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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Rory O'Bryen

Rory O'Bryen
Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture
Spanish & Portuguese
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
(+44) (0)1223 331676

King's College
King's Parade


Rory O'Bryen teaches and researches on modern Latin American culture, and has particular research interests in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Colombian culture and history. He is the author of Literature, Testimony and Cinema in Contemporary Colombian Culture: Spectres of "La Violencia" (Woodridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2008), which explores the role of violence in the production of urban space and the urbanizing dimensions of memory discourses on violence in Colombia. He has co-edited and contributed to Latin American Popular Culture: Politics, Media, Affect (New York: Boydell and Brewer, 2013), Latin American Cultural Studies: A Reader (Routledge, 2017), and Transnational Spanish Studies (Liverpool, 2020), and was contributing editor of the dossier 'Colombia - Violence in War and Peace' (Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. Vol. 27, No. 4). He has also published stand-alone articles on Borges, Fernando Vallejo, the ‘McOndo’ group, Roberto Bolaño, Santiago Gamboa, the poetry of Candelario Obeso,site-specific art, and Latin American ecology. 

His current research explores the representation of the Magdalena River in Colombian culture between 1850 and the present day. It engages with a range of works, including mid-nineteenth-century regional romances, late nineteenth-century Afro-Colombian poetry, representations of leprosy in early twentieth-century literature, music and silent film, the ‘novela de la Violencia’ of the 1950s, and late twentieth-century engagements with narcotráfico. In doing so it uses the river as a conduit into the fragile interplay between nation-formation and global political and economic processes. 

He is one of the editors of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies

Dr O'Bryen welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests in Latin American literary and cultural studies. His doctoral supervision has covered the following topics: literature and film of the Cuban Revolution; C19th Latin American Romanticism; the short story in Latin America; prison writing in Latin America; the novels of Roberto Bolaño and Enrique Vila-Matas; poetry and politics from the Southern Cone; Latin American literary engagements with Nazism and WWII;  imaginaries of the state in post-conflict Colombia and Peru; the writing of errancy/errancia in post-1960s Latin America; Afro-Latin Americanism and popular music; state-making and genocide in Guatemalan narrative and poetry; early photography in Latin America; the poetics of the remnant in literature and visual art from Argentina and Peru; C19th Puerto Rican poetry and politics; and horrorism in the contemporary Latin American novel.  

Published works: 



O’Bryen, Rory (2008), Literature, Testimony and Cinema in Contemporary Colombian Culture: Spectres of La Violencia (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer) 222 pages.

Edited books

With Geoffrey Kantaris (2013), Latin American Popular Culture:  Politics, Media, Affect (New York/Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer) 300 pages. 

With Jens Andermann, Ben Bollig, Lorraine Leu, Daniel Mosquera, and David M.J Wood (2017), Latin American Cultural Studies: A Reader (New York/London: Routledge) 486 pages.

With Catherine Davies (2020), Transnational Spanish Studies (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press). 368 pages. 

Articles and book chapters

O'Bryen, Rory; Martínez Medina, Santiago; Cottyn, Hanne; Garrido, Ana María; and Kirshner, Joshua (2024), 'Water factories of the high Colombian mountains: Páramo as 'infrastructural nature'. Water Alternatives 17(1): 167-186. 

O'Bryen, Rory, (2023), Review of Dominique Jullien, Borges, Buddhism and World Literature: A Morphology of Renunciation Tales (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Comparative Critical Studies 20.2-3: 381–385. 

O'Bryen, Rory and David M. J. Wood (2023), Introduction to 'Visualities in Conflict', dossier on the legacy of Andrea NobleJournal of Latin American Cultural Studies Vol. 31, No.4, pp. 493-497. 

O'Bryen, Rory (2022), 'Transnational Currents: Europe and the Americas', in Jonathan B. Monroe Ed. Roberto Bolaño in Context (Cambridge: CUP), pp. 88-98.

O'Bryen, Rory (2020), 'Luca Zanetti, Colombia: al borde del paraíso, with an introduction by Alfredo Molano Bravo and texts by Anamaría Bedoya Builes'. Revista de Estudios Colombianos No.55 (enero-junio), pp. 107-108. Review. 

O'Bryen, Rory, and Catherine Davies (2020), Introduction to Transnational Spanish Studies (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press), pp. 1-34. 

