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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 of Work Package 5 in Tipping Points Research Project

(email at m.j.botha@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

Marc Botha is Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Theory in the Department of English Studies at Durham University.

Prior to turning full-time to academia, I taught and performed widely as a classical saxophonist in South Africa while completing my undergaduate and MA studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I first came to Durham as a Doctoral Fellow in 2006, and completed my doctorate in 2011 under the supervision of Patricia Waugh. In 2012 I was appointed Lecturer in English at the University of Pretoria, and was subsequently seconded as a research associate to the Leverhulme Trust Tipping Points project hosted by Durham’s Institute for Hazard Risk and Resilience. I was appointed to my current position as Lecturer in the Department of English Studies in 2016, and am also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

My research interrogates the intersection of critical theory, modern and contemporary literature, and interdisciplinary aesthetics. It focuses on elaborating particular concepts – minimum, event, vulnerability, fragility, object, encounter, end – and the ways these concepts travel between histories, places, cultures and media. These concepts are put to work in three separate but interrelated areas: minimalism; fragility and vulnerability studies; and queer ecologies.

1. Minimum and Minimalism:

My earlier work in minimalism centred on developing a general theory of minimalism applicable to literature, music and the visual arts, and able to map the relation of minimalism to broader questions of realism, multiplicity, phenomenology, object-oriented ontology, and deconstruction. Although I examine a transhistorical range of works, writers of particular interest include Samuel Beckett, Raymond Carver, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Robert Lax. My ongoing work in this area addresses microfiction, Concrete and intermedia poetry, and the possible intersections of minimalist, queer and decololonial aesthetics.

2. Fragility and Vulnerability Studies:

I am interested in a range of aesthetic, theoretical and political interrogations of vulnerability and fragility. These are focused through a sustained concern with the tensions between embodiment and viscerality on the one hand, and disappearance and trace on the other. I am currently exploring these idea in to adaptations of fragile and risky archives such as encountered in Stephen Watson’ and Antjie Krog's adaptation of indigenous Southern African /Xam! poetry, Rob Halpern's tetralogy, culminating in Common Place, and the work of polymath Meredith Monk. 

3. Queer Ecologies:

Drawing on ongoing work on fragility and vulnerability, I am particularly concerned with the ways in which radical queer poetics, broadly conceived, complicates received understandings of ecology, world-making, and emergence. Under the broad banner of Queer Apocalypse, I draw on an eclectic archive to examine how queer ecologies disrupt clear distinctions of beginning and end, offering glimpses of futures beyond the gravity of reproductive futurism, and providing tools for rethinking co-emergence in genuinely radical terms to challenge the normative configurations of power.

My research in these and related fields is represented in a monograph, A Theory of Minimalism (Bloomsbury, 2017), a special issue of English Academy Review addressing “Fragile Futures” (Routledge, 2014), two co-edited collections, Cosmopoetics: Rethinking the Worlds of World Poetry and Poetics with Heather Yeung (Palgrave, 2017), and Critical Transitions: Genealogies and Trajectories of Change with Patricia Waugh (Bloomsbury, 2017). I have published a number of chapters in volumes including the Time: Limits and Constraints (Brill, 2010), Weeds and Viruses: Ecopolitics and the Demands of Theory (WVT Trier, 2015) and The Cambridge Companion to the English Short Story (CUP, 2016); and have articles published or forthcoming in journals including American Literary History, English Academy Review, Textual Practice, Oxford Literary Review, Postmodern Culture, Cultural Dynamics, and Parallax.

I would welcome enquiries from potential research students in any of my research areas, and, more broadly, in the fields of critical and cultural theory, queer theory, contemporary literature, and interdisciplinary approaches to literary study.

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