond Boundaries: C.L.R. James and Postnational Studies (Pluto, 2006) is a collection of essays that situate James as a pivotal figure in Cultural Studies, American Studies, Caribbean Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, etc., and as a thinker whose ideas call into question the boundaries between these academic disciplines. Beyond a Boundary at Fifty continues this work, in a collection of essays that demonstrate the broad range of interests and ideas in James’s most enduring book. The essays – contributed by both ‘academic’ and ‘non-academic’ authors – focus on the ways in which his legacy is significant, and on how his different methodologies can be applied in other areas.