O'Bryen, Rory (2020), 'Untangling the Mangrove: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of Poor in the Colombian Caribbean' in Liliana Gómez-Popescu and Lisa Blackmore eds. Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art'. Book chapter.  

O'Bryen, Rory (2018), 'Más allá del silencio de los fusiles: Preliminary Reflections on the "Continuum" of Violence in Colombia post-2016'. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 417-432 Article. 

O'Bryen, Rory (2018), 'On the Shores of Politics: Popular Republicanism and the Magdalena River in Candelario Obeso's Cantos populares de mi tierra'. Bulletin of Latin American Research Vol 37, No. 4, pp. 464-478. Article (published online 2017). 

O’Bryen, Rory (2016), ‘Literature, Culture and Society of the Magdalena River’ in Raymond L. Williams ed. A History of Colombian Literature (Cambridge: CUP) pp 215-237. Book chapter

O’Bryen, Rory (2015) ‘Writing with the Ghost of Pierre Menard: Authorship, Responsibility and Justice in Roberto Bolaño’s Distant Star’, in Ignacio Lópezcalvo ed., Bolaño, A Less Distant Star (New York: Palgrave), pp. 17-34. Book chapter.

O’Bryen, Rory (2014) Suárez, Juana. Critical Essays on Colombian Cinema and Culture: Cinembargo Colombia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Print. Revista de Estudios Hispánicos. October. Review. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2013) ‘Tierradentro’ and ‘Guayabero Rock Art, Sierra de Chiribiquete’ in Art and Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas (London: Phaidon Press). Book chapters.

O’Bryen, Rory (2013) Martin, Deborah. Painting, Literature and Film in Colombian Feminine Culture, 1940-2005. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer/Tamesis. Print. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. Review.

O’Bryen, Rory (2013) ‘Santiago Gamboa’, in Will H. Corral, Nicholas Birns and Juan E. de Castro (Eds), The Contemporary Spanish American Novel: Bolaño and After (London: Bloomsbury, pp. 243-247. Book chapter. 

O’Bryen, Rory and Geoffrey Kantaris (2013) ‘The Fragile Contemporaneity of the Popular’, in Geoffrey Kantaris and Rory O’Bryen eds. Latin American Popular Culture: Politics, Media, Affect (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer), pp. 1–42. Book chapter. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2013) ‘Affect, Politics and the Production of The People: Meditations on the Río Magdalena’, in Geoffrey Kantaris and Rory O’Bryen eds. Latin American Popular Culture: Politics, Media, Affect (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2013), pp. 227–248. Book chapter. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2011) ‘Memory, Melancholia and Political Transition in Amuleto and Nocturno de Chile by Roberto Bolaño’, Bulletin of Latin American Research Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 473–487. Article. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2011) ‘McOndo, Magical Neoliberalism and Latin American Identity’, Bulletin of Latin American Research 30.1 (March): pp.158–174. Article. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2009) Díaz, Jesús. The Initials of the Earth: A Novel of the Cuban Revolution. Trans. Kathleen Ross, with a foreword by Fredric Jameson. Durham: Duke University Press. Forum for Modern Language Studies. Review. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2009) Caistor, Nick. Octavio Paz. London: Reaktion Books (Critical Lives series), 2008. 144 pp.  Forum for Modern Language Studies. Review. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2009) Fowler, William and Peter Lambert Eds. Political Violence and the Construction of National Identity in Latin America. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. xii + 244. Forum for Modern Language Studies. Review. 

O’Bryen, Rory (2005) ‘Jorge Luis Borges’ in Bill Marshall ed., France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History (London: ABC Clio, 2005), Vol. l, pp. 170–171. Encyclopaedia entry.

O’Bryen, Rory (2004) ‘Representations of the City in the Narrative of Fernando Vallejo’, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 13:2, pp. 195-205. Article. 


Salobre (2017). A community-voiced film about the effects of environmental and man-made pressures on the livelihoods of communities living in and around the Ciénaga Grade de Santa Marta, Colombia, about the coping strategies they adopt, and about their hopes and fears for the future of the ecosystem and their livelihoods. Cortometraje realizado como parte del proyecto Building reslilience in the Colombian Caribbean in the face of slow and shock environmental hazads (PI, Piran White, University of York).

Conversation with Horacio Castellanos Moya (podcast

Podcast of a discussion with Horacio Castellanos Moya about his novels InsensatezEl ascoEl arma en el hombreLa diabla en el espejo, and Tirana memoria, and about contemporary Central American and Latin American literature - June, 2017.