Doctor Ben Etherington

Doctor Ben Etherington

Writing and Society Research Centre


Ben 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 pursue an MPhil and then 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, and 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)

  • Writing and Society Research Centre


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

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Chapters in Books

  • 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. (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.


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 decolonization as an idea, the first study for which has been published in Modern Intellectual History.

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. A special issue that will draw on the event in Sydney is forthcoming with Wasafiri in June 2016. Etherington and Zimbler 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 Writing and Society Research Centre.

His first book, which is in its final stages of preparation, is a study of literary primitivism. Its thesis is that primitivism is not a mode of representation that idealizes a primitive ‘other’, but the attempt, through aesthetic practice, to enter into a disappearing primitive condition.

Ben writes occasional essays on Australian literary criticism for the Sydney Review of Books (Critic Watch).

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 Supervision

Title: Literary Recognition: Muslim Representation in Post 9/11 Novels
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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