Department of English and Comparative Literature

Professor Josh Cohen

Position held:
Professor of Modern Literary Theory

+44 (0)20 7919 7445

j.cohen (

Room 402
4th Floor
Warmington Tower

Office hours:
Wed 14.00-15.00
On leave Summer Term 2012

BA (Hons.) in English, University of Birmingham; MA in American Cultural Studies, University of Exeter; DPhil in American Literature, University of Sussex; Appointed to Goldsmiths in 1996.


Convenor, Pathway in Modern Literary Theory for MA in Comparative Literary Studies. I teach options for the MA on Literature and Philosophy and Freud.

Areas of supervision

Current areas of PhD supervision:

  • Holocaust Literature
  • McSweeney’s Journal
  • Raymond Carver and psychoanalysis
  • 'Posthumous' literature
  • Levinas and de Man
  • 'Phantom limbs' in psychoanalysis and literature
  • Creativity and knowledge in psychoanalysis
  • Poetry and inspiration (joint supervision)
  • Writing and trauma (joint supervision)

Professional activities

  • Member of British Comparative Literature Association, Modern Languages Association of America, Society for European Philosophy, International Association for Philosophy and Literature
  • External examinership for BA in Education Studies, University of Winchester, 2002-2005
  • Organiser of seminar series in Jewish Textualities (1999-2002), and of conferences on Evil and Suffering in Jewish Tradition (2002) and Wallace Stevens (2004).
  • Visiting Scholar, Center for Jewish Studies, University of Harvard, Autumn 1999

Research interests

My key interests are in psychoanalysis (I am a practising clinician as well as an academic), literature and philosophy (especially Blanchot, Adorno and Benjamin), and American literature since the mid-nineteenth century (especially Melville, James, Stevens and contemporary fiction), and much of my work is at the interface of these areas. I’m currently working on a book to be published by Granta called The Private Life, about privacy in psychoanalysis, literature and contemporary culture.

Selected publications

  • How to Read Freud (London: Granta, 2005; US edition W.W. Norton, September 2005)
  • Interrupting Auschwitz : Art, Religion, Philosophy (London and NY: Continuum, 2003)
  • Spectacular Allegories: Postmodern American Writing and the Politics of Seeing (London: Pluto, 1998)
  • Articles
  • '"The strange unlike": Wallace Stevens' Poetics of Resemblance' in B. Eeckhout and E. Ragg (eds.), Wallace Stevens Across the Atlantic (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), pp. 107-118.
  • 'Amnesiac Passages: Melville’s Pierre, Blanchot and the Question of Psychoanalytic Reading' in Synthesis: An On-Line Journal of Literary Theory, No. 2, Fall 2010
  • 'Reflexive Incomprehension: On Lydia Davis', Textual Practice, Volume 24, No. 3, 2010, pp. 501-16.
  • 'The Strangeness in the Strangeness', Static, No. 7, Spring 2008
  • '"I – Not-I": Narcissism Beyond the One and the Other' in A. Gaitanides and P. Curk (eds.), Narcissism: A Critical Reader (forthcoming, London: Karnac, 2007)
  • 'Roth’s Doubles' in T. Parrish (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Philip Roth (Cambridge: CUP, forthcoming November 2006) pp82-93
  • 'Aesthetic Theory, Psychoanalysis and the Ironic End of Art' in parallax (vol 11, No. 4, Autumn 2005) pp. 52-61.
  • 'Unfolding: Reading After Romanticism' in Walter Benjamin and Romanticism, ed. A.Benjamin and B.Hanssen (London and New York: Continuum Books, 2003), pp. 98-109 and 232-3.
  • '"A Different Insignificance": The Poet and the Witness in Agamben' in Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory (Vol 25, No. 2, July 2002), pp. 36-5.

  • Content last modified: 21 Oct 2011

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