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Department of English Studies

Our Current and Recent Research Students

We have a thriving postgraduate community, with around 75 current PhD students, and many more MA students. The profiles of some of our current and recent PhD students can be found here.

Dr Marc Botha, Research Associate

Research Associate in the Department of English Studies
Research Associate of Work Package 5 in Tipping Points Research Project

Contact Dr Marc Botha (email at


Marc Botha is currently a full-time research associate on the Leverhulme Tipping Points project, in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. 

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 The Persistence of Minimalism: A Theory of Miniamlist Aesthetics (Bloomsbiry, 2015). In January 2012, he was appointed a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a post which he left in July 2012 to take up his present position. 

His research is focused in three specific areas, all grounded in modern and contemporary literary and cultural studies: minimalism, cosmopoetics, and fragility. In general, his research is situated at the intersection of cultural theory and contemporary aesthetic practice, often spanning literature, music, visual and intermedia arts. 

His recent and future reseach is focused in two related areas. The first addresses problems of futurity, transition and change as they continue to define new practices in literary studies and the humanities more generally. The second is centred on concepts of fragility and precarity.Preliminarily entitled Fragile Events , it examines the relationship between fragility and event, and explores examples of radically fragile constellations in the fields of political and cultural theory and practice, ecopoetics and radical ecology, queer theory and poetics, and contemporary literature 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), as well exsiting and prospetive relationship between digital cultural and ecocriticism. He continues to investigate all types of minimalism, invesitgating canonical figures such as Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Carver and Robison, alongside a new generation of minimalist writers of electronic literature and flash fiction.

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: The Expanding Worlds of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Palgrave, 2015). 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, expanding on current ecopoetical models. 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, Critical Transitions: Genealogies and Trajectories of Change (Bloomsbury, 2016) with Patricia Waugh, and editing a special issue of the journal English Academy Review (Routledge/Unisa) on "Fragile Futures" (October, 2014).