Prof Steven Connor, Peterhouse



Biographical Information

I studied for a BA and DPhil in English at Wadham College, Oxford from 1973 onwards, gaining my DPhil in 1980. I became Lecturer in English at Birkbeck College, London in 1980, where I was Professor of Modern Literature and Theory from 1994. From 2003 to 2012, I was Academic Director of the London Consortium Graduate Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies. I have been Grace 2 Professor of English in Cambridge since 2012 and, since 2018, Director of CRASSH.

Research Interests

My research interests usually have their rise in the literature and culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though most turn out to have a longer historical contour. My areas of interest have included magical thinking; the history of medicine; the cultural life of objects and the material imagination; the relations between culture and science; the philosophy of animals; the body, sense and sexuality; literature, numbers and economics; literature and technology; the history of sound, voice and auditory media; the sociopragmatics of collective feeling and fantasy; and the developing, that is, currently imaginary field of psychosocioendocrinology. I have also written on contemporary art for Cabinet, Tate Etc, Modern Painters and others, and broadcast for radio almost whenever I am asked. For the last few years, I have been taken up with matters of psychosocial rhetoric. My most recently published books are Dream Machines (London: Open Humanities Press, 2017), about the history of imaginary machines and mechanisms, which is part of the Technographies series I coedit for Open Humanities Press; The Madness of Knowledge: On Wisdom, Ignorance and Fantasies of Knowing (Reaktion/University of Chicago Press, 2019), a psychopathology of intellectual life; and Giving Way: Thoughts on Unappreciated Dispositions (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019), about nonagential behaviours and actions of nonassertion, like abstinence, surrender and apology. I have recently been working on Nathaniel Fairfax, a seventeenth-century physician and Royal Society correspondent and author of A Treatise of the Bulk and Selvedge of the World (1674), a metaphysics of time and space which eschews all words of Latin origin. A History of Asking, a book about begging, praying, pleading, wishing, wooing, suing, supplicating, seducing, and other forms of petitory practice, is on its way out from Open Humanities Press. Having recently completed Seriously,Though, a study of the stylistics of seriousness, I have commenced operations on The Phantasmatics of Work

Areas of Graduate Supervision

Nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature and its contexts; literary and cultural theory; modern art; visual and material culture; literature and economics; medical humanities; animal studies; voice and sound studies; the body and senses; culture, science and technology; collective excitement; sociopragmatics.

Selected Publications

These are my publications since 2014. The links given are mostly to the versions on my website,, which provides a full list of my publications, along with the texts of unpublished essays, broadcasts and lectures.


Beyond Words: Sobs, Hums, Stutters and Other Vocalizations (London: Reaktion/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Beckett, Modernism and the Material Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Living By Numbers: In Defence of Quantity (London: Reaktion/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Dream Machines (London: Open Humanities Press, 2017)

The Madness of Knowledge: On Wisdom, Ignorance and Fantasies of Knowing (London: Reaktion/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019)

Giving Way: Thoughts on Unappreciated Dispositions (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019)


'Rustications: Animals in the Urban Mix', in The Acoustic City, ed. Matthew Gandy and B.J. Nilsen (Berlin: Jovis, 2014), pp. 16-22

‘Spelling Things Out’, New Literary History, 45 (2014): 183-97

‘ “Was That a Point?” Beckett’s Punctuation’, in The Edinburgh Companion to Beckett and the Arts, ed. S.E. Gontarski (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp. 269-81

'Scilicet: Kittler, Media and Madness', in Kittler Now: Critical Perspectives in Kittler Studies, ed. Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury (Cambridge and Malden MA: Polity, 2015), pp. 115-31

'Guys and Dolls'Women: A Cultural Review, 26 (2015): 129-41

‘Literature, Technology and the Senses’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature, ed. David Hillman and Ulrika Maude (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 177-96

‘Choralities’, Twentieth-Century Music, 13 (2016): 3-23

'Vocus Pocus', in This Is A Voice: 64 Exercises to Train, Project and Harness the Power of Your Voice,  ed. Jeremy Fisher and Gillyanne Kayes (London: Profile, 2016), pp. 6-16

'Numbers It Is: The Musemathematics of Modernism', in Moving Modernisms: Motion, Technology, and Modernity, ed. David Bradshaw, Laura Marcus and Rebecca Roach (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 98-109

'The Game of Work: Ai Weiwei and Wittgenstein', Ai Wewei: Cubes and Trees (Cambridge: Heong Gallery, Downing College, 2016), pp. 23-7

'Decomposing the Humanities', New Literary History, 47 (2016): 275-88. Reprinted in Latour and the Humanities, ed. Rita Felski and Stephen Muecke (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), pp. 158-74

‘How To Do Things With Writing Machines’, Writing, Medium, Machine: Modernist Technographies, ed. Sean Pryor and David Trotter (London: Open Humanities Press, 2016), pp. 18-34

'The Return of Finitude', Textual Practice, 30 (2016): 1165-6

‘Modernism After Postmodernism’, The Cambridge History of Modernism, ed Vincent Sherry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 820-34

'Two-step, Nerve-tap, Tanglefoot: Tapdance Typologies in Cinema', in Sounding Modernism: Rhythm and Sonic Mediation in Modern Literature and Film, ed. Julian Murphet, Helen Groth and Penelope Hone (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), pp. 211-27

 'Acousmanie' [in French], trans. Marie Verry, in Max Feed: Oeuvre et héritage, ed. Daniele Balit, special issue hors-série, Revue d'ailleurs (Besançon) (2018), 67-72

'Unwired', Dirty Furniture. 4 (2018): 136-43

'Telling the Future', Cabinet, 65 (2018): 69-71

‘Parables of the Para-’, in Parasites: Exploitation and Interference in French Thought and Culture, ed. Matt Phillips and Tomas Weber (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018), pp. 13-29

'The Matter of Beckett's Facts', Journal of Beckett Studies, 28 (2019): 5-18

‘Imaginary Energies: The Arts of Perpetuity’, in Energies in the Arts, ed. Douglas Kahn (Cambridge MA and London: MIT Press, 2019), pp. 57-85

'Professing', Critical Quarterly, 61 (2019): 41-8

'In Public', in Further Reading, ed. Matthew Rubery and Leah Price (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), pp. 51-61

'Admiring the Nothing of It: Shakespeare and the Senseless', in Shakespeare/Sense: Contemporary Readings in Sensory Culture, ed. Simon Smith (London: Bloomsbury 2020), pp. 40-61

'Datelines', in The Palgrave Handbook of Mathematics and Literature, ed. Alice Jenkins, Robert Tubbs and Nina Engelhardt (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), pp. 513-28


'Scaphander', in Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects, ed. Barbara Penner, Adrian Forty, Olivia Horsfall Turner and Miranda Critchley (London: Reaktion, 2020)

'The Shape of Flusser's Things', in Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism, ed. Aaron Jaffe, Rodrigo Martini and Michael F. Miller (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2021)

'Asphyxiations', SubStance (2022).