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Dr Benjamin Dawson

Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature



I was born in London and took undergraduate and graduate degrees in English literature at Durham and Birkbeck, where I wrote a dissertation on James Joyce. My PhD (London Consortium, 2012) returned to the Romantic period and concerned relations between British Romanticism, German Idealism and the historical epistemology of the European sciences. Before joining QMUL in September 2014, I was a research fellow at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry (2010-12) and postdoctoral researcher at the graduate school ‘Mediale Historiographien’, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (2012-14). I have published articles on, among others, Hegel, Mary Shelley, J. W. Ritter, William James, and contemporary historical epistemology.

Undergraduate Teaching

I am teaching on:


Research Interests:

  • Romanticism and Classical German Philosophy
  • History of the Novel
  • Relations of Literary History and Communication Technologies
  • Historical Epistemology (esp. Foucault)

I work mainly on relationships between literature and science in the Romantic period. My first book, Force and Observation: Hegel’s Historical Epistemology (forthcoming), re-examines the analyses of early modern physics and the newer life sciences in the Phenomenology of Spirit (PhG) in light of recent developments in the intersecting fields of historical epistemology and media historiography. In two sections of the PhG, ‘Force and Understanding’ and ‘Observational Reason’, Hegel offers unexpectedly detailed accounts of the ways an unstable concept of force and a complex rationality of observation have shaped scientific consciousness from early modernity down to his own time. Force and Observation shows how these phenomenological analyses of the sciences are conditioned by Hegel’s own consciousness of the distinctive historiographical, pedagogical, and speculative possibilities of the codex print medium.


‘[]othing’, in Edinburgh Critical History of Nineteenth-Century Christian Theology, ed. by Daniel Whistler (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming)

‘Science and the Scientific Disciplines’, in Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism, ed. by Paul Hamilton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

‘Bacon / Böhme . . Hegel – James’, Slovenian trans. by Maja Lovrenov, ed. Mladen Dolar, Problemi 9-10 (2014), pp. 47-73.

‘Para acabar de vez com as polaridades: algumas glosas em torno do trabalho de Giorgio Agamben’ [‘To Have Done With Polarities: some glosses on the work of Giorgio Agamben’], Portuguese trans. by Elisa de Silva in Pensamento Crítico Contemporâneo, ed. by Unipop (Lisboa: Edições 70, 2014), pp. 32-46

‘Volition/Distinction: Two Figures of the Human in the Age of Experimental Systems’, in Multistable Figures: On the Critical Potentials of Ir/Reversible Aspect-Seeing, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey (Wien: Turia & Kant Verlag, ‘Cultural Inquiry’, 2013), pp. 113-140:

‘Anthropolarity: The Human Economy of Frankenstein’, in Anthropocentrism: Humans, Animals, Environments, ed. by Rob Boddice (Leiden: Brill Academic Press, ‘Human-Animal Studies’, 2011), pp. 133-156:        

‘Worldmaking as Fate’, in Cultural Ways of Worldmaking: Media and Narratives, ed. by V. Nünning, A. Nünning, and B. Neumann (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, ‘Concepts for the Study of Culture’, 2010), pp. 61-86:

‘Profanations’, Critical Quarterly, 51.2 (2009): 102-109. [Review of Giorgio Agamben, Profanations, trans. by Jeff Fort (Zone Books, 2007):

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