Dr Doug Battersby

PhD, MA, BA

    • BS8 1TB

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    Research interests

    I joined the Department of English at Bristol as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in 2018. In September 2021, I will take up a 3-year Marie Curie Global Fellowship at Stanford University (2021–23) and Bristol (2023–4). I completed my PhD at the University of York in 2018, after studying at the University of Leeds, University College London, and Trinity College Dublin. Prior to joining Bristol, I was a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tokyo. 

    My research falls broadly within the fields of modern and contemporary fiction and literary theory. I am particularly interested in how writers’ techniques for depicting emotion, thought, and sensation have evolved in response to both the precedents set by other writers and contemporary cultural, philosophical, and scientific understandings of gender, sexuality, subjectivity, and the body. Some of my work is published or forthcoming in journals such as English, Modernism/modernity, MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, Philosophy and Literature, and Literature and Medicine. I also review contemporary fiction for newspapers such as the Financial Times and The Irish Times (for more details, see my website: dougbattersby.com).

    My first book, Troubling Late Modernism: Ethics, Feeling, and the Novel Form (under contract with Oxford UP) examines how modernist techniques for representing characters’ thoughts, feelings, and desires have been perversely reinvented by writers of the postwar period. Chapters on Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, John Banville, J. M. Coetzee, and Eimear McBride reveal how these writers at once exploit and interrogate the potential for modernist narrative forms to lend sympathy and profundity to sentiments deemed in admissible in our everyday lives. Darkly manipulating modernism’s signature techniques to place readers too close to the experiences of protagonists compelled by perverse or exploitative forms of desire, late modernist fiction shows these techniques to be far more ethically fraught than other historians of modernism’s afterlives have supposed. 

    I am currently working on my second book, provisionally titled The Novel and the Heart: 1840–1940, exploring the heart as a metaphor and object of affective description in Victorian and modernist fiction. The first article from this project, "Ford Madox Ford and the New Cardiology," won the British Association of Modernist Studies Essay Prize (2021) and is forthcoming with Modernist Cultures (2022). 

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