Current and Recent Research Students
Dr Marc Botha, Research Associate
Marc Botha is currently a full-time research associate on the Leverhulme Tipping Points project, in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, UK, on secondment from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, where he was appointed as a lecturer in literature in January 2012.
Prior to coming to Durham, he taught music at both secondary and tertiary levels, and recorded and performed widely in South Africa as a classical saxophonist. After initial studies in English, music and psychology, he received his MA cum laude in English from the University of Pretoria in 2004. He was awarded a Durham Doctoral Fellowship in 2006, and received his PhD in literary theory and modernism from Durham University in 2012. Under the supervision of Patricia Waugh, and examined by Derek Attridge and John Nash, his thesis, The Persistence of Minimalism, formulated a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and transhistorical theory of minimalist aesthetics grounded in contemporary philosophical discourse. Developing this work, he is currently working on a monograph provisionally entitled Persistence and Transfiguration: A Theory of Minimalism.
His research is situated at the intersection of cultural theory, avant-garde aesthetics and contemporary philosophy, with specific and linked interests in minimalism, fragility, theories of objecthood, avant-garde aesthetics, queer theory, ontological radicalism and the concept of the event, and the contemporary philosophical re-examination of realism.
Current research on the Leverhulme Tipping Points project is focused in two areas. The first examines the meaning, genealogy and potential of several crucial concepts of radical change and critical transition – event, moment, paradigm, movement, threshold, caesura and end, amongst others – as they have developed in the humanities and been deployed in an interdisciplinary context. The second, similarly focused through its commitment to philosophical radicalism, is centred on the concept of fragility. Preliminarily entitled Fragile Events , it examines the relationship between fragility and event, and explores examples of radically fragile constellations in the fields of political theology, queer cultural studies, jazz and intermedia aesthetics.
The element common to all these areas is a concern with the nature of radical poiesis – the generation of something out of nothing. This concept necessitates staging a dialogue between those current thinkers who might promote hermeneutic radicalism (Agamben, Lacoue-Labarthe, Vattimo, Caputo) and realist accounts of production and emergence (Badiou, Meillassoux, Harman, Norris). On an exemplary level, it also fuels an abiding interest in avant-garde poetics – particular concrete and intermedia poetry (Ian Hamilton Finlay, Robert Lax, and Liliane Lijn, amongst others), and the imbrication of poiesis and phenomenon as exemplified in a range of cultural artifacts, from the austere extremes of Samuel Beckett’s writing to the frenzied improvisation of John Coltrane, and from the expressive urgency of Isidore Isou’s sound poetry to the ambient presence evoked by Dan Flavin’s light art.
With Heather Yeung, Marc co-organized an international conference, Cosmopoetics, in 2010. They are currently compiling a collection of essays, several of which emerged from this event, entitled Cosmopoetics: New Essays in World Poetry and Poetics (2014). Cosmopoetics is an ongoing project aimed at examining the ways in which contemporary poetry and poetics might contribute to the understanding of transnationalism, cosmopolitanism and world-making. He is a co-founder or member of several reading groups at Durham and in Pretoria, was reviews editor for the journal Kaleidoscope (Durham Institute of Advanced Study), and is involved in the journal English Academy Review (Routledge/Unisa). He has work published or forthcoming in journals which include Postmodern Culture (Johns Hopkins), Textual Practice (Routledge), Parallax (Edinburgh), Oxford Literary Review (Edinburgh), TkH: Teorija koja Hoda (Belgrade), and Kaleidoscope (Durham), and wrote a chapter of the edited volume Time: Limits and Constraints (Brill). He will also be co-editing a volume on Critical Transitions with Patricia Waugh (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015) and editing a special issue of the journal English Academy Review (Routledge) on fragility (2014).