Menu Close

Patrick Bixby

Professor of English, Arizona State University

Patrick Bixby (he/him/his) is Professor of English in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

His scholarly interests span a variety of related fields, including mobility studies, modernist studies, Irish studies, and postcolonial theory and criticism. Dr. Bixby teaches courses in these areas and in the history of the novel, the history of film, the history of literary criticism, contemporary critical theories, and methods of interdisciplinary research.

His essays have appeared in journals such as Modernism/Modernity, Modernist Cultures, Irish Studies Review, and the Journal of Beckett Studies, as well as in collections such as Samuel Beckett and Translation (Edinburgh UP, 2021), A History of Irish Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2019), A History of the Modernist Novel (Cambridge UP, 2015), Beckett in Context (Cambridge UP, 2013), and Beckett and Ireland (Cambridge UP, 2010). His articles and interviews have also appeared in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Conversation, Fortune, and Afar.

He recently completed editorial work on Unaccompanied Traveler: The Writings of Kathleen M. Murphy (Syracuse UP, 2022), which collects a series of twelve travelogues by an extraordinary, but little-known, Irish writer. He has also co-edited, with Gregory Castle, A History of Irish Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2019), a collection of 24 essays that traces a long historical arc through Irish cultural production from the 1890s to the 1960s; Standish O'Grady's Cuculain (Syracuse UP, 2016), a scholarly edition of the Irish historian's writing on the mythic hero; and, with Seán Kennedy, a special issue of the Journal of Beckett Studies, "(Dis)embodied Beckett."

Dr. Bixby's latest book (and winner of the 2023 Institute for Humanities Research Book Award), License to Travel: A Cultural History of the Passport (U of California P, 2022), examines the passports of artists and intellectuals, ancient messengers and modern migrants, to reveal how these seemingly humble documents implicate us in larger narratives about identity, mobility, citizenship, and state authority. This concise cultural history takes the reader on a captivating journey from pharaonic Egypt and Han dynasty China to the passport controls and crowded refugee camps of today. Along the way, the book connects intimate stories of vulnerability and desire with vivid examples drawn from world cinema, literature, art, philosophy, and politics, highlighting the control that travel documents have over our bodies as we move around the globe. See his Tedx Talk on the topic here.

His previous book, Nietzsche and Irish Modernism (Manchester UP, 2022), demonstrates how the ideas of the controversial German philosopher played a crucial role in the emergence and evolution of a distinctly Irish brand of modernist culture. Making an essential new contribution to the history of modernism, the book traces the circulation of these ideas through the writings of George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce, as well as through minor works of literature, magazine articles, newspaper debates, public lectures, and private correspondence. These materials reveal a response to Nietzsche that created abiding tensions between Irish cultural production and reigning religious and nationalist orthodoxies, during an anxious period of Home Rule agitation, world war, revolution, civil war, and state building.

His first monograph, Samuel Beckett and the Postcolonial Novel (Cambridge UP, 2009), set out to revise the Irishman’s reputation as a distinctly “apolitical” and “ahistorical” writer. Placing Beckett’s novels in the context of the newly founded Irish Free State, the study explores for the first time their confrontation with the legacies of both Irish nationalism and British imperialism. In doing so, it reveals Beckett’s fiction as a remarkable example of how postcolonial writing addresses the relationships between private consciousness and public life, as well as those between the novel form and a cultural environment including not only the literary tradition, but also political speeches, national monuments, and anthropological studies.

Dr. Bixby joined the the faculty of ASU’s New College in 2004, after serving as visiting assistant professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College for one year. Previously, he earned a BA in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a MA in English from California State University, Long Beach, and a PhD in English at Emory University. He has held a number of administrative positions at ASU. In 2017, after directing several graduate programs and later serving as Director of Graduate Studies for New College, he took a role building partnerships with Arizona tribal communities, as well as other universities around the globe.

Most recently, in 2021, he became Program Lead for the BA in Disability Studies. In addition to these duties, he currently serves as President of the Samuel Beckett Society and Resident Director of the USAC summer school program at NUI Galway.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of English, Arizona State University