Louis Klee, Gonville and Caius

Degree: PhD
Course: CC
Supervisor: Dr Robert Macfarlane
Dissertation Title:

The Constellational Novel


Biographical Information

I am a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College (my more up to date page is here). I was born and educated in Australia. My first degree was a Bachelor of Philosophy in philosophy at the Australian National University. I then did an MPhil and have just handed in a PhD at Cambridge.

Research Interests

My doctoral research set out to explore modern and contemporary prose fiction that has variously been characterised as associative, essayistic, oblique, digressive, densely-patterned, descriptive, and baroque. I was particularly intrigued by the ethical and political claims sometimes made for acts of forming or recognising a connection, association, similarity, pattern, analogy, or relation between things. I am currently developing this into a monograph provisionally titled The Constellational Novel. It begins with Marcel Proust and focuses on a number of novels written over the last three decades by writers such as Jacqueline Rose, W. G. Sebald, Teju Cole, Lisa Robertson, and Olga Tokarczuk. More recently, I am investigating philosophical concepts of affinity, which I envisage as a separate project.

Other research interests include how poets have compared their writing to unemployment, work, or play; philosophy and the history of philosophy; conceptualisations of luck, contingency, and contexture; Walter Benjamin; translation theory; Marx; modern Jewish thought and philosophy; Judith Butler; visual culture, iconoclasm, ekphrasis, painting (in particular Cy Twombly and Gastone Novelli); psychoanalysis, Leo Bersani, Kaja Silverman; and topics in aesthetics in Kant and Wittgenstein.

I also have a strong research interest in the literatures of Australia and New Zealand. In this respect, I am interested in postcolonial studies, provincialism, peripheral and semi-peripheral modernism (and Patrick White), anti-colonial thought and solidarity, what J. M. Coetzee calls ‘literatures of the South’ [‘Literaturas del Sur’], and the history of settler-colonialism. I have published academic articles, book chapters, essays, and interviews on topics such as Yiddish fiction in Australia [online here], Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains [online here], and contemporary poets, such as Michael Farrell [online here] and Ellen van Neerven [online here]. 

With Solange Manche and Joe Davidson, I chair the Cambridge Reading Marx Seminar, which is affiliated with the 'lectures de Marx' seminar at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. We organised this conference funded by CRASSH on contemporary Marxist thought in France and Britain. I am also an affiliated researcher with the Walter Benjamin Research Collective

Areas of Supervision

In the last three years I have supervised undergraduates in the English and Philosophy Faculties. In English, I have supervised 1.1: Practical Criticism and Critical Practice I, 1.7b: English Literature and its Contexts 1870-Present, 2.2: Tragedy, 2.11: Prose Forms 1936-1956, 2.12: Contemporary Writing; 2.16: History and Theory of Literary Criticism, and 2.17: Lyric, and dissertations across Part I and II, with topics such as: queer theory; Amiri Baraka; Roland Barthes; Flann O'Brien and Irish modernism; Ben Lerner; and Anthropocene poetics. In Philosophy, I have supervised for Part IB Paper 05: Early Modern Philosophy.

While I am focusing on research this year, I’m always very happy to hear from students wishing to discuss their academic and creative work.

Selected Publications

I have academic work forthcoming in New German Critique (Fall 2021), Representations (Fall 2022) and The Cambridge Quarterly, and academic work published in Textual Practice, The European Legacy, and the Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook.

I am co-editing The Cambridge Companion to the Australian Novel and I am contributing a chapter to The Cambridge Companion to Australian Poetry. With Anya Topolski, I edited a special issue of The European Legacy dedicated to the themes, thinkers, and central preoccupations of Judith Butler’s Parting Ways. It includes our introductory essay 'Parting Ways or Ways to Cohabitation', my article 'Exilic Alliance', pieces on Arendt, Darwish, Libia Posada, and Paul Gilroy, and an afterword by Butler 'Who Can Still Imagine Co-Habitation?'  

My essays and reviews are in The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), Music & Literature, 3:AM Magazine, The Monthly, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, and other places. I am currently a Juncture Fellow at the Sydney Review of Books.

My poetry has appeared in the TLS, Meanjin, the Australian Book Review, and Best Australian Poems, and other places. I was a UNESCO poet in residence in Kraków, Poland, in 2018.