Professor Julian Murphet

Professor Julian Murphet
 Position Jury Chair of English Language and Literature
 Org Unit English and Creative Writing
 Telephone +61 8 8313 4561
 Location Floor/Room 6.04 ,  Napier ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    I completed my undergraduate work in English at the University of Sydney, before heading to Cambridge for my PhD (1994-8). I then went to Oxford for a postdoc (1998-2002), during which time I also worked as a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley (African-American Studies, 2001). I took up my first academic position back at the University of Sydney (2002-7), where I worked until UNSW offered me a professorship. From 2007-2020 I was at UNSW, eventually appointed as a Scientia Professor in 2015. I was elected as a Fellow to the Academy of the Humanities in Australia in 2013, and to the Australian Research Council's College of Experts in 2019.

    In 2020 I took up the position of Jury Chair of English Language and Literature at the University of Adelaide.
  • Qualifications


    Doctor of Philosophy

    University of Cambridge, Faculty of English, Trinity College conferred July 18, 1998

    Master of Philosophy

    University of Sydney, English Literature conferred April 1996

    Bachelor of Arts


    University of Sydney, English Literature (First Class, University Medal) conferred February 1993


  • Awards & Achievements

    ·        Scientia Professor, UNSW, 2015-2020

    ·        Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities in Australia, 2013-present

    ·        Member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts, 2020-2022

    ·        Membership of Editorial BoardsModernism/modernity (2019- ), The Faulkner Journal (2018- )Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Critique (2013- )

    ·        Junior Research Fellow, St John’s College, Oxford, 1998-2002

  • Research Interests

    Marxism, communism, and the radical imagination


    Cultural and literary theory

    American literature and culture

    Modernism in the arts and literature

    Film theory and history

    Riots in writing

    Race and racialization

    Contemporary writing



    Specific authors: William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Ursula LeGuin, Thomas Pynchon, Keston Sutherland

  • Research Funding

    ARC Discovery Grant, ‘Rioting and the Literary Archive’, 2019-21 ($199,000)

    Research Collaboratives Seed Grant, A&SS, UNSW, 2019 ($15,000)

    School of the Arts and Media Research Grant, UNSW, 2018 ($5,000)

    Arts and Social Sciences Distinguished Visitor Grant, UNSW, 2019 ($10,000)

    School of the Arts and Media Research Grant, UNSW, 2018 ($4,000)

    ARC Discovery Grant, ‘William Faulkner Between Cinema and Literature’, 2009-2011 ($165,000)

    Research-only Professorship, UNSW, 2007-2010 ($150,000 per annum)

    Faculty of Arts Research and Discovery Grant, University of Sydney, 2006 ($20,000)

    Faculty of Arts Seed Funding Grant, University of Sydney, 2005 ($5,000)

    ARC Discovery Grant, ‘Cinematic Imaginations’, 2004-2005 ($75,000)

     Faculty of Arts Start-Up Grant, University of Sydney, 2003 ($5,000)

    Junior Research Fellow, St John’s College, Oxford, 1998-2002 (£21,000 per annum)

    Senior Rouse Ball Scholar, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1997-98 (£8,000)

  • Publications

    Authored Scholarly Monographs


    Todd Solondz, Contemporary Film Directors Series (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2019), 186 pp.

    Films like Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness established Todd Solondz as independent cinema's premier satirist. Blending a trademark black humor into atmospheres of grueling bleakness, Solondz repeatedly takes moviegoers into a bland suburban junk space peopled by the damaged, the neglected, and the depraved. 

    Julian Murphet appraises the career of the controversial, if increasingly ignored, indie film auteur. Through close readings and a discussion with the director, Murphet dissects how Solondz's themes and techniques serve stories laden with hot-button topics like pedophilia, rape, and family and systemic cruelty. Solondz's uncompromising return to the same motifs, stylistic choices, and characters rejects any idea of aesthetic progression. Instead, he embraces an art of diminishing returns that satirizes the laws of valuation sustaining what we call cinema. It also reflects both Solondz's declining box office fortunes and the changing economics of independent film in an era of financial contraction.


