Christian Gelder, Corpus Christi

Degree: PhD
Course: 1830-PD
Supervisor: Dr Fiona Green
Dissertation Title:

We Other Critics: Verse Science from the Turn of the Century to the Rise of Theory

Biographical Information

From 2010-2013, I read for a B.A. at La Trobe University, and a B.A. (Hons 1) in English and Theatre Studies at The University of Melbourne, where my thesis was awarded the "Professor Morris Prize" for best faculty dissertation. Over the following two years, I completed an M.A. (Res) at The Centre for Modernism Studies, The University of New South Wales. There, I wrote my thesis on the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and mathematics. I am now coming to the end of a PhD at Cambridge, which is funded through a Cambridge International Scholarship. 

Research Interests

From experiments conducted at the Stanford Literary Lab to recent calls for an “ordinary science of literary criticism”, researchers in English have increasingly looked to the sciences to provide new frameworks for textual analysis. But the knowledge exchange between scientific explanation and literary thinking has a long-standing and largely untold history, dating back to turn-of-the-century America. Entitled Verse and its Sciences, 1880-1971, my PhD thesis tells this history. It presents four studies that map how newly operative scientific techniques were brought to bear on the study of poetry. It also shows how a range of racialised, gendered, and institutional ideologies informed those techniques. Thinking about scientific knowledge as both an ideal form and a contingent formation, I place this scientific work against poetry by William Carlos Williams, Laura Riding, George Oppen, and Veronica Forrest-Thomson. I argue that these poets thought their verse could contribute to and ethically alter the fabric of scientific knowledge.

Beyond my thesis, I am also developing another research project entitled Mental-Health Modernism: Experimental Aesthetics and the 'Science of the Soul'. This project examines the impact of the late nineteenth-century “mental hygiene” movement on modernist writing from 1908-1948, pursuing a critical genealogy of the aesthetics and politics of what came to be called “mental health”.

Areas of Supervision

I supervise for Practical Criticism and Critical Practice, Part II, Paper 14: American Literature, Part II, Paper 15: The Ethical Imagination, and Part II, Paper 16: History and Theory of Literary Criticism. I also supervise dissertations across part 1 and 2, mainly on 20th century poetry and/or literary theory. I am always very happy to hear from any students working in my areas of interest.

Selected Publications


Christian R. Gelder & Robert Boncardo, Mallarmé: Rancière, Milner, Badiou (Rowman & Littlefield International: 2017). Reviewed in French Studies, The Sydney Review of Books, Southerly


Journal Articles

“Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s ABC of Atoms: Poetry, Knowledge, Technique”, The Cambridge Quarterly (forthcoming 2022). 

“To Measure is All We Know: William Carlos Williams and the Science of Measurement”, Modernism/modernity (forthcoming 2022).


Book Chapters

“The Age of Poets” in Understanding Badiou, Understanding Modernism, eds. Arka Chattopadhyay & Arthur Rose (Bloomsbury: forthcoming 2022). 

“The Priority of Conditions: On the Relationship Between Poetry and Mathematics in Being and Event” in Badiou and His Interlocutors: Lectures, Interviews, and Responses, eds. A.J. Bartlett & Justin Clemens (Bloomsbury: 2018), 193-208. Co-authored with Robert Boncardo.

“The Murmur of Nothing” in Aesthetics After Finitude, eds. Baylee Brits, Prudence Gibson & Amy Ireland (Re.Press: 2017), 157-169.


Reviews and Introductions

“Review of Jean-Claude Milner, A Search for Clarity: Science and Philosophy in Lacan’s Oeuvre”, Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy  (forthcoming 2022). 

“Review of Nathan Brown, The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science, Materialist Poetics”, Affirmations: Of the Modern, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2019, 113–124 (Review essay).

“Advice to Young Psychoanalysts: Read Mallarmé”, S: Journal for the Circle of Lacanian Ideology Critique, Vol. 9, 2017, 1-15. Co-authored with Robert Boncardo.

“Philosophy or Philology?: Barnaby Norman, Mallarmé’s Sunsets: Poetry at the End of Time”, Colloquy, Vol. 29, 2015, 80-90. (Peer reviewed review essay).



Quentin Meillassoux, “The Coup de dés, Encoded Crypt”, Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics, Vol. 9, No. 4, 2017, 43-86. Co-translated with Robert Boncardo.

Jean-Claude Milner, “The Tell-Tale Constellations”, S: Journal for the Circle of Lacanian Ideology Critique, Vol. 9, 2016, 31-38.

Guillaume Artous-Bouvet, “Of a Latent Prose”, S: Journal of the Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, Vol. 9, 2016, 146-155. Co-translated with Robert Boncardo.

Alain Badiou, “Is It Exact that All Thought Emits a Throw of Dice?”, Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2015, 64-86. Co-translated with Robert Boncardo. Reprinted in S:Journal of the Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, Vol. 9, 2016, 16-30.