School of English

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Image of Ben Masters

Ben Masters

Assistant Professor in Literature 1880 to the present, Faculty of Arts



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.

Expertise Summary

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 have written a hybrid work of nonfiction, which combines memoir, literary biography, cultural history and criticism, and nature writing. It is called The Flitting, and will be published by Granta in July 2024.

My literary journalism has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review and New York Times, among other places, and I have discussed my work on BBC Radio and at international literary festivals.

Teaching Summary

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.

Research Summary

I am currently researching the socio-literary circle that emerged from the New Statesman, TLS, New Review and Observer (and associated publications) in the 1970s.

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.

School of English

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900