    Faulkner’s Media Romance (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 282 pp.

    ·      Paperback edition: January, 2020.

    ·      Winner: Dean’s Research Award, Best Monograph, 2018

    ·      Runner-Up: Australian University Heads of English prize for literary scholarship

    This book treats William Faulkner's major fiction—from Flags in the Dust through to Absalom, Absalom!—to a searching reappraisal under the spotlight of a media-historical inquiry. It proposes that Faulkner's inveterate attraction to the paradigms of romance was disciplined and masked by the recurrent use of metaphorical figures borrowed from the new media ecology. Faulkner dressed up his romance materials in the technological garb of radio, gramophony, photography, and cinema, along with the transportational networks of road and air that were being installed in the 1920s. His modernism emerges from a fraught but productive interplay between his anachronistic predilection for chivalric clichés and his extraordinarily knowledgeable interest in the most up-to-date media institutions and forms. Rather than see Faulkner as a divided author, who worked for money in the magazines and studios while producing his serious fiction in despite of their symbolic economies, this study demonstrates how profoundly his mature art was shot through with the figures and dynamics of the materials he publicly repudiated. The result is a richer and more nuanced understanding of the dialectics of his art.


    Multimedia Modernism: Literature and the Anglo-American Avant-Garde (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 220 pp.

    Multimedia Modernism explores the complex effects of a new media environment on avant-garde literary production in the early twentieth century. During this period, the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky wrote works which, in one way or another, attest to the immense effect that photography, cinematography, mechanical print technology and visual advertising had on the established arts. Re-reading modernism's technological origins through the lens of media theory, this innovative study proposes a serious new methodological approach to modernism in general. Examining a wide range of literature that includes Gertrude Stein's contributions to Camera Work, Louis Zukofsky's groundbreaking poem 'A' and Wyndham Lewis's celebrated Blast, this book embeds literary revolution within media evolution to show that literary criticism and media history have a lot to learn from each other.


    Literature and Race in Los Angeles, Cultural Margins Series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 207 pp.

    Los Angeles is both the most fragmented and the most minoritized metropolis in America, and its most luridly abstract and aestheticized city. With more than eighty-five languages being spoken in its classrooms, and one homogeneous visual language emanating from its entertainment industry, LA radically challenges the prospects of that archaic representational medium: literature. In its investigation of the work of Bret Easton Ellis, James Ellroy, Anna Deveare Smith and others, Literature and Race in Los Angeles articulates their aesthetic preoccupations with the structures of social space in the city. Harnessing some of the theoretical insights of Henri Lefebvre and the ‘LA school’ of geographers, Murphet demonstrates the versatility of literary production in LA and speculates about the fortunes of literature in a predominantly visual culture.


    Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho (New York: Continuum, 2002), 94 pp.


    Narrative and Media, with Helen Fulton, Rosemary Huisman and Anne Dunn, ed. Helen Fulton (Melbourne & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005)


    Edited Scholarly Collections

    7.       E. L. Doctorow: A Reconsideration, edited with Michael Wutz (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019)

    8.       Poetry and Communism: Writing against Capital, edited with Ruth Jennison (London: Palgrave, 2019)

    9.       Sounding Modernismedited with Helen Groth and Penelope Hone (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017)

    10.    Rancière and Literature, edited with Grace Hellyer (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

    11.    Faulkner in the Media Ecologyedited with Stefan Solomon (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 2015)

    12.    Modernism and Masculinityedited with Natalya Lusty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014): finalist MSA prize for best collection, 2015

    13.    Flann O'Brien and Modernismedited with Ronan McDonald and Sascha Morrell (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)
    14.    Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, edited with Mark Steven (London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2012)
    15.    Strong Opinions: J.M Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction, edited with Chris Danta and Sue Kossew (London & New York: Continuum Press, 2011)

    16.    Literature and Visual Technologies, edited with Lydia Rainford (Houndmills: Palgrave Press, 2003)


    Edited Journal Issues

    17.           Affirmations: of the modern (2013-): 6 issues to date

    18.           Twentieth Century Literature, Special Issue: Late Coetzee, eds. Julian Murphet and Chris Danta, 57.1 (2012)


