PhD Student Profile

Tristan Ireson-Howells

Tristan Ireson-Howells

PhD Student

School: School of Humanities

Campus: Canterbury

Project title

Loss and Failure in Contemporary American Sports Literature.

Biographical Note

Tristan read BA American Studies at the University of Essex (2001-2004); he was awarded The Humanities Award by the University in 2004. He obtained his Masters in Post 1945 American Literature and Theory from the University of Sussex (2004-2005) writing his dissertation on the Postmodern Sublime. He is now studying on a part time basis for his PhD in Contemporary American Literature and is currently in his fourth year of study.

Research Outline

Tristan’s thesis explores representations of loss and failure in postmodern sports narratives; it counters the typical focus in traditional sports fiction’s analysis of the hero and of victory. Using the works of Don DeLillo, Frederick Exley, John Wideman, Sherman Alexie and Bernard Malamud, Tristan explores the significance of the outsider and the loser. He is particularly drawn to the depiction of redemption through failure and the pertinence of loss within the context of social exclusion, the American Dream, and masculinity. Barzan’s claim that one can only know the heart and mind of America by watching a small town game of baseball still holds truth, but postmodern American sports fiction has reimagined a darker side beneath the veneer of sporting glory.

Tristan balances his PhD commitments with full time employment as a disability support administrator for the University. He is currently undertaking research on the portrayal of disability in American Literature.


  • ‘The Postmodern Sublime’, Science and Literature Conference, University of Kent, June 2016
  • ‘Sporting Failure in the Fan’s Narrative’, The Failed Individual - International Conference, University of Mannheim, Germany. November 2015
  • ‘Field of Dreams: The Athlete and the Child in American Literature’, Aethlon Annual Conference, University of East Tennessee, USA. June 2015.
  • ‘Show Me a Hero and I’ll Write You a Tragedy: Failure in American Sports Literature’, Postgraduate Research Forum, Canterbury Christ Church University. January 2015
  • ‘Blitz Play: the Militarization of American Sport’, Postgraduate Research Seminar, Canterbury Christ Church University. August 2014

Supervisory Team

  • Dr Stefania Ciocia (First supervisor)
  • Dr Peter Merchant (Second supervisor)
  • Professor Carolyn Oulton (Chair)

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Last edited: 13/12/2018 21:01:00