Dr Joseph Anderton
Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature
School of English
Joseph Anderton is the author of Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure after the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016), which considers conceptions of the ‘creature’ and ‘creaturely life’ as they appear in Samuel Beckett’s literature and drama. Joe is currently working on his second book, Writing Homelessness: Rough Sleeping in Contemporary British Fiction.
Joseph is the Course Director for BA English Courses. Before joining BCU in 2017, he taught at the universities of Nottingham, Lincoln, and Leicester.
I am currently working on my second book, Writing Homelessness: Rough Sleeping in Contemporary British Literature. This research focuses on comparing fictional and non-fictional accounts of homelessness to uncover the shared and differing depictions of home, family, animal companionship, citizenship, poverty, addiction, mental health, and homeless services to better understand the patterns of literary representation that influence societal perceptions of and responses to homelessness. This research fills a genuine gap in literary criticism on fictional narratives of homelessness and a peer reviewer described it as ‘an excellent innovative and interdisciplinary project. It is socially important work in its own right which furthermore has the potential to become an exemplary instance of a social humanities approach that is one clear way for English Studies to develop in the 21st century’.
Areas of Expertise
- Post-WWII Literature
- Contemporary Ethnofiction
- Literary Animal Studies
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- PhD English, University of Nottingham
- MA English Literature, University of Nottingham
- BA(Hons) English with Creative Writing, University of Hull
I teach on twentieth and twenty-first century literature and poetry at undergraduate level, particularly modernism and its legacies, and multicultural writing from 1945 to the present.
Since my first publication with Cambridge University Press in 2013, I’ve published leading-edge pieces on late modernism, the posthuman, animal literary studies, and ecocriticism, as well as a variety of authors (including Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, J.M. Coetzee, D.H. Lawrence, and Paul Auster) and theorists (including Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jean Baudrillard). These research outputs have been accessed in 52 countries globally according to academia.edu.
My monograph, Beckett’s Creatures examines how Beckett invents ‘creaturely’ author-narrators and narrative modes replete with epistemological and expressive failures, which act as an appropriate aesthetic response and pertinent reflection of the destabilised human condition and precarious status of art in Europe after the Holocaust. The book received excellent reviews: it ‘shines a welcome interpretive light into the darkness’ (Chester 2017), ‘through a series of sharp and sophisticated readings’ (Tranter 2016) to offer a ‘persuasive answer’ (Pattie 2016).
A recent substantial research article, ‘Vegetating Life and the Spirit of Modernism’, was published in the authoritative international journal ‘Modernism/Modernity’, published by John Hopkins University Press (top 12 THE World University Rankings). This essay makes the case for Franz Kafka’s and Samuel Beckett’s work as examples of ‘vegetating life’, a term that conjures both activity and stasis to develop a specific characterization of ‘late modernism’ as a literary style. A peer reviewer praised the essay for its persuasiveness and clarity, remarking that ‘the arguments and readings of the article are engaging and convincing. Framing the discussion with an impressive set of references, both philosophical and scholarly, the article is laid out on a solid foundation and shows convincingly that “vegetating life” is a highly relevant figure/concept’.
Other work on Beckett includes an analysis of the human-nonhuman proximity in Beckett’s short stories from 1946 (SBTA, Rodopi 2020); on forms of silence as a signature of ‘creaturely life’ in Beckett and J.M. Coetzee (Beyond the Human-Animal Divide, Palgrave 2017); and how the ‘unknowability’ of animals coincides with an epistemological gap in self reflection in Beckett, Kafka and Paul Auster ( Twentieth-Century Literature, 2016)
I also have research interests in the conjunctions between literature, visual media, and popular culture, and have published on stage adaptations, comic books, memes, and video games. More specifically, my work has focused on dehumanisation and anthropomorphism in adaptations of Kafka’s prose and Beckett’s plays in ‘Performance Research’ (Routledge, 2015); cybercultural representations of animals in ‘Screening the Nonhuman’ (Lexington, 2016); and a forthcoming chapter on animal images and human logic in ‘Animals in Detective Fiction’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).
