Benjamin Dalton

Dr.

20192022

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Biography

Following an undergraduate degree in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and German) and an MPhil in European and Comparative Literatures and Cultures at the University of Cambridge, I completed my PhD in French at King’s College London in 2020. My doctoral thesis was entitled ‘Plasticity in Contemporary French Thought, Literature and Film: Witnessing Transformations with Catherine Malabou’. Here, I explored Malabou’s interdisciplinary philosophy of bodily transformation and biological mutability in relation to depictions of corporeal metamorphosis in contemporary French writing and film. I argued that contemporary French film and literature are currently bearing witness to the mutability of the biological body in ways which simultaneously resonate with, challenge and extend Malabou’s own thought. I am currently developing this research into a monograph.

Following my PhD, I taught as a lecteur at Université Paris Nanterre (2019-21). During this time, I also taught courses in philosophy, literature and film at Université La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, where I created and taught the masters course ‘Queer Literature, Film and Thought in English in the 20th and 21st Centuries’.

I am joining the University of Birmingham 2021-22 as Teaching Fellow in French, Sexuality and Gender.

Research interests

My research is situated broadly in contemporary French thought and cultural production. More specifically, I explore how French thought, literature and film dialogue with current and ongoing research in biomedical science in order to approach and conceptualise the innate transformability, mutability and plasticity of the body. My doctoral thesis and recent publications have focused largely on the work of the contemporary philosopher Catherine Malabou, putting her concept of ‘plasticity’ into dialogue with depictions of ‘plastic’, mutating bodies in contemporary French literature and film. My research also has a focus on questions of gender, sexuality, and queerness. I am interested in how philosophical and scientific explorations of bodily mutability and metamorphosis intersect with current queer theory and queer cultural production.     

For instance, my book chapter, ‘Cruising the Queer Forest with Alain Guiraudie: Woods, Plastics, Plasticities’ (2019), looks at how the filmmaker Alain Guiraudie’s depictions of queer sexuality and desire are inextricably bound with cinematographic explorations of biological and ecological mutability and transformation. I have also explored themes of biological mutability, queer political protest, and healthcare in the films of Robin Campillo, and am currently co-editor of the forthcoming Special Issue of Modern and Contemporary France: ‘Robin Campillo’s 120 Battements par minute (2017): Screening AIDS, Activism, and Queer Identity in Contemporary France’ (forthcoming 2022). I also recently co-organised the international 3-day conference ‘Contemporary Womxn’s Writing and the Medical Humanities’ (July 2021), following a 13-part seminar online seminar series of the same title. Among the themes explored in the seminar series and conference was the question of how contemporary (fiction, philosophy, autobiography, etc.) can help imagine and innovate truly emancipatory, queer healthcare.

I am currently developing a monograph based on my doctoral research into the philosophy of Catherine Malabou and her central concept of ‘plasticity’, tentatively titled Plasticity in Contemporary French Thought, Literature and Film: Witnessing Transformations with Catherine Malabou. Beyond that, my research is now turning to the question of the hospital in contemporary French philosophy, asking: how can French thought re-imagine and transform hospitals and clinical spaces to benefit patients? On this topic, my article ‘The Plastic Hospital: Catherine Malabou’s Architectural Therapeutics’ is forthcoming in Essays in French Literature and Culture in 2021.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

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