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Professor Thomas Docherty

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Emeritus Professor

Email: t dot docherty at warwick dot ac dot uk

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Twitter: @ThomasDocherty1


Professor Thomas Docherty is Emeritus Professor of English and of Comparative Literature.

Thomas Docherty graduated with his MA in English and French Language and Literature from the University of Glasgow, where he also studied Mathematics and Philosophy. He holds degrees of DPhil and of MA from Oxford University. After five years teaching in Oxford, he moved to University College Dublin and then on to Trinity College Dublin where he held the Chair of English (1867) - sometimes called the 'Dowden Chair', and one of the earliest Chairs of English in the world - between 1990-95, and was elected as Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. In 1995, he returned to the UK, taking the Chair of English and Directorship of Research in the University of Kent. He moved to Warwick in 2004, where he headed the department until 2009, before again becoming Director of Research until 2013.

In 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Degree - D.Litt. - by the University of Kent, in recognition of his academic achievements and commitment to higher education.

Research interests

Thomas Docherty has published on many areas of English and comparative literature from the renaissance to the present day. He specialises in the philosophy of literary criticism, in critical theory, and in cultural history in relation primarily to European philosophy and literatures. Recent work has been done on matters of cultural policy related to international higher education. His most recent books include Political English, a study of rhetoric, politics and the constitution of Englishness, considered in terms of the conditions of contemporary political language in English, French, Italian, German and Russian; and The Politics of Realism, which explores the conditions of realism in art and politics from Courbet, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Zola, James, Turgenev, Italian verismo, and on into Socialist Realism, the meanings of Realpolitik, documentary realism in John Grierson and others, Italian neorealist cinema, and totalitarian realism in our current moment. He is also putting together another new book (which may contain some of his extensive range of published essays on academic freedom) focused on 'cultures of prohibition and of resistance', provisionally titled Conditions of Democracy. There are two other works in progress: a novel about political and personal betrayal, entitled Another Country; and a memoir-cum-cultural-history about the conditions of working-class Glasgow life in the twentieth century, with no title as yet.

Selected publications

  • The Politics of Realism (Bloomsbury, 2021)
  • Political English (Bloomsbury, 2019)
  • Mood (co-edited with Birgit Breidenbach) (Routledge, 2019)
  • Literature and Capital (Bloomsbury, 2018)
  • The New Treason of the Intellectuals (Manchester UP, 2018)
  • Complicity: criticism between collaboration and commitment (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016) [read preview here: Complicity ]
  • Universities at War (Sage, 2014) [read here: War]
  • Confessions: the Philosophy of Transparency (Bloomsbury 2012) [read this free under Creative Commons, here: Confessions]
  • For the University (Bloomsbury 2011) [read this free under Creative Commons, here: For the University]
  • The English Question (Sussex Academic 2008) [click here for information and to read selected passages: The English Question]
  • Aesthetic Democracy (Stanford UP, 2006) [click here for info and selected passages: Aesthetic Democracy]
  • Criticism and Modernity (Oxford UP 1999) [click here for info and selected passages: Criticism and Modernity]
  • Alterities (Oxford UP 1996) [click here for info and to read: Alterities]
  • After Theory (Routledge 1990; revised expanded 2nd edition Edinburgh UP 1996) [click for info: After Theory]
  • Postmodernism (Harvester/Columbia UP 1993) [click for info: Postmodernism]
  • On Modern Authority (Harvester-Wheatsheaf 1987)
  • John Donne, Undone (Methuen/Routledge 1986)
  • Reading (Absent) Character (Oxford UP, 1983)


  • MA (Glasgow)
  • DPhil (Oxford), MA (Oxford)
  • D.Litt. (Kent)

Office hours

Professor Docherty can be contacted via email: