Professor Josh Cohen

Josh’s key interests are in psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy, especially Blanchot, Adorno and Benjamin.

Staff details

Professor Josh Cohen


Professor of Modern Literary Theory


English and Creative Writing


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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)

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

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. 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,

Artist's Book

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

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.