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Dr John Bolin

Senior Lecturer in English


01392 725553

Theory of the Novel; Literature and Emotion; Literature and Ethics; The Idea of the Literary; Postcolonial and Twentieth-century American Literature

Research interests

My research focuses on the development of the novel and the status of the literary from the modern period to the present. I am completing my second book project, on J.M. Coetzee among others.

My first book, Beckett and the Modern Novel (Cambridge: 2013) challenges the utility of reading Samuel Beckett's fiction through a narrow philosophical lens. It opens new avenues for understanding Beckett's work – and by extension, the form and significance of the modern novel – by engaging with English, French, German, and Russian literature. Using hitherto unpublished evidence from the major Beckett archives in the US, the UK and Ireland, I reveal Beckett's own preoccupation with what he termed the modern 'European novel': a lineage running from Sade to Stendhal, Dostoevsky, Gide, Sartre, and Celine. 

I have published articles in Modernism/modernity and The Review of English Studies. In 2008 I was awarded The RES Essay Prize for my work on Beckett’s early fiction. From 2009-11 I was the Co-chair of the Samuel Beckett: Debts and Legacies seminar at Oxford. I have been affiliated with the Modernism and Christianity project at the University of Bergen since 2010.


I completed my BA in English at The College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara in 2002. From 2002-4 I was an MPhil student at Exeter College, Oxford, where I was a Clarendon Scholar, Overseas Research Student, and the Amelia Jackson Senior Student. From 2008-11 I was Stipendiary Lecturer in English at Oxford (St Catherine's College and Lincoln College), and the Bamborough Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College, Oxford. I was Lecturer in English at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales before coming to Exeter in August, 2013.

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