Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Associate Professor

20th Century American Literature & Culture, Modernism, African American Literature, Southern Studies 

Office: RH 227
Email: tryan@niu.edu

Educational Background

Ph.D. University of Nevada, Reno; 2004
M.A. University of Nevada, Reno; 2000
B.A. University of Reading, England; 1993

Fields of Interest

Modernist, Southern & African American Literature; Blues, Jazz, & Popular Music between the World Wars; the Golden Age of Hollywood.

 Research Interests

Tim Ryan’s research operates at the intersections between modernist, southern, and African American literatures and cultures. He explores the interrelationships between canonical literary texts and such forms as historiography, film, and, above all, popular music, elucidating intertextual, interdisciplinary, and interracial dialogues in American culture of the first half of the twentieth century. His amphitextual readings explore the ways in which culture creates and shapes textual meaning while also emphasizing the inherent value and complexities of the text itself, whether literary or popular.


He has published on such writers and artists as William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Charley Patton, Alexander Woollcott, Willa Cather, and Billie Holiday. 

Selected Publications


Yoknapatawpha Blues: Faulkner’s Fiction and Southern Roots Music. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2015. Forthcoming.

Calls and Responses: The American Novel of Slavery since Gone With the Wind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008.
Winner of the Jules & Frances Landry Award

Articles and Book Chapters

“Screwball Curves and Blues Licks: Hollywood Comedy and African American Music in Faulkner and Hurston.” Faulkner and Hurston. Ed. Christopher Rieger and Andrew Leiter. Cape Girardeau: Southeast Missouri State UP, 2016. 

“‘Go to Jail About This Spoonful’: Narcotic Determinism and Human Agency in ‘That Evening Sun’ and ‘A Spoonful Blues.’” Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas: Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha 2013. Ed. Jay Watson and James Thomas. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2016. 89-106.

“Book Notes: Yoknapatawpha Blues.” Largehearted Boy. May 4. 2015. http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2015/05/book_notes_tim_4.html

‘The Matter with Your Line’: Gender, Sexual, and Racial Politics in Charley Patton’s ‘Pony Blues.’” Journal of American Culture 38.1 (March 2015): 27-38.

“‘A Little Music Aint About the Nicest Thing a Fellow Can Have’: Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Country Songs.” Mississippi Quarterly 67.3 (Summer 2014).

“‘The Faint Plinking of a Guitar’: Faulkner’s Forgotten Bluesman and the Power of Vernacular in If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem.” Faulkner Journal 27.1 (Spring 2013): 1-25.

“‘A Whole Family of Hurstons’: Black and White Kinship in Zora Neale Hurston’s Family Narratives.” Critical Insights: Family. Ed. John V. Knapp. Ipswich, MA: Salem P, 2013. 247-64.

“Designs Against Tara: Frances Gaither’s The Red Cock Crows and Other Counternarratives to Gone with the Wind.” Mississippi Quarterly 59.2 (Spring 2006): 243-69.