Dr John Attridge

Senior Lecturer
B.A. Hons (University of Sydney) PhD (University of Sydney)
School of the Arts & Media


+61 2 9385 4484
+61 2 9385 6812
Room 228, Level 2, Robert Webster
Kensington Campus
Fields: Comparative Literature Studies, British and Irish Literature, North American Literature, Literature in French
Tags: Languages and literature


I am Senior Lecturer in English in the School of the Arts and Media. I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney in 2007 and taught at the Université Paris 7 before starting at UNSW in 2009. My research is on Anglo-American and French modernisms, with a particular focus on the work of Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, Henry James and Marcel Proust. Other research interests include modernist magazines, Liberalism, media and the cultural history of trust. 

I am completing a book manuscript entitled "The Invisible Vocation: Modernist Authorship and Professional Society", which examines the work of Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford and Henry James in the context of professionalism and occupational specialization. Perhaps more than any other contemporary group of writers, Conrad, Ford and James were responsible for promoting a conception of the novel in English as a theoretically self-conscious, formally rigorous art form, comparable in its technical demands on the practitioner to better-established fine arts like painting and music. This commitment to professional rigour, however, while it aligned them with a general social tendency towards increasing professionalization, also contradicted certain principles and credos which they found it difficult to abandon, associated both with the domain of aesthetics, in general, and the genre of the novel, in particular. Most fundamental of these contrastive beliefs was the Romantic-humanist idea that art and culture were synonymous with many-sided human flourishing, and hence opposed by definition to specialization. In diverse ways, this book argues, Conrad, Ford and James found themselves obliged to mediate between these opposing commitments, laying claim to the considerable authority of specialization in an era of rapid scientific and technological advancement, while simultaneously affirming the anti-specialist legacy of the Romantic idea of culture. 



    • Attridge J; Rosenquist R, (eds.), 2013, Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, 2013, Ashgate, Farnham

    Book Chapters

    • Attridge J, 2016, 'The Milieu is the Message: Henry James and Mediation', in Pryor S; Trotter D (ed.), Writing, Medium, Machine: Modern Technographies, Open Humanities Press, London, pp. 67 - 84, http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/writing-medium-machine/
    • Attridge J, 2016, 'Conrad, G.E. Moore and Idealism', in Hampson R; Baxter KI (ed.), Conrad and Language, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 44 - 63, https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-conrad-and-language-hb.html
    • Attridge J, 2015, 'Mind, body and embarrassment in Henry James's The Awkward Age', in Taylor J (ed.), Modernism and Affect: Feeling in Modern Literature and Culture, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 20 - 38, https://global.oup.com/academic/product/modernism-and-affect-9780748693252
    • Attridge J, 2015, 'Ford and Conrad', in Hawkes R; Chantler A (ed.), An Introduction to Ford Madox Ford, edn. Original, Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 23 - 36, https://www.routledge.com/products/9781472469083
    • Attridge J, 2014, 'Mythomaniac modernism: lying and bullshit in Flann O'Brien', in McDonald R; Murphet J (ed.), Strange Enlightenments: Flann O'Brien and Modernism, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 27 - 40, http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/flann-obrien-modernism-9781623568757/
    • Attridge J, 2014, ''A taboo on the mention of taboo': Englishness and taciturnity in Parade's End and André Maurois' Les Silences du colonel Bramble', in Hawkes R; Chantler A (ed.), Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End: The First World War, Culture, and Modernity, Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 23 - 37, http://rodopi.nl/ntalpha.asp?BookId=IFMFS+13&type=coming&letter=G
    • Attridge J, 2013, 'Episodic trust: self, society and sociology in A la recherche du temps perdu', in Attridge J; Rosenquist R (ed.), Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, edn. 2013, Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 199 - 214
    • Attridge J, 2013, 'Eclecticism and its discontents: Les Ecrits nouveaux (1917-22) and La Revue européenne (1923-31)', in Brooker P; Bru S; Thacker A; Weikop C (ed.), The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880 - 1940, edn. Original, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 203 - 218
    • Attridge J, 2013, 'Introduction: Literature, trust and deception', in Attridge J; Rosenquist R (ed.), Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, edn. 2013, Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 1 - 20
    • Attridge J, 2010, 'Liberalism and Modernism in the Edwardian Era: New Liberals at Ford's English Review', in Harding J (ed.), Ford Madox Ford, Modernist Magazines and Editing, edn. Original, Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 169 - 184
    • Attridge J, 2010, 'Murray Bail', in Shaffer BW (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction, edn. Original, Wiley-Blackwell, UK
    • Attridge J, 2008, ''We Will Listen to None but Specialists': Ford, the rise of specialization, and the English Review', in Gasiorek A; Moore D (ed.), Ford Madox Ford. Literary Networks and Cultural Transformations, edn. Original, Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 29 - 42

    Journal articles

    • Attridge J, 2014, 'Nonsense, ordinary language philosophy and Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman', Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 60, pp. 298 - 319, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/mfs.2014.0028
    • Attridge J, 2013, 'Two types of secret agency: Conrad, causation and popular spy fiction', Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 55, pp. 125 - 158, http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/texas_studies_in_literature_and_language/v055/55.2.attridge.html
    • Attridge J, 2012, 'Review essay: The Saddest Tory (review of Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End)', Modernism-Modernity, vol. 19, pp. 799 - 803, http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/modernism-modernity/v019/19.4.attridge.html
    • Attridge J, 2011, '"Human expertness": Professionalism, training, and the prefaces to the New York Edition', Henry James Review, vol. 32, pp. 29 - 44
    • Attridge J, 2011, 'The Lesson of the Master: Learning and Cognition in What Maisie Knew', Sydney Studies in English, vol. 37, pp. 22 - 43, http://escholarship.usyd.edu.au/journals/index.php/SSE/issue/current
    • Attridge J, 2010, '"The yellow-dog thing": Joseph Conrad, verisimilitude, and professionalism', ELH - English Literary History, vol. 77, pp. 267 - 296, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/elh.0.0081
    • Attridge J, 2010, 'Review essay: Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker, eds, The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I, Britain and Ireland 1880 - 1955 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)', Journal of Katherine Mansfield Studies, vol. 1, pp. 196- - 201
    • Attridge J, 2009, 'Review essay: Paris, capital of the nineteenth-century novel?', Modernism-Modernity, vol. 16, pp. 167 - 171, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/mod.0.0055
    • Attridge J, 2008, 'Steadily and whole: Ford Madox Ford and modernist sociology', Modernism - Modernity, vol. 15, pp. 297 - 315
    • Attridge J, 2004, 'Detourism: Murray Bail's photographic fiction', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 39, pp. 69 - 91, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0021989404047047


I convene "ARTS2036 Modernism Text and Screen" and "ARTS3054 The Getting of Wisdom: Youth, Literature and the Formation of the Self". I welcome PhD and Honours projects on literary modernism broadly defined, and especially any of the research areas listed in this profile.

Honours and prizes

ANU Humanities Research Centre Fellow 2016

Bruce Harkness Young Conrad Scholar Award 2010

Harry Ransom Center Fellow 2009-10

Australian Postgraduate Award