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Dr Daniel Hartley

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies+44 (0) 191 33 44334


Research Interests

I am Associate Professor in World Literatures. My research focuses on literary style, ‘world literature’ and the historical sociology of modernity. My first book, The Politics of Style: Towards a Marxist Poetics (Brill: 2017), developed a systematic theory of literary style through an immanent critique of the work of Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. I have continued to refine my thinking on style in articles for Poetics Today, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory, and Textual Practice.

Style raises the question of how one conceptualizes the intersection of individual and collective. The phenomenon of impersonality raises similar questions. To explore them, I have published several articles which offer (broadly speaking) an interdisciplinary study of literary impersonality in ‘world literature’ across the long twentieth century: from the writings of Karl Marx, through early twentieth-century modernism and literary criticism, to contemporary postcolonial fiction and literary theory. They connect and intervene in four debates: the question of modernist impersonality (its nature, range and variable political valences); contemporary theories of ‘world literature’; the notion of capitalism as a system of ‘impersonal domination’; and what might broadly be called the ‘poetics of critique.’

I have also continued my engagement with Raymond Williams’s work. I read Williams’s late work in particular – from the 1970s onwards – as a complement and challenge to prevailing materialist approaches to ‘world literature.’ In a recent article, I argued that his writings on Wales, nationalism, modernism, the classics, writing and orality, not to mention his cultural materialist methodology more generally, offer a powerful anti-imperial conception of literacy and a novel understanding of universality, intellectuality, and education. I also recently edited a special issue of the journal Key Words, the topic for which will be ‘Raymond Williams and “World Literature.”’

I am currently working on a new book project, provisionally entitled Peasant Modernism: The Cultural Logic of Post-Capitalism, for which I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for the academic year 2023-4. Depeasantization is often seen as definitive of modernity: the peasant belongs to a pre-modern past that is overcome in the course of modern capitalist development. Yet contemporary repeasantization movements (e.g., La Via Campesina) challenge this view of history. In their rejection of capitalist industrial agriculture, their fight for food sovereignty and land, peasants are fully contemporary global subjects. Accordingly, this project develops a theory of "peasant modernism". It identifies the impasses of dominant discourses of modernity (on left and right), explores old and new modes of (aesthetic and political) peasant representation, and studies the grassroots decolonization of intellectual production. Peasant imaginaries, I claim, are key to any "Green New Deal".

I am also compiling material for projects on Spinozism and literature, the Objectivist poets, and anti-capitalist documentary poetics. Long term, I hope to write an intellectual history of cultural revolution. To this end I have already published two preparatory articles, both on the early Marx: one on the relevance of Schiller’s conception of aesthetic education for the early Marx’s theory of revolution, and one on objectivity, alienation and the senses in the 1844 Manuscripts. I have ongoing interests in the history of aesthetics, the Anthropocene/ Capitalocene, and theories of the subject in radical contemporary thought.

Academic Biography

I completed my B.A. in English Literature at the University of Cardiff, during which I worked for one year as an assistant d'anglais at a lycée in Orléans (France). Following my undergraduate studies, I returned to France to work as a lecteur d'anglais for one year at Université Nancy 2 and Sciences Po. From 2008-2010, I undertook a two-year Research M.A. in Literary Studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. I was subsequently awarded a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (Germany). Following my Ph.D., I worked for two years as a wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, and 6 months as a Temporary Professor, in the English department at Gießen. From 2016-18, I was a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for World Literatures at the University of Leeds, working as part of a Leverhulme project entitled “Traumatic Pasts, Cosmopolitanism, and Nation-Building in Contemporary World Literature.” In summer 2018, I was appointed Assistant Professor of World Literatures at Durham.


I welcome applications or informal queries relating to Ph.D. supervision in research areas which overlap with my own, in particular:

  • Marxist literary theory (especially the work of Raymond Williams)
  • Althusserian and post-Althusserian thought (esp. Badiou and Rancière)
  • Materialist approaches to "world literature"
  • Most areas of Marxist poetics/ aesthetics
  • Environmental humanities 


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)

Supervision students