Professor Josh Cohen

Staff details

Position Professor of Modern Literary Theory
Email j.cohen (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7445
Professor Josh Cohen

Academic qualifications

  • BA (Hons.) in English, University of Birmingham
  • MA in American Cultural Studies, University of Exeter
  • DPhil in American Literature, University of Sussex


Professor Josh Cohen is the Convenor for Pathway in Modern Literary Theory for MA in Comparative Literary Studies. He teaches options for the MA on Literature and Philosophy and Freud.

He was appointed to Goldsmiths in 1996.

Areas of supervision

Josh has supervised 11 PhDs to successful completion in the areas of American Literature, Literary Theory, Psychoanalysis and Holocaust Writing. He has been an Internal or External Examiner for 23 PhD theses.

Current areas of PhD supervision:

  • The figure of the child in the work of Maurice Blanchot
  • The idea of the posthumous in modern and contemporary literature
  • Kafka and Language Mysticism
  • Drawing and unconscious knowledge
  • Paul Auster and philosophies of solitude
  • ‘Parafiction’ in contemporary art and literature
  • ‘Phantom limbs’ in psychoanalysis and literature
  • Poetry and inspiration (joint supervision)
  • Realism and the short story (joint supervision)

Research Interests

Professor Josh Cohen's key interests are in psychoanalysis (he is 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 his work is at the interface of these areas. Professor Josh Cohen's book, The Private Life, addressed issues of privacy in psychoanalysis, literature and contemporary culture.

Professor Josh Cohen is currently working on a book on the place of inertia and lassitude in the history of culture and ideas. 


Publications and research outputs


Cohen, Josh. 2019. Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. London: Granta. ISBN 9781783782062

Cohen, Josh. 2014. The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1847085306

Cohen, Josh. 2005. How to Read Freud. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1862077638

Cohen, Josh. 2003. Interrupting Auschwitz: Art, Religion, Philosophy. Continuum. ISBN 9780826455512

Cohen, Josh. 2003. Interrupting Auschwitz: Art, Religion, Philosophy. London and New York: Continnuum-3PL. ISBN 978-0826455512

Cohen, Josh. 1998. Spectacular Allegories: Postmodern American Writing and the Politics of Seeing. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0745312071

Book Section

Cohen, Josh. 2017. Psychic Life: A New Focus on Early Infancy. In: Gregorio Kohon, ed. British Psychoanalysis: The Independent Tradition. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 73-87. ISBN 9781138579057

Cohen, Josh. 2017. The Support-Worker's Tale'. In: David Herd and Anna Pincus, eds. Refugee Tales Volume 2. 2 Manchester: Comma Press, pp. 73-83. ISBN 978-1910974308

Cohen, Josh. 2015. 'Psychoanalytic Bodies'. In: David Hillman and Ulrika Maude, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 214-229. ISBN 9781107048096

Cohen, Josh. 2015. Psychoanalytic Bodies: Psychic and “Actual” Bodies in Modern Literature. In: David Hillman and Ulrika Maude, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 214-229. ISBN 978-1107644397

Cohen, Josh. 2014. Bruce Nauman, Jean Laplanche and the Art of Helplessness. In: John Fletcher and Nicholas Ray, eds. Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture. London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, pp. 326-343. ISBN 9781909831087

Cohen, Josh. 2008. 'The Strange Unlike' : Wallace Stevens' Poetics of Resemblance. In: Bart Eeckhout and Edward Ragg, eds. Wallace Stevens across the Atlantic. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 107-118. ISBN 9780230535848

Cohen, Josh. 2007. Roth's Doubles. In: , ed. UNSPECIFIED Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521864305

Cohen, Josh. 2007. Roth's Doubles. In: T. Parrish, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Philip Roth. Cambridge University Press, pp. 82-93. ISBN 9780521864305

Cohen, Josh. 2007. ‘“I-Not-I”: Narcissism Beyond the One and the Other’. In: Anastasios Gaitanides and Polona Curk, eds. Narcissism: A Critical Reader. London: Karnac Books, pp. 31-46. ISBN 978-1855754539

Cohen, Josh. 2006. ‘No Matter: Aesthetic Theory and the Self-Annihilating Artwork’. In: D Rudrum, ed. Literature and Philosophy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Cohen, Josh. 2006. ‘Post-Holocaust Philosophy’. In: Dan Stone, ed. The Historiography of the Holocaust. Palgrave Schol, pp. 469-483. ISBN 978-1403999276

Cohen, Josh. 2002. Unfolding: Reading after Romanticism. In: , ed. UNSPECIFIED Continuum. ISBN 0826460216

Cohen, Josh. 2002. Unfolding: Reading after Romanticism. In: Beatrice Hanssen and Andrew Benjamin, eds. Walter Benjamin and Romanticism. London and New York: Continuum, pp. 98-108. ISBN 0826460216

Cohen, Josh. 2001. ‘Dialectic of Entanglement: Adorno, Auschwitz and the Contradictions of Representation’. In: Holger Briel and Andreas Kramer, eds. In Practice: Adorno, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. Berg: Peter Lang, pp. 15-29. ISBN 978-3906766850

Cohen, Josh. 1998. The Holocaust and Representation: Three Philosophical Perspectives. In: V Viklund, ed. Bilden av Förintelsen. Stockholm: Swedish Film Institute, pp. 47-58.

