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English and Creative Writing

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Dr Jason Baskin

Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature


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My research and teaching interests are in modern and contemporary literature (including fiction and poetry, especially from 1945 to the present); American literature; African American, multiethnic, and contemporary global literature; phenomenology and philosophies of embodiment; Marxism and critical theory; cultural geography and critical urban studies. 

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My research centers on twentieth and twenty-first century literature, primarily from 1945 to the present, and is guided by theoretical engagements with phenomenology, Marxism and critical urban studies. My first book, Embodying Experience: Modernism Beyond the Avant-Garde (Cambridge University Press, 2018) aims to reconfigure critical debate about the postwar “end” of modernism by considering the changing significance of the body after the collapse of revolutionary vanguards. I consider a range of writers—Ezra Pound, Elizabeth Bishop, Ralph Ellison and Raymond Williams—who adapt modernism to a new postwar landscape by developing an aesthetics of embodiment. These authors use ordinary bodily acts such as perception, memory and laughter in order to imagine more capacious conceptions of living and acting in common. Essays related to this project have appeared in Cultural Critique and the edited volume Understanding Merleau-Ponty, Understanding Modernism. I have also published on Tom McCarthy, “surface reading”, neoliberal urbanism, and time in contemporary fiction.

I am currently writing my second book, provisionally titled The Surfaces of Global Capitalism: Planetary Urbanization and Contemporary Literature. This book uses critical urban theory to challenge the assumption that today’s globalized world is fluid, flat or seamlessly interconnected. Foregrounding place, scale and environment (both built and natural), this study ranges across a variety of core and peripheral urban locales—from London, New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles to Mumbai, Lagos and the Yangtze River Delta—and considers works by Lisa Robertson, Zadie Smith, Sesshu Foster, Bhanu Kapil, Teju Cole, Chris Abani and Jia Zhangke, among others, in order to trace the uneven contours of the global city in twenty-first century culture.

Research collaborations

Over the past few years, my research has focused on the intersection of contemporary literature and critical urban studies, and in the process has become increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative.

In 2022, I helped to found Exeter Urban, a cross-disciplinary network I co-lead with Alicia Hayashi Lazzarini and Federico Caprotti in Geography. This group includes more than 90 Exeter staff and students from across the university who research cities and urban life from all disciplinary perspectives. Previously, in 2021, I directed a GW4 community in the Urban Humanities, which brought together scholars from across the South West to consider the role of humanities methods and approaches in urban studies.

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I very much welcome post-graduate students interested in any of the areas listed in my profile. I am especially interested in candidates looking to research: 

  • Contemporary literature and visual culture
  • Modernism and modernist studies
  • The relationship between literature and the city or built environment (especially in, but not limited to, the 20th and 21st centuries)
  • Literature and the body/embodiment (including perception and affect)
  • 20th and 21st century American and African American literature
  • Contemporary world literature and global literary studies
  • Marxism, including Marxist aesthetics, and cultural theory

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2013 |


  • Baskin JM. (2018) "Rhythmic Looking: Elizabeth Bishop's Poetry of Perception", Understanding Merleau-Ponty, Understanding Modernism, Bloomsbury.
  • Baskin JM. (2018) Modernism Beyond the Avant-Garde: Embodying Experience, Cambridge University Press, DOI:10.1017/9781108525961.


  • Baskin JM. (2017) The Surfaces of Contemporary Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture, Johns Hopkins University Press, 86-102.


  • Baskin JM. (2015) "Soft Eyes; Marxism, Surface, and Depth", Mediations: Journal of the Marxist Literary Group, pages 5-18.


  • Baskin JM. (2013) "Romanticism, Culture, Collaboration: Raymond Williams Beyond the Avant-Garde", Cultural Critique, pages 108-136.

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I teach a variety of topics in twentieth and twenty-first literature and literary theory, including Modern Poetry; Twentieth-Century Fiction; the Harlem Renaissance; Global Modernisms; Literature and Embodiment; Cultural Theory; Contemporary Literature and the Global City.

Modules taught

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Originally from Southern California, I joined the University of Exeter in Autumn 2017. Before that, I was Assistant Professor of English at University of Wyoming and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. I received my PhD from Princeton University and BA from Harvard College. I also worked for three years in the Editorial Department (trade) of W.W. Norton & Company publishers.

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