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Dr Dj Pugh

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Department of English Studies
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


I arrived at Durham in 2019, following a PhD and a Junior Research Fellowship at Cambridge University. 

My current project aims to create new connections between literary criticism and psychotherapy. Our often reductive formulation of such connections—exemplified by recent debates about ‘symptomatic reading’—has narrowed the possibilities for a genuinely pluralistic interplay between the two fields. Working both with psychoanalysis and with therapeutic modalities neglected by the humanities, my focus is on the therapeutic relationship—not only in its hermeneutic but its emotional and creative dimensions—as a potentially valuable resource for literary studies.

I also have a longstanding interest in the history and sociology of literary institutions. My doctoral thesis considered the changing positions of literary magazines, publishing houses and creative writing programs in the American literary field since 1960, drawing on Max Weber’s sociology of charismatic authority. Current projects in this area include a short book on contemporary small-press fiction for CUP's 'Elements in Publishing and Book Culture' series, and chapters on digital publishing for the Cambridge Companions to the American and British Essay. 

Broader areas of interest include psychoanalysis, continental philosophy, the intellectual history of literary criticism since the early twentieth century, and various forms of creative nonfiction, especially autotheory, the lyric essay, and personal narratives of trauma and recovery.

At Durham I teach widely across twentieth- and twenty-first century literature and theory, and lead a third-year special topic on ‘Literary Institutions’. From 2021/22 I will co-convene a new MA module in 'Creative Nonfiction' with colleagues in Creative Writing. I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students in any of the above fields.


Supervision students