Rex Ferguson

Colleges, School and Institutes


Having received my undergraduate degree in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of Glasgow in 2004 I went on to complete an MLitt degree in ‘Modernities’ and a PhD at the same institution. In September 2010 I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to joining the University of Birmingham I was teaching in the Department of English Literature at the University of Glasgow.

Research interests

My research is shaped by my engagement with a cultural studies approach to literary analysis and by my interest in modern continental philosophy (particularly phenomenology). As such, my work often examines the historical specificity of texts, not with a view to providing a context for that work's significance, but in order to explicate with more precision the cultural moment which it contributes to creating. Placing texts, artefacts and disciplines up against each other, my intention is to offer new versions of what Walter Benjamins described as constellations (ie. the ideas/objects/concepts/spaces that shape our being-in-the-world). My first monograph is a case in point: Criminal Law and the Modernist Novel (Cambridge University Press) connects the modernist writing of E. M. Forster, Ford Madox Ford and Marcel Proust with developments in the criminal trial, arguing that both discourses contribute to a culture in which the modern concept of experience is disappearing. In the book, I thus compare the form and content of modernist narratives with their 'realist' parents - the novel and trial in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: both entities which, I argue, are very much based on the 'experience' of modern philosophy and science.

My current research project builds upon this interest in law by examining a range of identification techniques (photographic mugshots, fingerprints, DNA analysis) and suggesting that they form inherent connections with various theoretical models of identity and literary representations of subjectivity. This work has also been behind my founding of an AHRC funded research network entitled ‘The Art of Identification’, details of which can be found at

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I have supervised students on a range of topics related to the literature of the twentieth century and currently supervise projects on Autopoeisis and Metafiction, Freud and Modernism, and Orwell and Law.

I would be very happy to hear from prospective students working in the following areas:

Twentieth-century Fiction
Philosophy and Literature (particularly phenomenological approaches)
Cultural approaches (particularly those interested in the history of moods, emotions, objects and embodiment)
Law and Literature
Critical Theory