Cohen, Josh. 1998. ‘James Ellroy, Los Angeles and the Spectacular Crisis of Masculinity’. In: Peter Messent, ed. Criminal Proceedings: The Contemporary American Crime Novel. London: Pluto Press, pp. 160-178. ISBN 978-0745310169


Cohen, Josh. 2022. ‘Something extra’: In defence of an uncanny humanism. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 56(1), pp. 173-179. ISSN 0309-8249

Cohen, Josh. 2020. Coronavirus has exposed the reality of a world without work. The Guardian, ISSN 0261-3077

Cohen, Josh. 2014. The Trouble You Reported. The Times Literary Supplement,

Cohen, Josh. 2014. ‘Private Parts: Writers and the Battle for Our Inner Lives’. New Statesman,

Cohen, Josh. 2014. 'No room for truth': On the Precariousness of Life and Narrative in The Last of the Just. European Judaism, 47(1), pp. 15-25. ISSN 0014-3006

Cohen, Josh. 2010. Reflexive Incomprehension: On Lydia Davis. Textual Practice, 24(3), pp. 501-516. ISSN 0950-236X

Cohen, Josh. 2010. Amnesiac Passages : Melville’s Pierre, Blanchot and the Question of Psychoanalytic Reading. Synthesis, 2, pp. 17-28. ISSN 1791-5155

Cohen, Josh. 2008. The Strangeness in the Strangeness. Static, 7, ISSN 1754-5374

Cohen, Josh. 2008. Review of M. Jay and T. Brennan (eds.), Vision in Context. Textual Practice, 12(2), pp. 349-421. ISSN 0950-236X

Cohen, Josh. 2005. Aesthetic Theory, Psychoanalysis and the Ironic End of Art. Parallax, 11(4), pp. 71-80. ISSN 13534645

Cohen, Josh. 2002. RELIGION AGAINST POLITICS: Versions of the State in modern Jewish thought. Jewish Quarterly, 49(4), pp. 23-28. ISSN 0449-010X

Cohen, Josh. 2002. ‘“A Different Insignificance”: The Poet and the Witness in Agamben’. Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory, 25(2), pp. 36-51. ISSN 0264-8334

Cohen, Josh. 2002. ‘Philosophy and the Holocaust: Representing, Remembering, Thinking’. Jewish Quarterly, 49(3), pp. 73-74. ISSN 0449-010X

Cohen, Josh. 2002. Review of Andrew Benjamin, Philosophy’s Literature. Textual Practice, 16, ISSN 0950-236X

Cohen, Josh. 2001. Desertions: Paul Auster, Edmond Jabès and the Writing of Auschwitz. M/MLA Journal, 33(3), pp. 92-105.

Cohen, Josh. 2001. Review essay on Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer and Remnants of Auschwitz. Textual Practice, 15, ISSN 0950-236X

Cohen, Josh. 1998. ‘“Disgrace of Revelation”: I.B. Singer’s Holocaust Impiety’. Textual Practice, 12(3), pp. 443-457. ISSN 0950-236X

Cohen, Josh. 1998. ‘Phenomenologies of Mourning: Gillian Rose and Walter Benjamin’. Women: A Cultural Review, 9(1), pp. 47-61. ISSN 0957-4042

Cohen, Josh. 1997. ‘Joan Didion, Los Angeles and the Opacity of Urban Spectacle’. Over Here: A European Journal of American Culture, 16(1), pp. 18-29.

Cohen, Josh. 1996. ‘James Ellroy, Los Angeles and the Spectacular Crisis of Masculinity’. Women: A Cultural Review, 7(1), pp. 1-15. ISSN 0957-4042

Cohen, Josh. 1994. ‘The Look of the Sight Machine: Robert Coover and the Question of Cinematic Vision’. Diatribe, 95(4), pp. 12-21. ISSN 1352-4828

Cohen, Josh. 1994. ‘Paris, Texas’ - Review of Jean-Philippe Mathy, Extrême-Occident: French Intellectuals and America. New Formations, 24,

Cohen, Josh. 1993. ‘Film, Postmodernity, Systems in Don DeLillo’s White Noise’. Over Here: A European Journal of American Culture, 13(1), pp. 115-124.

Artist's Book

von Zwehl, Bettina and Cohen, Josh. 2016. Lament.