    Scholarly Book Chapters

    19.    “New Visual Media,” in The Cambridge History of American Modernism, ed. Mark Whalan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)—7000 words; contracted September 21, 2018

    20.    “Understanding Quad,” in Beckett and the Media, ed. Mark Nixon and Philipp Schweighauser (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020)—7000 words; contracted April 15, 2019, delivered

    21.     “Marx in the Modernist Novel,” in Understanding Marx, Understanding Modernism, ed. Mark Steven, Understanding Philosophy, Understanding Modernism Series (London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)—7000 words; contracted August 6, 2018, delivered

    22.     Globalism’s Pre-History: Technologies of Modernism,” in The Cambridge History of World Literature, 2 Vols., ed. Debjani Ganguly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)—6000 words, contracted 21 December 2017, delivered

    23.    “‘Wide as Targes Let them Be’, or, How a Poem Is a Barricade,” in Jennison and Murphet, eds., Poetry and Communism: Writing against Capital, edited with Ruth Jennison (London: Palgrave, 2019), pp. 185-207

    24.    “‘A Rearrangement of Molecules’: On Doctorow’s Perpetual Motion Machines,” in Wutz & Murphet, eds., E. L. Doctorow: A Reconsideration (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019), pp. 132-147

    25.    “Modernism and Technology,” in The Bloomsbury Companion to Modernist Literature, eds. Ulrika Maude and Mark Nixon (London: Bloomsbury, 2018) 

    26.     “Character,” in Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Literature, general editor Paula Rabinowitz (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

    27.     “Noises of Modernism,” in Sounding Modernism, eds. Helen Groth, Julian Murphet and Penelope Hone (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), pp. 19-34

    28.     Projecting the Sixties: mediation and characterology in The Catherine Wheel,” in Rediscovering Again: Elizabeth Harrower, eds. Elizabeth McMahon and Brigitta Olubas (Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2017), pp. 107-16 

    29.     “Short Story Futures: New Modes of Transmission,” The Cambridge History of the English Short Story, ed. Dominic Head (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 598-614 

    30.    “Poetry in the Medium of Life: Text, Code, Organism,” in Writing, Medium, Machine: Modern Technographies, eds. Sean Pryor and David Trotter (London: Open Humanities Press, 2016), pp. 208-223

    31.     “A Desire Named Streetcar,” in Moving Modernisms, eds. Laura Marcus and David Bradshaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 275-88

    32.    “Ineluctable Modality of the Sensible: Form and Poverty in Ulysses,” in Rancière and Literature, eds. Grace Hellyer and Julian Murphet (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), pp. 207-25 

    33.    “Lewis and Media,” in The Cambridge Companion to Wyndham Lewis, ed. Tyrus Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 160-71

    34.    “King Kong Capitalism,” in Animal Life and the Moving Image, eds. Michael Lawrence and Laura McMahon (London: BFI, 2015), pp. 153-70

    35.    “Protecting the Nothing that Happens,” in The Values of Literary Studies: Critical Institutions, Scholarly Agendas, ed. Rónán McDonald (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 105-19

    36.    “Media,” in Literature Now: Key Terms for Literary History, eds. Sascha Bru, Ben de Bruyn and Michael Delville (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015)

    37.    “In Theory: Stein and Film Philosophy,” in Gertrude Stein in Europe: Reconfigurations Across Media, Disciplines, and Traditions, eds. Sarah Posman and Laura Louise Schultz (London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2015)

    38.    “New Media Modernism,” in The Cambridge Companion to the American Modernist Novel, ed. Joshua L. Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 210-226

    39.    “Cinematography of the Group,” in The Cinema of Theo Angelopoulos, eds. Angelos Koutsourakis and Mark Steven (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 159-174

    40.     “Modern Media Ecology,” in The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner, ed. John T. Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 14-29

