UCL English


Dr Benjamin Dawson

Email: benjamin.dawson@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 7322
Internal phone: 37322
Office: Foster Court 213



Education and Experience 

Following a BA in English at Durham and MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, I completed my PhD at the London Consortium (a graduate school comprising Birkbeck, TATE, the ICA, and the Architectural Association). I then spent four years in Germany, first as a research fellow at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry and then as a postdoctoral academic assistant in the Faculty of Media at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Before moving to UCL, I had teaching positions at Queen Mary and King’s College London.

Research Interests

My research concerns various encounters between literature, philosophy and the natural sciences in the eighteenth century and Romantic period. I’m interested, for instance, in the interplay between narrative techniques and procedures of scientific observation (Buffon, Haller, Priestley and others), in practices of self-experimentation (Beddoes, Davy, Ritter and others), in the concepts of ‘semblance’ developed in optical research and in transcendental philosophy/phenomenology (Lambert, Kant, Hegel), and in the metaphysical and medial foundations of the sentimental novel (esp. Sterne).


Force and Observation: Hegel’s Historical Epistemology (Leiden: Brill, ‘Critical Studies in German Idealism’, under contract)

Self-Experimentation: Romantic Research Machines from Priestley to Ritter (manuscript in preparation)


Articles and Chapters in Books

‘Mysticism’ in Daniel Whistler (ed.), Edinburgh Critical History of Nineteenth-Century Christian Theology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 320-338.

‘Science and the Scientific Disciplines’ in Paul Hamilton (ed.) Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 684-710.

‘Bacon / Böhme . . Hegel – James’, Slovenian trans. by Maja Lovrenov in Mladen Dolar (ed.), 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 Unipop (ed.), Pensamento Crítico Contemporâneo (Edições 70, Lisboa: 2014), pp. 32-46.

 ‘Cognition/Volition: Two Figures of the Human in the Age of Experimental Systems’, in Christoph F. E. Holzhey (ed.), Multistable Figures: On the Critical Potentials of Ir/Reversible Aspect-Seeing (Wien: Turia & Kant Verlag, ‘Cultural Inquiry’, 2014), pp. 113-140.

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

‘Worldmaking as Fate’, in V. Nünning, A. Nünning, and B. Neumann (eds), Cultural Ways of Worldmaking: Media and Narratives (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. Jeff Fort (Zone Books, 2007).]