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Dr Marc Botha

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies
Associate Professor, Department of English Studies, Durham University in the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience


Office Hour

Monday, 12.00 - 13.00 (or by appointment)

Work phone: 079 904 61619


Having taught and performed widely as a classical saxophonist in South Africa, I turned my attention more fully to the field of literary and cultural theory, and completed my MA at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I first came to Durham as a Doctoral Fellow in 2006. I completed my doctorate in Modernism and Literary Theory in 2011, and was appointed a Lecturer in English at the University of Pretoria in 2012. I was subsequently seconded in 2012 as a research associate on the Leverhulme Trust Tipping Points project hosted by Durham’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience.

I was appointed to my current position in the Department of English Studies in 2016. Betweem 2017 and 2020 I was co-director of Durham’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. Since 2016 I have been an Research Associate at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.



My research is almost always interdisciplinary, and interrogates the intersection of critical theory, ethics and aesthetics, and the relationship between literature, the visual arts and music. In terms of period focus, I principally (although not exclusively) draw on modern and contemporary work. 

My work generally takes shape around particular concepts – minimum, event, austerity, fragility, divination, viscerality, object, and encounter for example – and the ways these concepts travel between histories, places, cultures, political imaginaries and media. My approach is generally eclectic, but I have particularly strong affinities with deconstruction, object-oriented thought, theories of the event (especially Badiou), aspects of theology and religion, and queer theory. 

These interests feed into ongoing work in three principal areas of research: minimalism, fragility and vulnerability, futurity and the politics of prediction and forecasting, and queer studies.

My earlier work on minimalism has centred on developing a general theory applicable to literature, music and the visual arts, and which is able to map the relation of minimalism to broader questions of realism, multiplicity, phenomenology, object-oriented ontology, and deconstruction. My work on minimalism habitually explores a transhistorical range of works across the arts. I am beginning work on a second large-scale project in the field of minimalist studies, addressing minimalism and the sacred across several faith traditions. In addition I continue to research and teach on minimalism as it manifests in short fiction, micro- and twitter fiction, concrete and intermedia poetry and poetics, and queer, post- and decolonial minimalisms.

My work on fragility (and related discourses on risk and vulnerability) is ongoing and will form the basis of a book project provisionally entitled Appearing in Disappearing: On the Politics and Poetics of Fragility, which takes shape around a sustained concern with the tension between embodiment and viscerality on the one hand, and abstraction and the process of disappearance on the other.

This includes an engagement with US poet Rob Halpern’s remarkable tetralogy (culminating in Common Place); a sustained discussion of the work of creative polymath Meredith Monk; and ongoing work on the poetry garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Little Sparta, and recent and contemporary adaptations of fragile archives of Southern African indigenous /Xam poetry by, among others, Stephen Watson and Antjie Krog.



My research in these and related fields is represented in a monograph, A Theory of Minimalism (Bloomsbury, 2017), a special issue of English Academy Review addressing “Fragile Futures” (Routledge, 2014), a forthcoming co-edited collection (with Patricia Waugh), Future Theory: A Handbook to Critical Concepts (Bloomsbury, 2021). I have published a number of chapters in volumes including on microfiction in The Cambridge Companion to the English Short Story (CUP, 2016), on minimalism and temporality in Time: Limits and Constraints (Brill, 2010), and on cosmopoetics and rock art in Weeds and Viruses: Ecopolitics and the Demands of Theory (WVT Trier, 2015) and have articles published or forthcoming in journals including American Literary History, English Academy Review, Textual Practice, Oxford Literary Review, Postmodern Culture, and Parallax.

Research interests

  • Critical and Cultural Theory
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to literary study
  • Minimalism
  • Queer theory
  • Relationship between literature, visual arts, and music
  • Risk, Vulnerability, Fragility, Forecasting


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article