Doctor Ben Etherington

Doctor Ben Etherington

Senior Research Lectureship-Literature,
Arts (SoHCA)


Ben Etherington is Senior Lecturer in postcolonial and world literary studies in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and 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 Faculty of English research fellow. His publications include Literary Primitivism (Stanford, 2018), the Cambridge Companion to World Literature (2018, co-edited with Jarad Zimbler), and Unsettled Poetics: Contemporary Australian and South African Poetry (special issue of Wasafiri magazine). His current project, on the poetics of creole verse, takes him regularly to the Caribbean and particularly Jamaica. He is currently serving as the elected academic representative on the University's Board of Trustees (2016-19).

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) 9685 9373
Location: EQ.1.39

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  • Etherington, B. (2018), 'Literary Primitivism', : Stanford University Press 9781503602366.
  • Etherington, B. and Zimbler, J. (2018), 'The Cambridge Companion to World Literature', : Cambridge University Press 9781108471374.

Chapters in Books

  • Etherington, B. and Zimbler, J. (2018), 'Introduction', The Cambridge Companion to World Literature, Cambridge University Press 9781108471374.
  • Etherington, B. (2018), 'Scales, systems, and meridians', The Cambridge Companion to World Literature, U.K. 9781108457842.
  • 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. (2018), 'The new primitives', Los Angeles Review of Books, vol May 24, 2018 .
  • Etherington, B. (2017), 'Deconstructing decolonisation : Victor Questel's Collected Poems', Cordite Poetry Review, vol 81 .
  • Etherington, B. (2017), 'Ben Etherington reviews Borrowed Light', Critical Inquiry, vol 43, no 4 , pp 897 - 899.
  • Etherington, B. (2017), 'Crave?ho's universe', Sydney Review of Books, vol 27/10/2017 .
  • Etherington, B. (2016), '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. (2016), 'An interview with Ali Cobby Eckermann', Wasafiri, vol 31, no 2 , pp 13 - 17.
  • Etherington, B. (2016), 'This little university went to market', Sydney Review of Books, vol 21/06/2016 .
  • Etherington, B. (2016), 'Unsettled poetics : contemporary Australian and South African poetry', Wasafiri, vol 31, no 2 , pp 1 - 4.
  • Etherington, B. (2015), 'The poet tasters', Sydney Review of Books, vol 30/01/2015 .
  • 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. (2013), 'Cellular scansion : creolization as poetic practice in Brathwaite's Rights of passage', Thinking Verse, vol 3 , pp 188 - 210.
  • Etherington, B. (2013), 'The real deal', Sydney Review of Books, .
  • Etherington, B. (2013), 'Road to omission', Sydney Review of Books, .
  • Etherington, B. (2013), 'The brain feign', Sydney Review of Books, .
  • 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. and Zhou, M. (2011), 'Introduction: Pure Language, Pure Medium?', Comparative Critical Studies, vol 8 , pp 35 - 38.
  • 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

Ben’s research is centrally concerned with literature and decolonisation. His current project traces the emergence of a creole poetics in the period between the end of slavery and political independence. (See essays in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Thinking Verse and Journal of West Indian Literature.) His recently published Literary Primitivism (Stanford, 2018), argues that primitivism arose in reaction to the apotheosis of European imperialism, and that the most intensively primitivist literary works were produced by imperialism's colonized subjects.

With Jarad Zimbler, Ben initiated a research collaboration Crafts of World Literature in 2011, a project that focuses on literary technique within the fields of postcolonial and world literary studies. A conference at the University of Oxford in 2012 was followed in 2013 by a symposium on poetic craft in settler colonies at the Writing and Society Research Centre. In 2014, the network held a symposium on Craft Wars at the University Cape Town. Special issues arising from these events have been published with the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and Wasafiri. Ben and Jarad are the editors of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to World Literature. A related project is the ARC funded Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature in which he is working with J. M. Coetzee, Gail Jones, Nick Jose, Anthony Uhlmann, and Alexis Wright to explore 'world literature' from the vantage of specific literary practices.

These interests form part of Ben's contribution to the Poetry and Poetics, which he helped Kate Fagan to develop within the Writing and Society Research Centre. In 2016, he convened with Sean Pryor (UNSW) a conference on historical poetics and exemplarity (A Poem). A special issue is forthcoming with Critical Quarterly.

Ben also writes essays on Australian literary criticism under the moniker of 'Critic Watch' for the Sydney Review of Books.

Areas of expertise: 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
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Anthony Uhlmann, Alexis Wright, Ben Etherington and Gail Jones
Years: 2017-03-15 - 2020-03-14
ID: P00023265


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Performance Writing: Reinventing Poetics before Text
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Newos Kanmn: Towards a Poetics of Prehistoric Fiction
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: 'No Island is a Man' and 'Exploring Post-Human Particularities in "World Literature" through an Australian Lens'
Field of Research:
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: The Content of the Avant-Garde: Subjectivity, Community, Revolution
Field of Research: Literature; Creative Arts Not Elsewhere Classified; Other Society And Culture
Thesis Title: Literary Recognition: Representation of Islam and Muslims in Post 9/11 Novels
Field of Research: Other Society And Culture


Title: Roast or Fry? Dancehall in the Yards of Kingston
Description: Feature radio documentary on the dancehall scene in Jamaica

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