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John Scholar

John Scholar profile picture

Director, MA in English Literature

Areas of interest

My research spans Victorian and modern literature, looking at how intellectual history can help us understand the changing form of the novel.

My first book, Henry James and the Art of Impressions (OUP, 2020), placed fiction and non-fiction of Henry James in dialogue with an interdisciplinary history of the 'impression', drawing in philosophy, psychology, painting, and modern critical theory. I argue that James tried to wrest the impression from the impressionists and to recast it in his own art of the novel in order to represent the most intense moments of consciousness of his characters.

My interest in the relationship between literature and philosophy has also prompted work exploring how continental philosophy (Heidegger, Bergson) can historicize modernist form in James Joyce’s Ulysses, especially its representation of the material world and the ‘stream of consciousness’.

I am currently in the early stages of writing a book about the intersections of economics, psychoanalysis and the novel between the two world wars. I am interested in how these modernist discourses vied with each other to make sense of aggression, including the role of money in conflicts between sexes, classes and nations.



I teach 'Poetry in English' (EN1PE), ‘Shelf Life’ (EN1SL), ‘The Romantic Period’ (EN2RP), and 'Decadence and Degeneration: Literature of the 1890s' (EN3DD). I convene and teach two third-year courses, ‘Oscar Wilde and the World of Art’ (EN3OW), and ‘Literature and Mental Health’ (EN3LMH).


I have studied at the University of Oxford (BA, D.Phil.), the London School of Economics (MSc), and Birkbeck College (MA). Before coming to Reading, I was a Fellow by Examination at Magdalen College, Oxford, and a Stipendiary Lecturer at New College, Oxford. Before my academic career, I worked as an economist in HM Treasury.


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