Photograph of Professor Peter Barry.Professor Peter Barry

MA (London)


Office: D60
Phone: +44 (0)1970 622538

Teaching Areas

Main teaching interests are in twentieth and twenty first century literature (especially modern and contemporary poetry) and literary theory, with additional interests in Romanticism and the short story.

He is also interested in the theory and practice of teaching English literature and literary theory: sample article ‘Tackling Textuality – with Theory’


Peter's main research interests are in twentieth and twenty first century literature (especially modern and contemporary poetry) and literary theory, with additional interests in Romanticism and the short story.

He is also interested in the theory and practice of teaching English literature and literary theory: for a sample article ‘Tackling Textuality – with Theory’ click here.

Additional Interests

  • Elected Fellow of the English Association, 2004
  • Reviews and poetry editor of English, the journal of the English Association, for twenty years, from 1987 to 2007
  • Member of the Fellowship Committee of the English Association
  • Advisory Board member for the Liverpool University Press series ‘Poetry &’, on contemporary poetry.
  • Editorial Board member for the journal ABC, American, British and Canadian Studies (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
  • Editorial Board member of the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry
  • Member of the Higher Education Academy
  • Series editor of 'Beginnings', a spin-off series from Beginning Theory, published by  Manchester University Press. These are books for BA and MA students on aspects of literary theory and related matters. Titles so far published include Beginning Postmodernism (Tim Woods, 1999, 2nd edition, 2011), Beginning Postcolonialism (John McLeod, 2000, 2nd edition 2010), Beginning Ethnic American Fictions (Maria Lauret, Martin Padgett, Helena Grice, 2001), Beginning Shakespeare (Lisa Hopkins, 2005). Beginning Film Studies (Andrew Dix, 2008), Beginning Realism (Steven Earnshaw, 2010), Beginning Modernism (Jeff Wallace, 2011).

Staff Publications

Peter Barry has published chapters in twenty academic books, and over forty articles in academic journals, including:  American, British and Canadian Studies (twice); Archives; Belgian Essays on Literature and Language; Cambridge Quarterly (four times); Critical Quarterly (three times); Comparative Literature Studies; Dutch Quarterly Review of Anglo-American Letters; English (three times); English in Education (twice); English Language Teaching Journal; English Studies (twice); English Today; Essays in Criticism, (twice); The Explicator; Forum for Modern Language Studies (twice); Orbis Litterarum,(twice); PN Review (twice); Review of English Studies; Studies in Short Fiction; The Yale Journal of Criticism; and The Year’s Work in English Studies.

He has also published poetry in: New Welsh Review (summer 1998); Interchange (spring 1998); Poetry Wales (autumn 2008 and spring 2010); Stand (autumn 2009), and a sequence of twelve poems in Kaleidoscope: an anthology of sequences, ed. Jan Fortune-Wood & Rowan Fortune (Cinnamon Press, 2011).


Issues in Contemporary Critical TheoryIssues in Contemporary Literary Theory (ed), MacMillan Casebook, 1987, reprinted many times and now available in PoD (Print-on-Demand) format.

New British Poetries New British Poetries: the Scope of the Possible, jointly edited with Robert Hampson, (Manchester University Press, hardback, 1993, paperback 1995, re-issued with new Foreword, 2011).

Beginning TheoryBeginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, Manchester University Press

Distributed in the USA by Palgrave and in Canada by University of British Columbia Press).  First edition 1995, second edition 2002, third edition 2009. Over 160,000 English language copies sold. Used in the teaching of literary theory in universities world-wide.

Other editions: 1st South Asian edition (in English) 1999, reprinted. 2001: 2nd South Asian edition 2007: Korean edition, ShiYuShi, Seoul, 2001: Hebrew edition, Open University of Israel, 2004. Ukrainian edition, Smoloskyp, Kiev, 2008. Chinese, Polish, Greek, Japanese and Indonesian editions pending.

“Far from being a modest survey of contemporary literary theory, it has had a vital role in shaping the way that theory is taught in Britain and North America”. (Stephen Regan in the English Association Newsletter). To look inside the book, or purchase a copy, follow the link: Beginning Theory

Contemporary British Poetry and the CityContemporary British Poetry and the City (Manchester University Press, 2000, hardback and paperback)

Choice*, June 2001: selected as ‘Outstanding Title’: ‘The thesis of his excellent study is that "contemporary poetry is in trouble," as indeed it is, and as critic he brings to life Hull, Liverpool, and Birmingham as they are products of persuasively specific poetic treatment. . . . though difficult, elusive, and often frustrating, Barry's provocative study is a must-read because he combines penetrating critical and historical perspectives with great skill. *Choice Reviews Online is published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, part of the American Library Association.

English in PracticeEnglish in Practice, Arnold (UK) and Oxford University Press Inc, New York, 1st edn, 2003, 2nd edn., with additional chapters, Bloomsbury, spring 2012

“I cannot imagine a better way for a student of English to start his or her studies than by reading English in Practice. The best thing about Peter Barry's book is that issues of fundamental importance are introduced by means of detailed examples, so that the student reader never need feel lost  or out of his or her depth. This is a book that will charge a student's intellectual batteries - and probably re-charge those of his or her lecturers"
(Jeremy Hawthorn, Professor of English, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Poetry WarsPoetry Wars: British Poetry of the 1970s and the Battle of Earls Court, Salt Publishing (Cambridge), with Foreword by Andrew Motion and Preface by Robert Hampson, 2006.  For further information, and the Introduction to the book, see

‘Peter Barry’s focus is on the adventurous/rancorous years – to explain how Mottram became editor, to analyse what he published, to describe the ‘alternative’ traditions he nurtured, and to make the whole episode seem an epitome (and in some ways the climax) of the poetic ‘wars’ between Modernism and conservatism which raged through a large part of last century. Barry does all these things very well, researching deeply into long-forgotten minutes and listings to provide an extraordinarily detailed account of the time. In this respect alone his book has a self-sufficient usefulness – as well as a value for posterity’.
(from the ‘Foreword’ by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion)

‘Vanity, paranoia, booze and petty corruption: they are all here. As a warning to future poets. Never mix with bureaucrats. Destroy your correspondence. And count your fingers after shaking hands with the Arts Council’
(Iain Sinclair, ‘psycho-geographer’ and author, most recently, of Ghost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project, Penguin, 2011)  

Literature in ContextsLiterature in Contexts (Manchester University Press, 2007)

This book seeks to problematise the very notion of context, which has remained for the most part stubbornly  un-theorised and un-examined, and it seeks out - in a series of contextualising experiments - contexts which are text-specific, or author-specific, or literary rather than historical, putting forward a distinction between 'deep' and 'broad' contexts, and arguing that we need to counter the prevalence of the latter if literary studies is to avoid becoming a minor branch of history.

Reading Poetry (Manchester University Press, autumn 2012)

Continuing Theory (Routledge), in progress

Contemporary British Poetry (Edited volume in the Continuum Companions Series)