School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr Lars Iyer

Reader in Creative Writing

Background

Background

I am a Reader in Creative Writing and Subject Head of Creative Writing.

I have published four novels, which, by their formal experimentalism and subject-matter, are rooted in European traditions of literature, and have been linked by reviewers to Beckett and Bernhard. My novels reflect my interests in the Continental European thought and are fundamentally comic in style and vision. They have been translated into several languages and long- and shortlisted for various awards.

Before joining the Creative Writing, I taught philosophy for many years at Newcastle University. I have published widely on aesthetics, with special emphasis on the philosophy of literature, and have a particular interest in the philosophy of music.

Research

Research Interests

Fiction

I write novels of ideas, the protagonists of which are amateur or professional philosophers trying to make sense of the world around them. My work is fundamentally comic, in the broad tradition of Beckett but also British comedy (virtually every reviewer of my work mentions Withnail and I) and is rooted in continental-philosophical and literary writings of the past century, which reflects my own intellectual background.

To date, I have published four novels, the first three of which comprise the Spurious trilogy (Spurious (2011), Dogma (2012), Exodus (2013)). The fourth, Wittgenstein Jr (2014) and my soon-to-be-completed fifth, Nietzsche and the Burbs, comprise the first two parts of a much more loosely constructed trilogy, linked only by theme and narrative approach, each of which takes the life of a world-famous philosopher as their narrative template and stylistic guide, recasting these historical thinkers in contemporary Britain.

My fiction explores the impact of larger social forces on the feelings and modes of existence of people in contemporary life. The forces in question include neoliberal capitalism and contemporary work practices (bureaucracy, managerialism). The feelings in question include ‘negative’ emotions of despair, ennui, as well as modes of cynicism and opportunism. The modes of existence in question include philosophising, artistic production (writing, music-making), political activism and religious practices, as well as ethical practices in general (especially friendship and community).

My fiction employs unusual narrative structures, in which access to the characters and their fictional world is filtered through reported speech. As such, they are rooted in the work of Thomas Bernhard, and I consider myself to be a post-Bernhardian writer, drawing on his innovative approach to fiction-writing. Although my work employs distinctively British forms of humour, particular in its shifts of tone (from high seriousness to grotesque comedy), I see my work as a response to continental literary and philosophy modernism. It is fiction in this tradition, for example, that written by Franz Kafka, Marguerite Duras and Clarice Lispector, that interests me. Contemporary authors I admire include Roberto Bolaño, Gabriel Josipovici and Enrique Vila-Matas.

Philosophy

I also have a strong interest in the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Bataille, Levinas, Blanchot, Agamben and Virno, with special reference to aesthetics (in particular literature and music) and political philosophy.

Postgraduate Supervision 

I am currently supervising a Northern-Bridge funded PhD that uses Jacques Rancière's notion of dissensus to explore free improvisational practice in music.

I have supervised the following PhDs to completion:

Stephen Overy, The Genealogy of Nick Land's Anti-Anthropocentric Philosophy: A Psychoanalytic Conception of Machinic Desire (2016)

Adam Potts, From Active to Passive Noise: Rethinking the Radicalism of Japanese Noise Music (2014)

Will Schrimshaw, A Sound Takes Place: Noise, Difference and Sonorous Individuation After Deleuze (2013)

I welcome applications from students wanting to work on creative writing, literary theory, the philosophy of literature, aesthetics, and continental philosophy from the nineteenth century to the present.

Publications