- PhD, English, University of Michigan
- 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.
- Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 2018.
“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
- 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, Essays, and Book Chapters
- “Choose Your Horror: An Introduction to Beckett’s Political Aesthetic on the International Stage,” Samuel Beckett Today/Aujuord’hui 31:2 (2019): 183-200.
- “A Marvellous Gun Unshot.” Southern Cultures (Summer 2016), 105-112.
- “Samuel Beckett’s ‘Echo’s Bones’: Politics and Entailment in the Irish Free-State.” Modern Fiction Studies 60.2 (Summer 2014), 320-344.
- “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.
- “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.
Book and Theater Reviews
- “‘What it is to see’: Beckett’s Thing: Painting and Theatre by David Lloyd,” Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, November 2018.
- “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.
- “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.