He grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and holds an MA in English literature from the University of Cape Town. His MA thesis on Thomas Pynchon was completed under the guidance of Nobel Laureate, J.M. Coetzee. Shaun Irlam came to the United States in 1985 and completed a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Humanities Center of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He has also been Director of the UB Study Abroad Program to Africa since 2001 and regularly takes groups of students to study in South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda each summer (website). He has lived in the United States for more than 30 years and is still trying to make sense of American culture!
18th-century cultural studies and aesthetics in England and France, current critical theory with an emphasis on deconstruction, postcolonial literature and theory with emphasis on Caribbean and African literatures