    41.     “Faulkner in the Histories of Film: ‘Where Memory is the Slave’,” in Faulkner and Film: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 2010, eds. Peter Lurie and Ann J. Abadie (Jackson, MI: University Press of Mississippi, 2014), pp. 197-219

    42.    “Towards a Gendered Media Ecology,” in Modernism and Masculinity, eds. Natalya Lusty and Julian Murphet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 53-70

    43.    “Flann O’Brien and Modern Character,” in Flann O'Brien and Modernism, eds. Ronan McDonald, Sascha Morrell, and Julian Murphet (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 149-162

    44.     “A Loose Democracy in the Skull: Characterology and Neuroscience,” in Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind, eds. Helen Groth and Chris Danta (London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 189-205

    45.     “The Media of Diaspora,” in The Blackwell Companion to Diaspora and Transnational Studies, eds. Ato Quayson and Girish Daswani (Oxford: Blackwell, 2013), pp. 54-67

    46.    “France, Europe, The World: 1945-89,” Samuel Beckett in Context, ed. Anthony Uhlmann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 126-138

    47.    “The Cave and The Road: Styles of Forgotten Dreams,” in Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, eds. Julian Murphet and Mark Steven (London & New York: Continuum, 2012), pp. 109-131

    48.    “The Novel amidst New Technology and Media,” in The Cambridge History of the English Novel, eds. Robert L. Caserio and Clement C. Hawes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 774-790

    49.    “Postcolonial writing in Australia and New Zealand,” in The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literatureed. Ato Quayson, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 446-483

    50.    Diary of a Bad YearParrhesia, Opinion and Novelistic Form,” in Strong Opinions: J.M Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction, eds. Chris Danta, Julian Murphet and Sue Kossew (Continuum Press, 2011), pp. 63-80

    51.    “Literature of Urban Rebellion,” in The Cambridge Companion to Los Angeles Literature, ed. Kevin McNamara (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 101-110

    52.     “Film and (as) Modernity,” in Handbook of Film Studies, eds. James Donald and Michael Renov (London: Sage, 2008), pp. 343-360

    53.     “Alain Badiou and Cultural Studies,” in New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory, eds. Gary Hall & Clare Birchall (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006), pp. 147-160

    54.    “Postmodernism and Space,” in The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism, ed. Steven Connor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 116-135

    55.    “Fiction and Postmodernity,” in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature, eds. Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls (Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 716-735

    56.     “Multiculturalism and All That Jazz,” with Desmond King, in American Politics and Society Today, ed. Robert Singh (Polity Press, 2002)

    57.    “Grounding Theory: Literary Theory and the New Geography,” in Post-Theory: New Directions in Criticism, eds. McQuillan et al (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), pp. 200-208

    Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

    58.    “Mineral Poetics,” Textual Practice 33.1, Special Issue: ‘Anti-Humanist Modernisms’, ed. Guy Stevenson (April 2020)—forthcoming, 9000 words

    59.     “block/supply/chain,” Australian Humanities Review 66 (May 2020)

    60. “An Oasis of Horror: affirming the affect in The Portrait of a Lady,” The Henry James Review 40.3, Forum Issue on Emotion, Feeling, Sentiment in James (Fall 2019): 194-203

    61.     “The Mortification of Novelistic Discourse,” The Journal of Beckett Studies 26.1 (April 2017): 39-52 

    62.    “Rosa Plus Emma,” Filzofski vestnik 13 Special Issue on Reason (Winter 2016-17): 201-12

    63.    “Godard’s Stereopticon,” Screening the Past 41, Special Issue on Late Godard, ed. Sarinah Masukor (December 2016)

    64.     “A Modest Proposal for the Inhuman,” Modernism/modernity 23.3 Special Issue: Inhumanism, ed. Aaron Jaffe (September 2016): 651-70

    65.    “Aesthetic Perception and ‘the flaw’: Towards a Jamesonian Account of Late James,” The Henry James Review36.3, Special Issue on Jameson and James (Fall 2015): 226-233

    66.     “On the Market and Uneven Development,” Affirmations: of the modern 1.1 (2013): 1-20

