Doctor Ben Etherington

Doctor Ben Etherington

Arts (SoHCA)


Ben Etherington is a lecturer in postcolonial and world literary studies in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, and is also a member of the Writing and Society Research Centre. He holds honours degrees in Musicology and English from the University of Western Australia. He was awarded a General Sir John Monash Award to undertake an MPhil and PhD in English at the University of Cambridge, where he was later a postdoctoral research fellow. His current project, on the poetics of creole verse, takes him regularly to the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica. Ben is currently serving as the elected academic representative on the University's Board of Trustees (2016-17).

This information has been contributed by Doctor Etherington.


  • PhD University of Cambridge (UK)
  • MPh Eng University of Cambridge (UK)

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Arts (SoHCA)


Phone: (02) 9772 6196
Location: 5.G.12

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Chapters in Books

  • Etherington, B. (2016), 'How to read a big book : the critical reception of Hannah Kent's Burial Rites in the context of contemporary trade book marketing', The Return of Print?: Contemporary Australian Publishing, Monash University Publishing 9781925495294.
  • Etherington, B. (2007), 'Said, Grainger and the Ethics of Polyphony', Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual, Melbourne University Press 9780522853568.

Journal Articles

  • Etherington, B. (2016), 'An interview with Ali Cobby Eckermann', Wasafiri, vol 31, no 2 , pp 13 - 17.
  • Etherington, B. (2015), 'On scanning Louise Bennett seriously', Journal of West Indian Literature, vol 23, no 1-2 , pp 19 - 34.
  • Etherington, B. (2014), 'Universities and the block', Sydney Review of Books, .
  • Etherington, B. and Zimbler, J. (2014), 'Field, material, technique : on renewing postcolonial literary criticism', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol 49, no 3 , pp 279 - 297.
  • Zimbler, J., Etherington, B. and Bower, R. (2014), 'Crafts of world literature : field, material and translation', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol 49, no 3 , pp 273 - 278.
  • Etherington, B. (2014), 'An answer to the question : what is decolonization? : Frantz Fanon's The wretched of the earth and Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of dialectical reason', Modern Intellectual History, .
  • Etherington, B. (2013), 'Cellular scansion : creolization as poetic practice in Brathwaite's Rights of passage', Thinking Verse, vol 3 , pp 188 - 210.
  • Etherington, B. (2012), 'What is materialism's material? : thoughts toward (actually against) a materialism for "world literature"', Journal of Postcolonial Writing, vol 48, no 5 , pp 539 - 551.
  • Etherington, B. (2010), 'Sound Gazes? (Response to William Fitzgerald)', Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol 135, no sp1 , pp 39 - 43.
  • Etherington, B. (2010), 'Deafness and insight : on the seductions of the music/language analogy', Paragraph, vol 33, no 1 , pp 20 - 36.
  • Etherington, B. (2007), 'Instrumentalising Musical Ethics: Edward Said and West-Eastern Divan Orchestra', Australian Music Research, vol 9 , pp 121 - 129.

Other Publications

  • 2016, 'Roast or Fry: Dancehall in the Yards of Kingston', Recorded Work


The overarching concern of Ben’s work is with literature and decolonization; particularly the emergence of new literary materials and communities leading up to, during and then after that process. His current project is a historical poetics of early Caribbean creole poetry, tracing the emergence of creole poetics from the end of slavery through to its flourishing at the time of political independence. (Essays towards this can be found here, here and here.) A parallel project is a history of decolonisation as an idea, the first study for which has been published in Modern Intellectual History.

His first book, which is under contract with Stanford University Press, is a study of literary primitivism. It argues that primitivism was not a mode of representation that idealizes a primitive ‘other’, but the attempt, through aesthetic practice, to enter into a disappearing primitive condition. It was an aesthetic mode specific to period between finance-driven Imperialism and third-world decolonisation..

With Jarad Zimbler (Birmingham), Ben initiated a research collaboration Crafts of World Literature in 2011, a project that seeks to place questions of literary technique and craft at the centre of postcolonial and world literary studies. A conference in Oxford in 2012 was followed in 2013 by a symposium at the Writing and Society Research Centre. In 2014, the network held a symposium on Craft Wars at the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies at the University Cape Town. A special issue from the Oxford conference has been published with the Journal of Commonwealth Literature; and another following from the Sydney workshop is out with Wasafiri. Ben and Jarad are currently editing the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to World Literature.

These interests also form part of Ben's contribution to the UWS Poetry and Poetics Project, which he is developing with Kate Fagan within the Writing and Society Research Centre.

Ben writes occasional essays on Australian literary criticism and Higher Education for the Sydney Review of Books.

Areas of expertise and interest: primitivism, Caribbean poetry and poetics, literature and decolonization, historical poetics, materialist aesthetics, intellectual history of decolonization, literature and music, Australian literary criticism.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Etherington.

Current Projects

Title: Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature
Years: 2017-01-13 - 2020-01-12
ID: P00023265
Western Researchers: Anthony Uhlmann, Alexis Wright, Ben Etherington and Gail Jones
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)


Current Supervision

Title: Literary Recognition: Muslim Representation in Post 9/11 Novels
Field of Research:
Title: Genre Collisions, Culture Collisions: A Study of Fusions between Sub-Saharan African and Western Popular Music
Field of Research:
Title: The Psychic Life of Music
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Title: The Content of the Avant-Garde: Subjectivity, Community, Revolution
Thesis: The Content of the Avant-Garde: Subjectivity, Community, Revolution

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