Allan Hepburn

 Allan Hepburn
Contact Information
514 398 4864
Email address: 
allan.hepburn [at]

Arts 340
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature
Specialization by geographical area: 
Great Britain
United States
Specialization by time period: 
Archives & Bibliography
History & Theory of the Novel
Identity & Representation
Areas of interest: 

modernism; contemporary fiction; British and American novel; Irish literature; Canadian fiction; Elizabeth Bowen; mid-century fiction; Ivy Compton-Burnett; Muriel Spark; Graham Greene; James Joyce; Edith Wharton; John Le Carré; ideas of the future; faith and fiction; material culture; opera and literature; narrative theory; spy fiction; visual culture; objects and things; collectors and collections; aesthetics; history of the novel


I have published three monographs, eight edited books, and fifty-five articles. If I were obliged to name just one specialty that unites these publications, I would probably say “the novel.” I teach courses on British, Irish, and American fiction, and my research concentrates on novelistic entanglements with cultural issues, such as espionage, fine art, and religion. My next monograph bears the provisional title, “Citizenship in Mid-Century British Literature: War, Statehood, Extinction.” This book addresses changing ideas of belonging, as represented in novels, from the Second World War through the Welfare State. Specific chapters focus on queer citizenship, racialized citizens, nuclear extinction, and military service as a component of belonging in mid-century Britain.


Ph.D. (Princeton)
B.A., M.A. (University of Western Ontario)

Selected publications: 


A Grain of Faith: Religion in Mid-Century British Literature (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Book cover of "A Grain of Faith: Religion in Mid-Century British Literature" by Allan Hepburn

Enchanted Objects: Visual Art and Contemporary Fiction (University of Toronto Press, 2010)

Intrigue: Espionage and Culture (Yale University Press, 2005)

Edited Books

Friendship and the Novel (McGill-Queen's UP, 2024)

Diplomacy and the Modern Novel: France, Britain, and the Mission of Literature (Co-edited with Isabelle Daunais. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2020)

Book cover of "Diplomacy and the Modern Novel: France, Britain, and the Mission of Literature" edited by Allan Hepburn and Isabelle Daunais

The Weight of a World of Feeling: Reviews and Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (Northwestern UP, 2017)

Around 1945: Literature, Citizenship, Rights (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016)

Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen (Edinburgh University Press, 2010)

The Bazaar and Other Stories by Elizabeth Bowen (Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

Troubled Legacies: Narrative and Inheritance (University of Toronto Press, 2007)

Articles and Book Chapters

‘We Know Nothing Except through Style’: John Banville’s Worldliness.Irish Studies Review 31.4 (2023). 

Sound, Interrogation, Torture: John le Carré and the Audible State.PMLA 138.2 (2023), 290-305. 

‘To Come into the Story as Late as Possible, and To Tell It as Fast as You Can’: Pace in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.Journal of Modern Literature vol. 46, no. 2 (2023), 157-73. 

Reviews and Public Scholarship

Over the years, I have reviewed books for the Literary Review of Canada, Toronto Review of Books, Boston Book Review, Quill & Quire, National Post, and other journals.

As a pianist, I have an abiding interest in classical music. I have given talks about opera to the Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company. Back when I wrote a lot of journalism, I occasionally provided program notes for the Canadian Opera Company.

I have given interviews on CBC and BBC radio about such topics as pseudonyms, George Orwell’s popularity, and spy fiction.

Because of my first book, called Intrigue: Espionage and Culture, I have been invited hither and yon to talk about spy fiction. In this clip, I introduce (in French) some of the literary aspects of John le Carré’s spy fiction

Elizabeth Bowen is a cornerstone of my research. With two other experts, I participated in a podcast about Bowen’s life and career.

In addition to co-editing the Oxford Mid-Century Studies series, I also co-edit the McGill-Queen’s University Press poetry series.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 2022
  • SSHRC Insight Grant, 2015-19
  • SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2011-14
  • Carrie M. Derick Award for Graduate Teaching and Supervision, McGill University, 2009
  • SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2007-10
  • SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2002-05
  • University of Toronto Teaching Award, 1998
  • SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1990-92
Graduate supervision: 

I supervise MA and PhD students in a wide range of twentieth-century and contemporary literature. Some recent projects include terrorism in contemporary British fiction; Alan Hollinghurst’s sexual politics; soundscapes in Samuel Beckett’s radio plays; Muriel Spark and acoustics; the legal concept of privacy in mid-century fiction; confession in Irish literature; Seamus Heaney and pastoral poetry; treason and transnational literature; female middlebrow comedy; British novels about the occupation of France; and so on.

Taught previously at: 

University of Toronto

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