    67.    ‘Events listening to their own tremors’: Zukofsky and Objective Anachrony,” Textual Practice 26:2, Special Issue: The Uses of Anachronism, eds. Helen Groth and Paul Sheehan (Spring, 2012): 707-727

    68.    “Coetzee and Late Style: Exile within the Form,” in Twentieth Century Literature, Special Issue: Late Coetzee, eds. Murphet and Danta, 57.1 (2012): 86-104

    69.    “The Mole and the Multiple: A Chiasmus of Character,” New Literary History, Special Issue: Character, vol. 42, no. 2 (Spring, 2011): 255-276

    70.    The Wire and Realism,” Sydney Studies in English, Vol. 36 (2010): 52-76

    71.    “Beckett’s Televisual Modernism,” Critical Quarterly, Special Issue on Modernism and New Media History, ed. David Trotter, vol. 51, no. 2 (2009): 60-78

    72.    “Eliot’s Mechanism of Sensibility: poetic form and media change,” Literature and Aesthetics, vol. 18, no. 1 (2008): 31-42

    73.    “P. T. Anderson’s Dilemma,” Sydney Studies in English, vol. 34 (2008): 63-85

    74.    “Pitiable or Political Animals? Some notes on the ‘last humans’,” SubStanceVol. 37, no. 3, Issue 117 (December, 2008): 97-116

    75.    “Character and Event,” SubStance, Vol. 36, no. 3, issue 113 (September, 2007): 106-125

    76.    “Hard Drives?” Writing Technologies, Vol. 1, no. 1 (April, 2007)

    77.    “Postmodernism as American Studies,” Australasian Journal of American Studies, Vol. 25, no. 2 (December 2006): 65-76

    78.    “Behind the Scenes: Animation and Postmodern Value,” Sydney Studies in English 32 (2006): 143-165

    79.    “The Mulatto: an unspeakable concept,” Working Papers on the Web, Volume 5 (2003)

    80.    “Film Noir and the Racial Unconscious,” Screen 39:1 (Spring, 1998): 22-35

    81.    “Identity and Difference in Anna Deavere Smith’s Performance Art,” Wasafiri 27 (Spring 1998): 29-33


    Reviews and other pieces

    82.    Review of Peter Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, Vol II, in Sydney Review of Books (30 March 2020)

    83.  Review of Keston Sutherland, Poetical Works, 1999-2015, in Chicago Review 62.01 (Spring 2019)

    84.    Review of Annie McCallahan, Dead Pledges and Jasper Bernes, The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization, in Affirmations: of the modern Vol 5, no. 1 (2017)

    85.    Review of Robert S. Levine, The Lives of Frederick Douglass, in AJAS Vol. 35, no. 2 (December 2016)

    86.    Review of Fredric Jameson, The Ancients and the Postmoderns, in Affirmations: of the modern Vol 3, no. 1 (2015) 

    87.    “Steven Connor from Down Under,” Critical Quarterly, Special Issue on Steven Connor, ed. Joseph Brooker (2014)

    88.    “No Alternative: On Vivek Chibber,” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry Vol. 1, no. 1. (September 2013)

    89.    Review of Michael Wutz, Enduring Words: Literary Narrative in a Changing Media Ecology (2009), Review of English Studies (2010)

    90.    “Whither Cultural Studies?” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 22, no. 5 (2008)

    91.    Review of Jean-François LyotardFriedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida (Routledge Critical Thinkers Series) in Literature and Aesthetics (June 2004) 

    92.    “Has September 11 Changed Literary Studies?” Australian Humanities Review

    93.    Review of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay, eds. The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, in Wasafiri 13.27 (1998)

  • Professional Associations

    Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities in Australia, 2013-

    Member of the Australian Research Council's College of Experts, 2019-

    Member of the Editorial Board of Modernism/Modernity

    Member of the Editorial Board of The Faulkner Journal

    Member of the Advisory Board of the British Association of Modernist Studies

    Member of the Modernist Studies Association

    Member of the American Studies Association

    Member of the Australasian Modernist Studies Network

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Entry last updated: Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020

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