I welcome doctoral research proposals on twentieth and twenty-first century literature, particularly:
- Beckett, Kafka, Coetzee
- Modernist Literature
- Post-WWII Literature
- Literary Animal Studies
- Contemporary Novels (particularly ethnofiction and social realism)
I am currently supervising a doctoral student with colleagues in the School of Art. Project title: Performativity, Embodiment and Encounter: Devising a New Performance Art Language through the Work of Samuel Beckett.
Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure after the Holocaust (London and New York: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2016; paperback 2017)
‘Voices We Don’t Hear About: An Interview with Author Mahsuda Snaith’, C21 Literature (2023) (forthcoming)
‘Imagining Homelessness: Ethnofiction in Marc Auge’s No Fixed Abode and Mahsuda Snaith’s How To Find A Home’, Alluvium, Vol.9, No.4(September 2021)
‘The Post-Millennial Rise of British Homelessness Literature’, Alluvium, Vol.8, No.3(November 2020)
‘‘Living Flesh’: The Human-Nonhuman Proximity in Beckett’s Four Stories, 1946’, Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui. Samuel Beckett and the Nonhuman, ed. by Douglas Atkinson and Amanda Dennis, Vol. 32, No.2 (Rodopi, October 2020)
‘Vegetating Life and the Spirit of Modernism in Kafka and Beckett’, Modernism/modernity, Vol.26, No.4 (John Hopkins University Press, November 2019)
‘Dogdom: Nonhuman Others and the Othered Self in Kafka, Beckett, and Auster’, Twentieth-Century Literature, Vol.62, No.3(Hofstra University Press, September 2016)
‘“Ceremonious Ape!”: Creaturely Poetics and Anthropomorphic Acts’, Performance Research, ‘On Anthropomorphism’, ed. by Richard Allen and Shaun May, Vol.20, No.2 (Routledge, April 2015)
‘Precarity, Precariousness, Poverty, Homelessness and the Literature and Ethics of Responsiveness’, in: Handbook of Literary Criticism and Ethics, ed. by Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteau (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2024) [forthcoming]
‘Animal Image and Human Logos in Graphic Detective Fiction’, in: Animals in Detective Fiction, ed. by Ruth Hawthorne and John Miller (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)
‘Revolt against the Anthropos: The Human-Environment Conflicts in D.H. Lawrence’ in: Modernism and the Anthropocene, ed. by Jon Hegglund and John McIntyre (New York: Lexington, 2021)
‘“the impulse towards silence”: Creaturely Expressivity in Beckett and Coetzee’, in: Beyond the Human-Animal Divide: Creaturely Lives in Literature and Culture, ed. by Roman Bartosch and Dominik Ohrem (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan,2017)
‘Cyberbeasts: Substitution and Trivialization of the Animal in Social Media, Memes and Video Games’, in: Screening the Non/Human: Representations of Animal Others in the Media, ed. by Joe Leeson-Schatz and Amber George (New York: Lexington, 2016)
‘“Hooves!”: The Equine Presence in Beckett’, Beckett and Animals, ed. by Mary Bryden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Review: ‘Is It Ok To Laugh about It? Holocaust Humour, Satire and Parody in Israeli Culture’ by Liat Steir-Livny (Elstree: Vallentine Mitchell, 2017) in: Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3 (London: Routledge, 2020)
Review: ‘Staging Beckett in Great Britain’ ed. by David Tucker and Trish McTighe, (London: Bloomsbury, 2016); ‘Staging Beckett in Ireland and Northern Ireland’ ed. by David Tucker and Trish McTighe (London: Bloomsbury, 2016); and ‘Samuel Beckett’s Theatre in America’ by Natka Bianchini (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2015) in: Journal of Beckett Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017)
Review: ‘Samuel Beckett: Debts and Legacies. New Critical Essays’, ed. by Peter Fifield and David Addyman (London: Methuen Drama, 2013) in: Journal of Beckett Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015)
Review: ‘Why We Laugh: A New Understanding’ by John Charles Simon (Carmel, IN: Starbrook, 2008), in: European Journal of Humour Research, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2014)