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Ben Masters

Assistant Professor in Literature 1880 to the present, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

BA and MSt (Oxford); PhD (Cambridge)

I joined the School of English in 2017 as an Assistant Professor in English Literature (1880-present). Prior to this I was a Lecturer at the Open University and a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have taught both literature and creative writing. As well as scholarly research, I write fiction and have written reviews and essays for Times Literary Supplement, Guardian, New York Times and Five Dials, amongst other publications.

Teaching Summary

I teach widely on modern and contemporary literature. Presently I contribute to the following modules:

Undergraduate:

Studying Literature; Dark Futures, Tainted Pasts; Contemporary Fiction; Literature and Popular Culture; Modern and Contemporary Literature

Postgraduate:

Place, Region, Empire (Convenor); Literature in Britain post-1950; Literary Geographies

I welcome proposals from potential PhD students on fiction of the post-war to present day period, literary style, ethical criticism, and the relationships between creative and critical practice.

Research Summary

My research, broadly speaking, encompasses prose writing (especially the novel form) from the nineteenth century to the present day, with a particular focus on the long post-war to present period. I… read more

Recent Publications

Books:

  • Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction since the 1960s (Oxford University Press, Dec 2017)
  • Noughties, a novel (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton [UK], Hogarth/Crown [US], 2012).

Select chapters, essays, reviews and papers:

  • 'The Mid-Atlantics' - chapter in The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction 1980 - the Present, ed. Peter Boxall, (Cambridge University Press, in preparation).
  • ''Glamour and Grammar': The Influence of Vladimir Nabokov on the work of Anthony Burgess' - conference paper, Anthony Burgess: Life, Work, Reputation (2017).
  • 'The Real Thing: Michael Chabon's Ingenious Scale Models', Times Literary Supplement (27 January 2017).
  • 'A Change of View: H. G. Wells and Adjustment-Style', Times Literary Supplement (22 January 2016).
  • 'Research and Practice' - paper given at Contemporary Cultures of Writing seminar (Institute of English Studies, London, 17 November 2015).
  • 'Living the Dream in Milton Keynes', Guardian (10 February 2015).
  • 'From the Family', Times Literary Supplement (26 September 2014) [review of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks].
  • 'Things I Don't Want to Know' (2013) - commissioned short story for BBC Radio.
  • 'Martin Amis's Yellow Dog' - NPR (National Public Radio, America) (15 December 2013).
  • 'Bangs a Drum', Times Literary Supplement (8 February 2013) [review of James Wood's The Fun Stuff].
  • 'A Short Defense of Literary Excess', New York Times, (15 October 2012).
  • 'Live for Style: A Clockwork Orange and its creator, fifty years on', Times Literary Supplement (28 September 2012).
  • 'On Style', Five Dials (Hamish Hamilton), no. 27.
  • Researcher for Faulks on Fiction (Random House and BBC Books, 2011).

Current Research

My research, broadly speaking, encompasses prose writing (especially the novel form) from the nineteenth century to the present day, with a particular focus on the long post-war to present period. I am interested in the ethical and philosophical possibilities of style and the applications of lyrical close reading. My monograph, Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction since the 1960s, examines the ethical and political valences of so-called excessive writing in the post-war to present period, with chapters on Anthony Burgess, Angel Carter, Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, Nicola Barker and David Mitchell, and simultaneously addresses the ethical turn in contemporary literary criticism.

I am currently writing on the influence of American fiction on the work of Amis, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan, as well as a planned larger project that considers these writers as part of a distinctive literary coterie. I am also writing about the re-emergence of style as a prominent critical topic and the concurrent rise of a politically and ethically conscious formalism.

I also write fiction. My first novel, Noughties, was published in 2012, and I am working on my second at present.

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