Centre for Studies in Literature


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Dr Ben Davies


Ben Davies is Senior Lecturer in English Literature. He received his MA and PhD from St Andrews, and his MSt from Oxford. He currently serves on the Executive Committee for University English and the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies

Teaching Responsibilities

For the English Literature undergraduate programme, Ben coordinates the Level 6 unit ‘Time, Temporality, Contemporary Fiction’, as well as the L4 unit Unpacking Texts: Introducing Critical Theory’. He also teaches on the following team-taught units: ‘Body Politics’ and ‘Styles and Subversions: Nineteenth Century to the Present Day’. Ben’s teaching focuses on the interrelationship between theory and literature, and it is guided by theoretically informed close reading and attention to form, as well as by student-centred exploration.

Ben welcomes MRes and PhD applicants who have interests in any of the following: modern and contemporary literature; literary theory; Agamben (and/or exceptionality); sex, gender, queer theory; time, temporality and space; narratology. I am currently supervising the following PhD students:

  • Toufik Bouaissa (as first supervisor) on modes of realism in Contemporary Literature
  • David Dickson (as second supervisor) on Holocaust Fiction
  • Lucy Cook (as third supervisor) on Victorian representations of Anne Boleyn


Ben’s research and teaching interests focus on modern and contemporary literature, literary theory and narratology. Ben’s monograph, Sex, Time and Space in Contemporary Fiction: Exceptional Intercoursewas published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016. Taking Giorgio Agamben’s work on states of exception as its point of departure, this book formulates and analyses ‘exceptional sex’ in recent fiction, and complicates the critical tradition of analysing narratives of sex in terms of transgression, as well as attempts to make easy divisions between ‘straight’ and ‘queer’ time. This book also argues for exceptionality to be seen as a critically productive way to analyse narrative time, space, and relations. Ben is also the co-editor of Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), a collected volume that developed out of the AHRC-funded international conference ‘Sexualities In and Out of Time’ (Edinburgh, November 2008).

At present, Ben is working on an edited book volume on the Scottish writer John Burnside, which will be published by Bloomsbury as part of their Contemporary Critical Perspectives series. His other ongoing research includes a book project on dwelling in the works of Ali Smith, and a longer-term project on the history and temporality of literary prequels. This interdisciplinary project will incorporate work on the philosophy of time, recent temporal investigations in physics, and analyses of modern prequels in both literature and film. Ben is a member of the Major Faculty Research Project Celebrities, Fans and Muses: Mapping Cultural Influences, which explores the construction of celebrity in literature, popular culture and society. For Ben’s full research project, see here.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

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