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Robert Eaglestone (born 1968) is a British academic and writer. He is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought in the Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London. He works on contemporary literature, literary theory and contemporary European philosophy, and on Holocaust and Genocide studies. In 2014, Eaglestone was the recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship, among the highest awards for pedagogy at university level in the United Kingdom.[1]


Robert Eaglestone
Born1968 (1968) (age 51)
OccupationProfessor of Contemporary Literature and Thought
OrganizationRoyal Holloway, University of London
Known forliterary theory, contemporary fiction, ethics
Notable work
Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students, The Holocaust and the Postmodern
AwardsNational Teaching Fellow

His work explores how literature ‘thinks’, especially in relation to issues of ethics. This was the subject of his first book, Ethical Criticism: Reading After Levinas, on literary theory and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. This focus on ethics broadened to a concern with ethical relationships to the past, centrally the Holocaust, other genocides and atrocities, in The Holocaust and the Postmodern. His work draws on memory studies and trauma studies, as well as on the thought of Jacques Derrida and Hannah Arendt.

He works widely on contemporary literature, including Salman Rushdie and J. M. Coetzee and is the author of Contemporary Literature: A Very Short Introduction. In that book he writes:

Literature thinks. Literature is where ideas are investigated, lived out, explored in all their messy complexity… Perhaps… ‘think’ is not the right word: ‘think’ is too limiting a description of the range of what a novel can do with ideas. In any event, the way literature thinks is bound up with what it’s like to be us, to be human. Literature is how we make ourselves intelligible to ourselves. And contemporary fiction matters because it is how we work out who we are now, today.[2]

He is also concerned with the teaching of literature. He has written the textbook, Doing English, a Guide for Literature Students; edits a series of books introducing major thinkers, Routledge Critical Thinkers,[3] and is a commentator in the national press on literature teaching [4] at school and in Higher Education.[5]

He lives in Brixton, London, and has two children.

Published booksEdit

  • Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students third revised edition (London: Routledge, 2009, ISBN 978-0415496742) Japanese translation 2003. Arabic translation 2013.
  • The Holocaust and the Postmodern (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0199239375). Japanese translation 2013.
  • Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2001). Slovak translation, 2001; Turkish Translation, 2002; Japanese Translation 2004; Greek translation 2013.
  • Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students (London: Routledge, 1999).
  • Ethical Criticism: Reading After Levinas (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0748609550)

As editor and co-editorEdit

  • with Gert Buelens and Sam Durrant The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism (London: Routledge, 2013)
  • with Martin MacQuillan, Salman Rushdie: Bloomsbury Contemporary Critical Perspectives (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)
  • Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Literary and Cultural Theory Volume 2 (1966 to Present day) (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010).
  • with Elleke Boehmer and Katy Iddiols J.M. Coetzee in Context and Theory (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • with Simon Glendinning, Derrida's Legacies: Literature and Philosophy (London: Routledge, 2008)
  • with Barry Langford Teaching Holocaust Literature and Film (London: Palgrave, 2008)
  • Reading The Lord of the Rings (London: Continuum, 2005)


  1. ^ Grove, Jack (2014-06-12). "National Teaching Fellows announced". Times Higher Education. TLS Group. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  2. ^ Contemporary Fiction: a very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 1.
  3. ^ Renfrew, Alastair. "Critical Thinkers (Book Series)". Routledge. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  4. ^ Louise Tickle. "Do Michael Gove's GCSE changes pose a threat to English literature in schools?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  5. ^ Fernando Gil Díaz (2013-10-31). "English: why the discipline may not be 'too big to fail'". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-02-17.