Dr Julia Ng

Staff details

Position Lecturer in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought
Email j.ng (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7078 5003
Website https://cpct.uk
Dr Julia Ng

Convenor MA Modern Literary Theory Pathway, Co-Director, Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought.

Julia Ng specialises in the links between modern mathematics, political thought, and theories of history and language in the 20th century, particularly in the work of Walter Benjamin. She has published archival documents of Benjamin's and Scholem's meta-mathematical engagement with neo-Kantianism in a special issue she co-edited (with Rochelle Tobias) on Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem and the Marburg School, which appeared with Modern Language Notes in 2012. Her research is also concerned with the relation of philosophy to philology in regard to poetic modes of being, thinking, and acting since the 18th century. Other projects include a study of the mathematical infinite in modern German-Jewish thought, and a project on Daoism and capitalism based around Benjamin and Weber’s respective images of China ancient and modern. 

Julia is Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought. She co-chairs the Walter Benjamin London Research Network, and serves on the editorial board of the series Walter Benjamin Studies for Bloomsbury Philosophy, and the scientific board of the forthcoming series Critical Theory for Inschibboleth edizioni. She is also Research Associate of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University.

Julia convenes the Modern Literary Theory MA Pathway. 

Julia received her PhD in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University in 2012, and a joint BA and MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA in 2002. Her doctoral thesis, on Benjamin's mathematical revision of the formal possibility of Kant's perpetual peace project, was awarded the 2013 Charles Bernheimer Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association. Prior to Goldsmiths she was a postdoctoral fellow of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. 


  • MA option module "Crisis and Critique" 
  • MA core module "Theories of Literature and Culture"
  • BA PPE core module "Aesthetics"

Areas of supervision

Julia welcomes expressions of interest from students considering a PhD on topics across the fields of literary theory, Continental philosophy and critical theory, and German and comparative literature, particularly in regard to the reception of the late 18th century in early 20th century thought, politics and poetics, comparative aesthetics and political economy, and Walter Benjamin. 

Research Interests

Julia is working on two book projects. The first, "Conditions of Impossibility," explores the link between the constitution of scientific objectivity and the expression and execution of political power in philosophy, literature and architecture since the seventeenth century. Taking cue from the self-consciously impossible character of Kant's projection of the just society, it argues that fictions and failures accompany and precede every determination of possibility imposed by the self-organization of embodied subjectivity, and ironically make possible alternative theories of political agency that do not rely on the presumption that human beings can build a world in which the protect themselves from every conceivable threat. The second project, "Body, Force, Right: Towards a Literary Theory of Posthumous Life," tracks a change between 1800 and 1900 in the conception of "life" that exceeds what is deemed "possible" for human subjectivity, uncovering a cosmic perspective on the meaning of the word "life"—that is, life at its bare minimum—in the "posthumous work" of Kant, Novalis, Nietzsche, and George.
In addition, Julia is developing a long-term collaborative project on "Mathematics, Philosophy, Literature," which seeks to bring together literary scholars, cultural and political theorists, philosophers, intellectual historians, and historians of science in discussion of the operations of the "mathematical" in concepts of history, objectivity, power, and signification. 


Edited Book

Ng, Julia and Fenves, Peter, eds. 2020. Werner Hamacher. Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503611115

Edited Journal

Ng, Julia and Rochelle, Tobias, eds. 2012. Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, and the Marburg School Modern Language Notes Editors: Julia Ng and Rochelle Tobias Editorial Assistants: J. Brandon Pelcher and Nina Tolksdorff, Modern Language Notes, 127(3). 0026-7910

Book Section

Ng, Julia. 2020. Versing, Ending: Hölderlin in 1971. In: Julia Ng and Peter Fenves, eds. Werner Hamacher. Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503611115

Ng, Julia and Hamacher, Werner. 2020. [Translation] Version of Meaning: A Study of Hölderlin's Late Lyric. In: Julia Ng and Peter Fenves, eds. Werner Hamacher. Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503611115

Ng, Julia and Hölderlin, Friedrich. 2020. [Translation] The Only One. Third Version. In: Julia Ng and Peter Fenves, eds. Werner Hamacher. Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503611115

