Nicholas Birns

Nicholas Birns is a scholar of literature, including fantasy and Australian literature. As a Tolkien scholar he has written on a variety of topics including The Scouring of the Shire and Tolkien's biblical sources. His analysis of the writings of Anthony Powell and Roberto Bolaño has been admired by scholars.

Nicholas Birns
Known forTolkien research
Academic background
Academic work
DisciplineAustralian literature


Nicholas Birns took his BA at Columbia University in 1988.[1][2] He took his MA at New York University in 1990, and he completed his PhD in 1992, also at New York University.[1]

Birns was a visiting professor at Western Connecticut State University from 1992 to 1993.[1] He was a professor at the New School from 1995 to 2014.[1] He joined Eugene Lang College in 2005, teaching many different courses in literature.[1] He taught at the College of New Rochelle from 2012.[1] He is also an adjunct instructor at the New York University School of Professional Studies.[3]

He is the editor of Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/NZ Literature.[4] He is a noted Tolkien scholar, having written on "The Scouring of the Shire",[5] The Children of Hurin,[6] the wizard Radagast,[7] Tolkien's biblical sources,[8] and other topics.


The scholar of English literature Christine Berberich, reviewing Birns's Understanding Anthony Powell for Modernism/modernity, described it as "a labor of love" and "a laudable task" undertaken with a "thorough knowledge of the subject matter", though she regretted the lack of discussion of the "influence of fascism on the British upper classes" in the 1930s, and of the holocaust, whereas the lesser-known Katyn massacre was covered in detail.[9]

The scholar of Spanish and Latin American literature Eduardo Gonzalez wrote that Roberto Bolaño as World Literature was "the best Bolaño critical ensemble since Bolaño Salvaje (2006)" and had an "exemplary introduction".[10]

The author and scholar of Australian literature Jean-Francois Vernay wrote of Birns's Contemporary Australian literature: A world not yet dead that it discussed the writings of Australian authors "within the wider international context, and in terms of the history of ideas". In his view, Birns "manages to think outside the box by applying tenets of neoliberalism to Australian literary studies and one learns much from this book, not least from its valuable discussions of the American reception of Australian fiction."[11]



Edited collectionsEdit

  • 2007: Companion to Twentieth Century Australian Literature, with Rebecca McNeer, Camden House Publishing.
  • 2010: Reading Across The Pacific: Australian-United States Intellectual Histories (with Robert Dixon), Sydney University Press.
  • 2010: Mario Vargas Llosa and Latin American Politics (with Juan E. De Castro), Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2011 Willa Cather: Critical Insights, Salem Press.
  • 2012: Cultural Encounters, Salem Press.
  • 2013: The Contemporary Spanish American Novel (with Will Corral and Juan E. De Castro), Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • 2017: Roberto Bolaño as World Literature (with Juan E. De Castro), Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • 2017: Options for Teaching Australian and New Zealand Literature (with Nicole Moore and Sarah Shieff), Modern Language Association.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Birns, Nicholas (5 October 2014). "Nicholas Birns". Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Bookshelf | Columbia College Today". Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  3. ^ "Faculty Profile: Nicholas Birns, Adjunct Instructor | NYU SPS Professional Pathways". Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  4. ^ "Nicholas Birns". New York University. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  5. ^ Birns, Nicholas (2012). "'You Have Grown Very Much': The Scouring of the Shire and the Novelistic Aspects of The Lord of the Rings". Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. 23 (1): 82–101. JSTOR 24353144.
  6. ^ Birns, Nicholas. "The Children of Húrin, Narn i Chîn Húrin: The Tale of the Children of Húrin." Tolkien Studies 5.1 (2008): 189-200.
  7. ^ Birns, Nicholas. "The enigma of Radagast: revision, melodrama, and depth." Mythlore 26.1 (2007): 8.
  8. ^ Birns, Nicholas. "." Birns, Nicholas (2011). "The Stones and the Book: Tolkien, Mesopotamia, and Biblical Mythopoeia". In Fisher, Jason (ed.). Tolkien and the study of his sources: critical essays. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 45–68. ISBN 978-0-7864-6482-1. OCLC 731009810.
  9. ^ Berberich, Christine (2005). "Understanding Anthony Powell (review)". Modernism/modernity. 12 (1): 200–202. doi:10.1353/mod.2005.0032. ISSN 1080-6601. S2CID 143015487.
  10. ^ González, Eduardo (2018). [ "Review of Roberto Bolaño as World Literature ed. by Nicholas Birns and Juan E. De Castro"]. Comparative Literature Studies. 55 (2): 466–469. doi:10.5325/complitstudies.55.2.0466. {{cite journal}}: Check |url= value (help)
  11. ^ Vernay, Jean-Francois (2016). Contemporary Australian literature: A world not yet dead [Book Review]. Commonwealth Essays and Studies, 38(2), 139–140.

External linksEdit