- (205) 348-4177
- 223 English Building
- PhD, English, University of Michigan
- Irish studies
- International Modernisms
- Critical Theory
I joined UA English in 2007 and teach courses in Irish studies and modernism, postcolonial and critical theory. I’m particularly interested in experimental literary and artistic forms, how such works help us to diagnose the cultural, political, and economic systems we inhabit. In 2013, I was awarded the University of Alabama’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. I serve on the editorial advisory board of Modern Fiction Studies. I founded UA in Ireland.
I take an immanent approach to literary writing both in the classroom and in scholarship. This means I like when we read works very closely and sympathetically, unfold them initially in their own terms, yet pay careful attention to the contradictions within the work itself and between the work and the world. This kind of interpretation is useful for recognizing an artwork’s political aesthetic. It opens up literature to history through aesthetic form. And it also allows us to ask how literary works change meaning, or even cease to mean, as the world in which they are encountered changes. I model this approach in my book, Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath (Oxford University Press, 2018), which elaborates Beckett’s political imagination response to Irish liberation, Nazism, Stalinism, and Vichy France. In 2019, I co-edited a collection of essays on Beckett’s work that investigates its influence in other charged political situations: in North Africa, say, or in the Middle East.
I also write on Irish poetry and visual art. And I write essays as well.
I have several projects under way. Among them, I’m co-writing a book on Todd Phillips’ Joker, which reads the film to elaborate the function of melodrama in neoliberal economic theory and the recent global authoritarian turn. I’m finishing a project on Casement, Joyce, and Beckett that tracks their works’ responses to rubber genocides: from the Congo to the Peruvian Amazon to Auschwitz. And I have edited and introduced an art book Sean Hillen: In-sufficient Evidence that currently seeks a publisher.
- Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
- 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
- Interview: Boston Athenaeum, July’s Athenaeum Author, July 2019.
- Lecture: Radio Broadcast on WBUR Boston (NPR): “Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath,” Boston University World of Ideas, 9 December 9-10 pm, rebroadcast 27 Jan 2019. Lecture hosted by Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies, the Center for the Study of Europe, and the Institute for the Study of Irish Culture at Boston University, November 2018.
- Interview: “Samuel Beckett and the Problem of Political Propaganda,” hosted by Phillip Adams, Late Night Live, Australian Broadcast Corporation, Sept 2018.
Articles and Book Chapters
- “Erudition and Ignorance,” The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Beckett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
- “Political Beckett! State of the field,” Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui 34 (2022): 347-360.
- “Sean Hillen, Conspiracy, and the Ends of Irish Art,” Irish Studies Review 29 (2021): 84-105.
- “Choose Your Horror: An Introduction to Beckett’s Political Aesthetic on the International Stage,” Samuel Beckett Today/Aujuord’hui 31:2 (2019): 183-199.
- “Operating Theater in Galway: Review of Beckett’s Lessness presented by Olwen Fouéré, Galway International Arts Festival, 2015.” Journal of Beckett Studies, 25.2 (2016), 294-299.
- “Samuel Beckett’s ‘Echo’s Bones’: Politics and Entailment in the Irish Free-State.” Modern Fiction Studies 60.2 (Summer 2014), 320-344.
- “Thomas MacGreevy’s Poetics of Loss: War, Sexuality, and Archive.” Journal of Modern Literature 35.4 (2012), 130-150.
- “The Politics of Aftermath: Beckett, Modernism, and the Free State.” Beckett and Ireland: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010, 56-77.
- “Beckett’s ‘Brilliant Obscurantics’: Watt and the Problem of Propaganda.” Samuel Beckett: History, Memory, Archive. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 47-69.
- “Beckett, German Fascism, and History: The Futility of Protest.” Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui 15 (2005), 101-116.
- “Theodor Adorno to Flann O’Brien.” The Lost Letters of Flann O’Brien. The Pen and Pencil Gallery, 2021.
- “A Marvellous Gun Unshot.” Southern Cultures (Summer 2016), 105-112.
- “The Impoverishment of Commonsense: Memorials and Ghosts in Tuscaloosa” The Alabama Humanities Review. Winner of 1st Runner up for the Seaman/ Whetsone Award, granted by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
- “‘What it is to see’: Beckett’s Thing: Painting and Theatre by David Lloyd,” Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, November 2018.
- “Biography, Aesthetics, and Beckett’s Inauthentic Self”: Samuel Beckett’s German Diaries (Continuum, 2012) by Mark Nixon. Journal of Beckett Studies, 22.2 (2013), 235-240.
- Samuel Beckett in the Literary Marketplace (Syracuse 2011). Cercles October 2011. Web.
- Samuel Beckett and the Problem of Irishness (Palgrave 2009). Modernism/ modernity 17.3 (2010), 704-706. Print.
- The Letters of Samuel Beckett. Volume 1: 1929-1940 (Cambridge 2009). Modernism/ modernity 17.2 (2010), 454-456. Print.