Sie sind hier: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2021/22 Prof. Dr. Derek Attridge

Prof. Dr. Derek Attridge

© Joel Elliott
University of York
English and Related Literature

External Senior Fellow (Marie S. Curie FCFP)
Oktober 2021 – Dezember 2021

Raum 01 012
Tel. +49 (0)761 - 203 97413


I was born and raised in South Africa, and obtained my first degree from the University of Natal in 1965. Moving to the UK, I gained a further BA (1968) and a PhD (1971) from Cambridge University. A research fellowship at Oxford University followed (1971-3), then teaching positions at the University of Southampton (1973-1984), Strathclyde University (1984-88), and, in the USA, Rutgers University (1988-98). In 1998, having been awarded a Leverhulme Research Professorship, I returned to the UK and joined University of York, where I became Emeritus in 2016. At Strathclyde and York I was Head of Department, and Graduate Director at Rutgers.

Other fellowships and awards have included the first Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Prize, the ESSE Prize (for The Singularity of Literature), a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Camargo Foundation Fellowship, two National Center for the Humanities Fellowships, and an All Souls Visiting Fellowship. I have been Visiting Professor in France, Italy, the United States, Egypt, and Abu Dhabi, and I am a Fellow of the British Academy.

I have published fifteen books in the main areas of my research – modernist and contemporary fiction, South African literature, poetics and the history of poetry, and literary theory – and edited or co-edited thirteen books in the same fields. I am currently engaged in projects on modernist form, the question of minor languages and translation (with particular attention to Afrikaans), and an extension of the arguments of The Singularity of Literature to other artforms.

Publiktionen (Auswahl)

  • Peculiar Language: Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce (Cornell University Press, 1988; reissued by Routledge, 2004)

  • J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event (Chicago University Press, 2004)

  • The Singularity of Literature (Routledge, 2004; reissued in Routledge Classics, 2017)

  • The Work of Literature (Oxford University Press, 2017)

  • The Experience of Poetry: From Homer’s Listeners to Shakespeare’s Readers (Oxford, 2019)

FRIAS Projekt

The Challenge of Modernist Form: Innovative Style from Joyce to Coetzee

The formal innovations of James Joyce had a profound effect on the writing and reading of fiction, and its repercussions are still felt today throughout the world. Taking advantage of the recent surge of interest in questions of literary form, this project will seek to determine the exact nature of Joyce’s formal revolution, and trace its aftereffects in a number of later writers, including Samuel Beckett, Aidan Higgins, B. S. Johnson, W. F. Hermans, Caryl Churchill, Tom McCarthy, Eleanor Catton, Lucy Ellmann, and J.M. Coetzee. The majority of examples will be chosen from novels written in English, but some attention will be given to work in Afrikaans and Dutch and to the problems of translation that arise in such cases; one chapter will be concerned with drama. The examples will come from a number of national literary traditions, including those of the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, and South Africa. The project thus aims at a fuller understanding of the nature and history of modernist form as a global phenomenon.

An underlying theoretical question will be whether literary form and content are always inseparable, as is often argued, or whether it is possible for writers to successfully exploit formal devices as a separate element in the reader’s experience. The outcome will be a book to be offered to a university press.