Ng, Julia. 2017. Gershom Scholem. In: Adam Kotsko and Carlo Salzani, eds. Agamben's Philosophical Lineage. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474423649

Ng, Julia. 2016. '+1'. Scholem e i paradossi dell'infinito. In: Tamara Tagliacozzo, ed. Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem e il linguaggio. Milan: Mimesis. ISBN 978-88-5753-752-8

Ng, Julia. 2016. Justicia (Gerechtigkeit). In: Esther Cohen, ed. Glosario Walter Benjamin: conceptos y figuras. Mexico: UNAM. ISBN 9786070283239

Ng, Julia. 2014. Agamben, Giorgio. In: Michael Kelly, ed. The [Oxford] Encyclopedia of Aesthetics 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ng, Julia. 2009. Descartes Instrument: Geometrischer Raum und die Verschmitztheit militärischer Architekturdarstellungen. In: Butis Butis, ed. Goofy History: Fehler Machen Geschichte. Böhlau-Verlag Gmbh. ISBN 978-3412204266

Ng, Julia. 2009. Translation: “Romantic Politics and Society,” by Ethel Matala de Mazza. Translated from the German by Julia Ng (with Ladislaus Loeb). In: Nicholas Saul, ed. The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism. Cambridge University Press, pp. 191-208. ISBN 9781139002554

Ng, Julia. 2006. The Museum, the Street, and the Virtual Landscape of Berlin. In: Christoph Lindner, ed. Urban Space and Cityscapes: Perspectives from Modern and Contemporary Culture. Routledge, pp. 137-154. ISBN 9780415366533


Ng, Julia. 2019. Rechtsphilosophie after the War: A Commentary on §§4-6 of 'Zur Kritik der Gewalt'. Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory,

Ng, Julia. 2018. Coffee and Donuts. Syndicate Lit, ISSN 2378-1769

Ng, Julia and Hamacher, Werner. 2018. Translation: "The One Right No One Ever Has" by Werner Hamacher. Translated from the German by Julia Ng. Philosophy Today, 61(4), pp. 947-962. ISSN 0031-8256

Ng, Julia. 2018. Now, Hamacher. Philosophy Today, 61(4), pp. 1013-1022. ISSN 0031-8256

Ng, Julia. 2017. Acts of Time: Cohen and Benjamin on Mathematics and History. [Peer reviewed] Paradigmi. Rivista di critica filosofica, special issue on Critical Idealism and Messianism. From Hermann Cohen to Walter Benjamin and beyond, ed. Tamara Tagliacozzo, Reinier Munk, and Andrea Poma, 1, pp. 41-60.

Ng, Julia. 2014. ‘+1’: Scholem and the Paradoxes of the Infinite. Rivista italiana di filosofia del linguaggio, 8(2), pp. 196-210. ISSN 2036-6728

Ng, Julia. 2012. “Über Kant / On Kant” and “Gegen die metaphysische Erörterung des Raumes / Against the metaphysical exposition of space,” by Gershom Scholem. Edited, annotated, translated, and with a critical introduction by Julia Ng. Modern Language Notes: German Issue, 127(3), pp. 440-461. ISSN 0026-7910

Ng, Julia. 2012. Walter Benjamin's and Gershom Scholem's Reading Group Around Hermann Cohen's Kants Theorie der Erfahrung in 1918: An Introduction. Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, and the Marburg School, Special Issue of the Modern Language Notes: German Issue, 127(3), pp. 433-439. ISSN 0026-7910

Ng, Julia and Tobias, Rochelle. 2012. Introduction to the Special Issue: Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, and the Marburg School. Modern Language Notes, 127(3), pp. 427-432. ISSN 0026-7910

Ng, Julia. 2012. Kant's Theory of Experience at the End of the War: Scholem and Benjamin read Cohen. Modern Language Notes, 127(3), pp. 462-484. ISSN 0026-7910

Ng, Julia. 2011. Each Thing a Thief: Walter Benjamin on the Agency of Objects. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 44(4), pp. 382-402. ISSN 0031-8213

Conference or Workshop Item

Ng, Julia. 2017. 'Anhypotheton'. In: American Comparative Literature Association. Utrecht, Netherlands.

