Sean Ward specializes in twentieth-century American, British, and Global Anglophone literature, postcolonial theory, and the Black Atlantic. His book project, A Feeling of Functional Anarchy: Total War, the Small Group, and Literary Form, focuses on writers from the US, the British Empire, and the Anglophone postcolonies who re-imagined collective life during the world wars. Rather than thinking solely in terms of the empire or nation, their texts depict small groups of outcasts—colonized subjects, incarcerated pacifists, queer soldiers, spiritualist mediums, for example—that forge community despite political catastrophe. Sean’s peer-reviewed writing on literature, war, empire, and anti-colonial resistance has been published in Modernism/modernity and Contemporary Literature.
As a teacher, Sean fosters the generative possibilities of the small group by encouraging collaborative engagement with literature and other cultural forms. His pedagogy illustrates how key components of the English classroom—close reading and critical writing, to be sure, but also an attunement to the unquiet voices of the past and the often silenced voices of the present—might inform our everyday lives, as members of interwoven local and global communities.
In conjunction with his research and teaching, Sean founded the Workshop in Literature and Theater at the Montana Women’s Prison, an academic program devoted to the study of critical reading, writing, and performance.