James McNaughton

James McNaughton

Associate Professor
Director, Graduate Studies


  • PhD, English, University of Michigan

Research Areas

  • 20th-Century British and Irish Literatures
  • Critical Theory
  • International Modernisms


I joined UA English in 2007 as a specialist in 20th-Century Irish writing, British and Irish poetry, Anglo-European modernism, and critical theory. Though my scholarship addresses modernism and Irish writing more broadly, my recent work examines Samuel Beckett’s political aesthetic. I find Beckett’s work particularly exciting and productive in exploring specific connections among politics, philosophy, literature, and history. I welcome the chance to work with students interested in these areas.

I founded and direct “UA in Ireland,” a study abroad program run in conjunction with the National University of Ireland, Galway.

In 2013, I was awarded the University of Alabama’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award.




“McNaughton’s new book marks the apotheosis of historical criticism in Beckett studies….what is to be found in Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath is nothing short of revelatory” –Michael Coffey, The Beckett Circle, May 2019.

“With great skill, the book’s comparative analysis investigates the Nazi, Soviet, British Imperialist, and Irish Nationalist discourses and practices….scrupulous close readings suture, rather than rend, connections to socio-historical context….each of the six chapters is liberal with insight. –Kevin Lucas, Textual Practice, March 2019.

“No-one has better glossed Beckett’s extraordinary–and extraordinary subtle–political intelligence, sensitivity, and scruple. In the spirit of Adorno, this is where Beckett Studies gets real.” –Andrew Gibson, University of London

“More than any other scholar writing today, McNaughton changes the way we read Beckett. This book matters both for what it gives us, and what it deprives us of. After McNaughton, there can be no denying that Beckett worked consciously and consistently at the intersection of ethics, aesthetics, and politics” –Seán Kennedy, Saint Mary’s University, Canada

“A model of critical acumen and assiduous research, Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath is an indispensable book for Beckett specialists and for scholars and students of the wider field of modernism”–Adam Parkes, University of Georgia

Special Issue

  • McNaughton, James with Neil Doshi, eds. “Beckett’s Political Aesthetic on the International Stage.” Special issue, Samuel Beckett Today/Aujuord’hui 31:2 (2019), 183-327.

Public Interviews and Recorded Lecture

Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters

Book and Theater Reviews