Alex Calder, Selwyn

Degree: PhD
Course: English
Supervisor: Dr Jenny Bavidge
Dissertation Title: Alterity and Artfulness in the Fiction of Ali Smith

Biographical Information

I completed an MA (Hons) in English at the University of Aberdeen in 2018 for which I was awarded the Lucy Fellowship for the highest first-class honours in my cohort. Subsequently, I was awarded the LLC Masters Scholarship at the University of Edinburgh, where I completed an MSc in Literature and Modernity and graduated with Distinction in 2019.

Research Interests

My PhD research is a sustained analysis of Ali Smith's complete body of work and the significance of her literary innovations. I argue that Smith's emphasis on alterity and artfulness has an inherently ethical and political value, prompting readers towards a critical recognition of others and shared vulnerabilities in an increasingly globalised and precarious world. I contend that her work has all the aesthetic innovation and playfulness of postmodernism but with an ethical urgency and attention to relational dependency. Precisely through language games, metafiction, and intertextuality, Smith demonstrates the capaciousness of art and literature through a politics of compassion and an ethics of care.

Further areas of interest include: intertextuality in contemporary literature; aesthetics and ethics; feminist theory; ecocriticism; modernism and postmodernism; contemporary women's writing; 21st century fiction and poetry.

Additional authors of interest: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sara Baume, Emily Dickinson, Lucy Ellmann, Jenni Fagan, Jackie Kay, Olivia Laing, Katherine Mansfield, Ovid, Max Porter, Claudia Rankine, Arundhati Roy, Namwali Serpell, Zadie Smith, Muriel Spark, Olga Tokarczuk, Eley Williams, Virginia Woolf.

Selected Publications

"Artfulness: Intertextuality, Wordplay, and Precariousness in Contemporary Experimental Fiction." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (2021). DOI: 10.1080/00111619.2020.1865256

"'The great connective': Contemporaneous Storytelling and Emergent Seriality in Ali Smith’s Seasonal." Alluvium, Vol. 7, No. 6 (2019): https://www.alluvium-journal.org/2019/12/16/contemporaneous-storytelling-and-emergent-seriality-in-ali-smiths-seasonal/

"'Break the Narrative': Metafictional Anthropocene Aesthetics in Jeanette Winterson's The Powerbook and Ben Lerner's 10:04." Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, Vol. 39 (2019): http://community.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate.english/ojs/index.php/pgenglish/article/view/233