MA (VU University, Amsterdam), MA (East Anglia), PhD (East Anglia)
Sebastian is Senior Lecturer in Modern English Literature. His interests focus on twentieth and twenty-first century Literature, Culture and Theory, with particular emphases on Modernism, contemporary fiction, 'postcolonial' work, contemporary women's writing (including Muslim women's fiction), and the representation of cities - London in particular. He is Principal Investigator of the Memory Network, an AHRC and Wellcome Trust-funded Research Network bringing scientists, arts and humanities scholars, writers and artists together to think critically and creatively about memory in the twenty-first century. He is also editor of the oldest literary magazine in the Lowlands, DWB.
Sebastian is currently finishing British Fictions of the Sixties (Bloombury Academic), editing a volume of critical and creative work on the Rhine, preparing a number of funding bids, editing a collaborative book with Memory Network members, provisionally entitled Memory in the Twnety-first Century: Critical Perspectives from the Arts, Humanities and the Sciences. He is also preparing critical volumes on the work of Haruki Murakami (with Heather Hei-Tai Yeung) and on Will Self with Nick Lavery.
Sebastian has worked on, and with, authors such as Will Self, Kazuo Ishiguro, A. S. Byatt, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Iain Sinclair, Hanif Kureishi, Maureen Duffy, Niall Griffiths, Tom McCarthy, Tiffany Murray, Susanna Jones, Helen Walsh and Kevin Sampson. He has also collaborated with visual artists and creative academics including Christian Nold, Nicoline van Harskamp, Hugo Spiers, Miek Zwamborn, Sam Roberts and Kamala Katbamna.
Sebastian is a Series Editor of Contemporary Critical Perspectives(Bloomsbury Academic), which includes volumes on J. G. Ballard; Ian McEwan; Kazuo Ishiguro, Julian Barnes, Sarah Waters, Andrea Levy, Ali Smith, A. L. Kennedy, Salman Rushdie and John Burnside. His monograph The Making of London (Palgrave) was published in 2011, and British Fiction in the Sixties (Bloomsbury Academic) will be published early in 2014. Palgrave published a co-edited volume on Kazuo Ishiguro's work: Kazuo Ishiguro: Critical Visions of the Novels (2011). Sebastian next project is a mid-length book exploring the relationship between literature and surveillance, provisionally entitled Observing Fiction: Literature and Surveillance from 1984 to 9/11. In 2014, he will also also work on the idea of the 'psychotope' in a manifesto entitled The Prosthetic Gods. Recently he has written journal articles and essays on authors including Virginia Woolf, W. G. Sebald; Iain Sinclair; Nell Dunn; J. G. Ballard; B. S. Johnson; Stella Gibbons; and Monica Ali. Sebastian has also reviewed fiction for The Guardian, and he is an editor of the Journal American, British and Canadian Studies, which has published a Special Edition on the work of Julian Barnes. He is a contributing editor of and reviewer for the oldest literary magazine in the Lowlands, DWB. Sebastian is also a regular contributor to The Literary Encyclopedia. He welcomes research students who are interested in any aspect of twentieth or twenty-first century literature and/or culture, creative writing, and he is particularly interested in supervising work on time, memory and consciousness; place/space; psychogeography; spying, surveillance and carceral theory; subversive and experimental literatures and radical aesthetics; and 'the posthuman'. He also works with, and welcomes new, creative writing students.
Sebastian is psychogeographer as well, and writes and thinks about the spirit of place, taking him to curious places such as the French business park Sophia-Antipolis and Heathrow airport. He once shot a film threading together all embassies in Bratislava, followed the dog catchers of Bucharest and explored pavement rehabilitation in Kuala Lumpur. You can listen to a walk of London's Elephant and Castle area for artist Kamala Katbamna or read a surreal walk through Los Angeles. A film about the Amsterdam South-Axis will be available soon, and he's working on a psychogeography of the Rhine with writer and artist Miek Zwamborn.
Follow Sebastian on Twitter
THE MEMORY NETWORK
Sebastian is Principal Investigator of the Memory Network, a multi-disciplinary enterprise that brings together researchers, authors and artists, and organisations to provoke and fuel original thinking about memory in the twenty-first century. It is led by the University of Roehampton and Durham University and is funded by the AHRC and Wellcome Trust.
Writers and critics working in the arts and humanities are now seriously engaging with new critical perspectives offered by biosciences, psychology, and computer science to explore individual and collective memory in literary narratives, while scientists acknowledge the benefits of engaging with creative ideas and the ethical and hermeneutic perspectives offered through fictional explorations and humanities disciplines. The Memory Network aims to foster a profound and sustained engagement with these emerging models of memory and the ways in which they might generate or illuminate literary production. It moves away from existing, postmodern ways of thinking about memory which focus on historical amnesia, memorialisation, trauma and nostalgia. Instead of these socio-cultural and therapeutic narratives, the Network is interested in mobilising the transformative and dynamic potential of memory, consciousness and cognition as a subject of literary-scientific enquiry.
The Memory Network addresses new and urgent questions about our global future, in which memory, paradoxically, plays a vital part. In an increasingly chaotic world made unpredictable by the casino economy, how can we harness memory as a force that can contribute to shaping a more stable, sustainable world? What is the relationship between memory and pressing ecological issues: how can we simultaneously know that climate change is likely to be the end of mankind and at the same time endlessly forget our knowledge of this seemingly inescapable fate? In the face of an aging population, can there be a role for literature in alleviating the consequences of dementia: can connections be made between the structures of verbal and visual memory and the re-reading of childhood literature? How do new technologies and social media allow or force people to shape future memories of themselves? Are all-pervasive technologies in our contemporary world taking over cognitive processes: do GPS-systems reduce our brain’s navigational skills? Does Google change human nature because our need to remember has become redundant? Should literary critics care that Neuroscience has studied Marcel Proust’s iconic madeleine-episode in À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, and shown that the memories of Combray that flood back to him when he eats the cake dipped in tea are not completely involuntary, but rather the result of ‘metonymic expansion’ that also draws on voluntary memory?
In this new context, the Memory Network aims to map, generate and promote emerging ideas about memory, and explore ways in which new models might illuminate art and literature. Members of the Memory Network interact with each other and the wider public audience through events, an online series of Exchanges, and collaborative publications. Currently, core members are working in the fields of English Literature, Philosophy of Science, Computer Science, Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Film Studies, Anthropology, and History. Researchers, writers and artists interested in joining the Network’s activities are warmly invited to contact us, or to send an enquiry.
You can find more information, and become a member, on the Memory Network website.
Media: BBC radio and TV; Guardian; Museum of London; Nesta; Cheltenham Literary Festival; Edinburgh Literary Festival; Serpentine Gallery etc.
Peer reviewer for: Edinburgh UP, palgraveMacMillan, Bloomsbury Academic, Gothic Studeis, C21 Literature, European Journal of Cultural Studies, English Studies, Clio: A Journal of Literature, History and teh History of Literature, European Journal of Cultural Studies,
MA/PGDip Modern Literature and Culture,
Research degree English Literature