Department of English
Phone: +1 401 863 3733
bewes at brown.edu
I have research interests in contemporary British/American fiction, aesthetic theory, poststructuralist and Marxist literary theory, postmodernism and postcolonialism, and the politics and ethics of literary form.
Before beginning at Brown in 2004, Timothy Bewes held teaching and research positions at Sussex University, the University of North London, Liverpool John Moores University, Brandeis, and, as a visiting professor, at Brown. He was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Pembroke Center at Brown in 2003-04. He has written three books, Cynicism and Postmodernity (Verso 1997); Reification, or The Anxiety of Late Capitalism (Verso 2002); and The Event of Postcolonial Shame (Princeton UP, 2011). He has also coedited several collections of essays, Cultural Capitalism (Lawrence and Wishart 2001, with Jeremy Gilbert), and Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence (Aesthetics, Politics, Literature) Continuum, 2011, with Timothy Hall), as well as a special issue of New Formations titled After Fanon (2002). His articles have appeared in such journals as New Left Review, New Literary History, Parallax, Genre, Differences, Twentieth Century Literature and Cultural Critique. He has served on the editorial board of the journal New Formations since 1998, and as an editor of Novel since 2005.
Over the past few years, my writing and research have turned away from questions focused on the "politics of literature," and have begun instead to address the categories that are presupposed in that relation: not only "politics" and "literature" themselves (and closely-related categories such as "ethics" and "aesthetics"), but more basic concepts such as the contemporary, perception, subjectivity, the event, the frame, materiality, the body, and reading. I have published a number of articles dealing with these terms, as well as with theorists working at the intersection of the philosophy of literature, literary criticism and aesthetics, including Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, and writers such as Paul Auster, Flannery O'Connor, Dennis Cooper, Kazuo Ishiguro, W. G. Sebald and Jean-Philippe Toussaint.
My current larger project attempts to extend and consolidate these readings into an theoretical analysis of the contemporary novel. In response to recent developments in the practice of fiction and criticism, this project will make use of an emergent set of terms and concepts in order to approach the formal preoccupations of the contemporary novel. Drawing on earlier studies such as Mikhail Bakhtin's Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics and Lukács's Theory of the Novel, this project will attempt to re-conceptualize the novel not as a form, but as a logic and a mode of thought, predicated upon a discrepancy between, in Lukács's words, "the conventionality of the objective world and the interiority of the subjective one." The most important implication of this re-conceptualization is the displacement of the category of representation by that of the event or ontology of the work. A number of questions are thereby brought into play as the proper concern of literary studies: What takes place in the work of fiction? Who or what speaks in the work? Is it possible to think of the materiality of the work separately from its "ideational" qualities? What does it mean to "read" the text? Such questions have always been present in literary studies, but they attain a new urgency and centrality in contemporary literary and critical practice, where the very boundaries of the work are being re-negotiated, and a new relation between criticism and writing forged, one of complicity rather than tension or antagonism.
DPhil. University of Sussex 1996. M.A. University of Sussex 1993. B.A. (Hons) University of North London 1992.
Brown University, MA ad eundum, 2008
Faculty Fellowship, Cogut Humanities Center, Brown University, spring 2007
Carol G. Lederer Postdoctoral Fellow, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University, 2003-04
Malcolm S. Forbes Fellow, Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, 2003-04
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Literature and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University, UK, 1999-2002
Modern Language Association
American Comparative Literature Association
Modernist Studies Association
Timothy Bewes teaches courses in twentieth century and contemporary fiction, critical theory, postmodernism, and aesthetics.