James Brophy

Profile Pic Brophy

I research British literature primarily, focusing on the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth, and on poetry and poetics broadly. I look at modernism’s conflicted relationship to aesthetic experience, especially as it inherits forms of Victorian aestheticism, and consider how the aesthetic might substantiate, instead of distract from, ethical engagement; how it might mitigate ironism; how it might permit and guide forms of post-critique scholarship; how it intertwines with fin-de-siècle theories of experience and personality. I am more recently interested also in determinist tendencies in aestheticism. Some authors I’m currently writing about: Walter Pater, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Mew, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, W. H. Auden and Samuel Beckett.

I have forthcoming articles on the poet Keith Douglas: “The Cynic and Lyric Balanced: The War Dead and the Lyric Beloved” in Twentieth-Century Literature, 66.1 (Spring 2020); and an essay on aesthetics: “Walter Pater, Roland Barthes, and Aesthetic Idiosyncrasy: A Critical Experiment in Paideia,” Paideuma: Modern and Contemporary Poetry, 45 (2019).  I’ve also written about translation theory: “Mandelshtam’s Ovid: Translating Poryv’ into English,” Translation Studies, Vol. 11.3 (2018): 260-279; and on Samuel Beckett: “The Lover’s Endgame in ‘Extreme Solitude’” in Beckett Beyond the Normal, ed. Seán Kennedy (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming); “the things that were told…” The Beckett Circle (Spring 2018), and “The fable of one fabling of one with you in the dark”, The Beckett Circle (Spring 2019).

Recent Papers:

  • “William Empson’s Serious Jokes: Ambiguity, Complex Words, and the Second World War,” British Association for Modernist Studies, London, UK, June 20-22, 2019. 
  • Endmusik: Beckett’s Lyric and the Ends of Personality”, Beckett and the Non- Human, Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium, February 8-9, 2019. 
  • “Aesthetic Education and Lyric Experience: A consideration of Walter Pater and John Dewey,” Literature, Education and the Sciences of the Mind, U. of Kent, UK, July 17-18, 2018.
  • “‘the lover and the killer are mingled’: Combat Gnostisticim & Carnal Knowledge in Keith Douglas,” The Human Body and World War II Conference, University of Oxford, UK, March 22-25, 2018.
  • “Autonomy and Arendtian Cliché: Banality and Monstrosity in Conrad’s The Secret Agent,” on the Joseph Conrad Society of America panel, MLA, New York, January 5-8, 2018.
  • “as if the sex mattered”: Endgame and the Lover’s Discourse,” Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, Saint Mary U., Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 17-20, 2017.
  • “Aaron Fogel’s The Printer’s Error: Piety and the Political in the American 1990s,” National Poetry Foundation’s Poetry & Poetics of the 1990s, Orono, Maine, June 28 – July 1, 2017.
  • “‘A Thought from Propertius’: Yeats and Propertius on the Temporality of Lyric Desire,” at the INSL Situating the Lyric Conference, Boston University, June 7-11, 2017.
  • “Makes Nothing, Survives: A Modernist Poetics between Auden and Beckett” Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, U. of Louisville, February 25, 2017.
  • “Brutal Mobilization and Modernity from Arnold to Auden,” Mobile Communities Graduate Humanities Conference, Tufts University, October 28, 2016.
  • “Imagining Pain: Tennyson’s Patron Saint of Self-Tormentors,” Conference on the Imaginary, Northeastern University, March 4-5, 2016.