BA and MSt (Oxford); PhD (Cambridge)
I joined the School of English in 2017. Prior to this I was a Lecturer at the Open University and a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have taught both literature and creative writing.
My research encompasses prose writing from the nineteenth century to the present day, with a particular focus on the long post-war to present period. I take a broad interest in aesthetics and am especially interested in the ethical and philosophical possibilities of style. My monograph, Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction since the 1960s (Oxford University Press, 2017), examines the ethical affect of so-called excessive writing in the post-war to present period, with chapters on Anthony Burgess, Angela Carter, Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, Nicola Barker and David Mitchell, and addresses the ethical turn in contemporary literary criticism. I've also written on Ali Smith, H. G. Wells, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan, among others.
I also write fiction. My first novel, Noughties, was published by Penguin and Hamish Hamilton in the UK and Hogarth (Crown) in the US, and I am working on my second at present. I review and write on literature regularly in the national press, most frequently for the Times Literary Supplement and Literary Review, as well as the Guardian, New York Times and NPR. I have discussed my work at a variety of literary festivals and public events, and on BBC radio.
I teach widely on modern and contemporary literature. Presently I contribute to the following modules:
Studying Literature; Victorian and Fin de Siecle Literature 1830-1910; Dark Futures, Tainted Pasts (Gothic and Dystopian Literature); Contemporary Fiction; Literature and Popular Culture; Modern and Contemporary Literature; Academic Community.
Literary Histories; Literature in Britain post-1950; What is Literature?; Approaches to Text.
I welcome proposals from potential PhD students on fiction of the post-war to present day period, literary style, ethical criticism, and the relationships between creative and critical practice.
I am currently working on several projects, including an edited collection of essays on the re-emergence of style as a prominent critical topic; the confluences between H. G. Wells's early writing… read more
BEN MASTERS, ed., 2021. 'Style', a special issue of Textual Practice 35(6).
BEN MASTERS, 2021. 'The New Stylism' Textual Practice. 35(6), 901-919
BEN MASTERS, 2021. 'Adjustment-Style: From H.G. Wells to Ali Smith and the Metamodern Novel' Textual Practice. 35(6), 967-995
BEN MASTERS, 2020. Indie Style: Nicola Barker and a Turn-of-the-Century Aesthetic. In: BERTHOLD SCHOENE, ed., Nicola Barker: Critical Essays Glyphi. (In Press.)
I welcome interest from prospective doctoral students engaging with any of the following broad areas: post-war and contemporary fiction, the modern novel, style, ethical criticism.
I am currently working on several projects, including an edited collection of essays on the re-emergence of style as a prominent critical topic; the confluences between H. G. Wells's early writing and contemporary fiction (particularly Ali Smith); and the meaning of the 'novelistic'. I am also working on a novel.
My next big project will be a major group biography of the socio-literary circle that emerged from the New Statesman, TLS, New Review and Observer (and associated publications) in the 1970s and would go on to headline the British literary scene of the ensuing decades.