Ng, Julia. 2017. 'Surrealism's Political-Theological Afterlife: Benjamin, Blumenberg, Taubes'. In: Workshop on Crises of Meaning and Political Theology. University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Ng, Julia. 2017. 'A Small History of 'Sincerity': Rousseau, Gide, Benjamin'. In: Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory Seminar Series. Cardiff University, United Kingdom.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Sketching the Sky Torn Asunder'. In: Gesture: A Workshop. Warburg Institute, London, United Kingdom 2 Dec 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Nur zu Zeiten: Philology and the Word in Time (Klopstock, Hölderlin, George)'. In: Yale German Department Lecture Series. Yale University, United States 3 Nov 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Daoism and Critical Theory'. In: Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. New York University, United States 31 Oct 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. '“Intellectual history and critical theory,” Panel on “Methodologies” (with Quentin Skinner, Barbara Taylor, Lea Ypi)'. In: London Summer School in Intellectual History. UCL, United Kingdom 7 Sep 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'The Highest Continuity: Philology and the Concept of Time'. In: ICLA. Vienna, Austria 21-27 July 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Sincerity as a Political Emotion (Roundtable discussant)'. In: Concepts of Passions and Politics, Institute of Advanced Studies. UCL, United Kingdom 3 June 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Philologies of the Crisis'. In: Economies of the Crisis, Kandersteg Seminar, Remarque Institute NYU. Kandersteg, Switzerland 13-17 April 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Freiheitszusammenhang: Benjamin and the Theatre of the Irrational'. In: Postgraduate Research Seminar, Department of English. Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom 31 Mar 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2016. 'Benjamin’s Theater of the Irrational.'. In: Theatre of the A-human, Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies. Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany 12-13 Feb 2016.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'Die höchste Kontinuität: Philologie und der Begriff der Zeit'. In: Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik. Shanghai, China 23-31 Aug 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'Acts of Time: Cohen and Benjamin on Mathematics and History'. In: Hermann-Cohen-Gesellschaft Conference on “Critical Idealism and Messianism: From Hermann Cohen to Walter Benjamin and beyond,” University of Rome Tre and University of Turin. Rome, Italy 19-20 Oct 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'Scholem and the ‘Zionistic Point of Mathematics'. In: Society for Contemporary Jewish Philosophy Annual Meeting, Society for Phenomenological and Existential Philosophy. Atlanta, GA, United States 8-10 Oct 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'The Most Precise Tangency: Benjamin and the Lumières'. In: GSA. Washington, DC, United States 1-4 Oct 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'The Poverty in Art'. In: Distinguished Friends of Yonsei University Lecture Series, Underwood International College, Yonsei University. Seoul, Korea, Republic of 3 Sep 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2015. 'The Action of Non-Action: Benjamin, Daoism, and the Image'. In: Daoism and Capitalism: A Workshop.. Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom 10 March 2015.

Ng, Julia. 2014. 'The Poverty in Art'. In: MFA Lecture Series, Department of Art, Goldsmiths. Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom 1 Dec 2014.

Ng, Julia. 2014. 'Drawing and Governance'. In: Myers Symposium in Honor of David Van Zanten, Art Institute of Chicago and Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Chicago, IL, United States 17-18 Oct 2014.

Ng, Julia. 2014. 'Body, Force, Right: figures of life after nature'. In: SEP/FEP 2014: After Nature. University of Utrecht, Netherlands 2-6 Sep 2014.

Ng, Julia. 2013. 'Zettelkästen: Benjamin’s Jean Paul and the Afterlife of the Aesthetic'. In: International Walter Benjamin Congress: On the Concept of History/Writing History. Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany 12-15 Dec 2013.

Ng, Julia. 2013. 'Picturing Pure Power (with Benjamin)'. In: Mathematics, Philosophy, and Literature, Mahindra Humanities Center. Harvard University, United States 11-12 April 2013.