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Rosemary Clarke

rosemary dot clarke at warwick dot ac dot uk

I am a current doctoral student at the University of Warwick in the department of English and Comparative Literature, due to graduate in 2015. I gained my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Sussex in Philosophy and English (2008), going on to study a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature at Goldsmith’s University (2010). In the future I aim to teach at undergraduate and graduate level, potentially in the USA and possibly France or Berlin. I would also be interested in gaining another Master’s in Film Studies at some point. More immediately, I am looking forward to assisting/teaching during my PhD in order to develop and hone my skills as well as learning for myself the areas that I am most interested in teaching.


During the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, I completed modules in the work of Franz Kafka, Nietzsche and Nihilism, Martin Heidegger and Modernist literature. I completed a dissertation in each, and the influence of these areas has been huge on my current research.


Within the Comparative Literature department, I followed the Modern Literary Theory pathway. The most influential classes were the core module, which focused on theories of literature and culture, involving the work of; Freud; Heidegger; Merleau-Ponty; Benjamin; Adorno; Blanchot and Derrida, and the class on Literature and Philosophy, which allowed me to study Heidegger, Benjamin and Blanchot in more depth. In addition, modules on Translation Theory and the European Avant-Garde broadened my horizons and introduced perspectives outside of literature and philosophy.


My fields of interest lie within 20th Century European philosophy, specifically Derrida, Blanchot, Habermas, and Nietzsche. In addition, I am interested in the literature of Kafka, Beckett, Camus, Cioran and Celan. My doctoral thesis is still in its infancy but focuses on how the secularisation of Western society has impacted perspectives on death and mortality, and if it is possible to reconcile political and social attitudes with philosophical approaches to death on an individual level. I am very interested in the hold that Christianity still has on secular societies and how this oppresses progressive attitudes towards death. My research discusses the conflict between individual desires and collective needs, and how autonomous choice can be sacrificed in favour of the group, which in the case of death is very troublesome. Nietzsche and Derrida’s assessments of Christianity provide philosophical critiques of the problem of religious authority, while Blanchot develops Derrida’s exploration of the possibility of possessing death, and death’s inherent nature as an impossible experience. Through discussing this, I hope to illustrate how death can be retained as an individual experience, albeit one that cannot be fully understood or undergone, in the face of religious, political and social pressures to hand over control of one’s death. As a result, attitudes towards mortality would be able to evolve and become more accepting and less fearful.

Areas of interest include; biopolitics; the concept of suicide; suicidology and thanatology; the im/possibility of experiencing death; theoretical and physical borders between life and death; how the atom bomb and cold war changed public perceptions of death; the concept of a point zero and the significance of placing emphasis on death rather than life. My research branches into the fields of political theory, sociology, psychoanalysis and psychology.

The working title of my thesis is Literature's dying body; autonomy and death in the 20th Century and I am supervised by Professor Thomas Docherty.

Rosemary Clarke

Rosemary dot Clarke at warwick dot ac dot uk