Research leader of tomorrow: StFX welcomes Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Conall Cash

Dr. Conall Cash
Dr. Conall Cash

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to welcome to the campus community Dr. Conall Cash, recipient of the university’s first Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, awarded by the Government of Canada to exceptional scholars and research leaders of tomorrow.

The Banting Fellowship, widely regarded as the leading postdoctoral program in Canada, is intended to attract and retain top-tier talent both nationally and internationally, to help develop their leadership potential, and to help them contribute to the country’s economic, social and research-based growth. Fellows receive $70,000 in funding each year for two years. 

All fellows must complete their application in collaboration with the host institution.

“Having Dr. Conall Cash join St. Francis Xavier University as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow is a wonderful achievement for our academic community,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice-President Research, Graduate and Professional Studies. “Very few small primarily undergraduate universities have been successful in the highly competitive Banting application process, but the high quality of Dr. Cash’s research proposal, and the strong support of Dr. Michael D’Arcy and the Department of English were instrumental to this success.”


“Having this time to research is a great privilege,” says Dr. Cash, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Literature, who arrived at StFX earlier this semester from the University of Melbourne, where he was an Early Career Academic Fellow in French Studies. 

Dr. Cash, a Melbourne native, received his PhD in French Studies from Cornell University, with a dissertation entitled Identity Out of Place: Flaubert, Beckett, Godard, and the Subject of Modernism.

Broadly speaking, he’s interested in modernism, and avant garde literature in the 19th and 20th century. He’s particularly interested in narrative form and the relationship between literature and cinema.

At StFX, Dr. Cash is based in the StFX English Department, where he works with Dr. D’Arcy. He is also associated with the Department of Modern Languages as his research work spans English and French literature.

Dr. Cash says he is grateful to the opportunity provided by the Banting Fellowship to engage deeply in his work and to build collaborations. He is currently working on a book related to his dissertation, around narratives of impersonality. He’s interested in understanding how impersonal narrative, which denies readers a sense of any personal connection, becomes of such value in modern literature and what’s achieved by distancing the reader from the narrative. 

“I’m tracing the history of this kind of narrative from the 19th century onward. Why is this something we would want to do – to construct a work of fiction in which the human or personal element is subtracted to an extreme point,” he says.

Recently, Dr. Cash delivered a lecture at Dalhousie University on Samuel Beckett and the idea of ‘generic humanity.’ He will speak at StFX on Nov. 14 where he will present the introduction to his book, during a seminar talk, entitled “Just Personal: Modernist Anxieties and Utopias of Impersonality.”

Additionally, the fellowship provides funding for Dr. Cash to host academic events. He is looking forward to bringing in future guest lecturers and organizing a small conference related to his research interests around modernist literature and the crisis of the self.

Dr. Cash says his connection with StFX originated when he was looking into the Banting Fellowship opportunity and for a professor to work with. Someone he knew in Australia knew of and suggested Dr. D’Arcy as they thought they would have similar interests. Dr. Cash got in touch and Dr. D’Arcy agreed to sponsor the application and has been quite supportive, Dr. Cash says.

He says both Dr. D’Arcy and StFX Research Grants Office Director David Bruce put a lot of time into the application.

Dr. Cash says being based at a smaller university appealed to him as it provides opportunity to get to know a lot of faculty and students more easily. The scholarship aspect also appealed as several faculty members in the StFX English Department work in modernism.