Concordia University

Nathan Brown, PhD

Associate Professor, English
Canada Research Chair in Poetics, English
Director, Centre for Expanded Poetics, English

Office: S-LB 683-02 
J.W. McConnell Building,
1400 De Maisonneuve W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2368
Website(s): Centre for Expanded Poetics

My research moves between poetics, philosophy, and science/technology studies, investigating conceptual and material determinations of structure and form. Recently my published work has also focused on contemporary art, film, photography, and communist theory.

During the winter semester of 2019 I will be on sabbatical, completing a translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and beginning a book project titled Baudelaire's Shadow: Toward a Theory of Poetic Determination. In May 2019 I will be an International Fellow at the University of Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study. 

I have recently completed a book manuscript titled Rationalist Empiricism: A Theory of Speculative Critique. While the claims of "speculation" and "critique" have often been opposed in recent discussions of post-Kantian and contemporary philosophy, I excavate their deeper methodological complicity by analyzing the mutually constraining and generative force that reason and experience exert upon one another in the history of philosophy. If the project of Kantian critique was to displace the opposition of rationalism and empiricism through transcendental philosophy, I am concerned with what happens to the relationship between those methodological poles when transcendental idealism is itself submitted to critique, beginning with Hegel's speculative dialectic. Moving through Plato, Descartes and Hume, Hegel, Marx, Bachelard, Althusser, Badiou, and Meillassoux -- with discussions of epistemology, art, and politics -- I aim to theorize the manner in which the mutually critical relation of reason and experience generates forms of speculative thinking that are both non-dogmatic and ungrounded by the transcendental. 
My first book, The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science, Materialist Poetics (Fordham UP) studies concepts of form and practices of fabrication in nanoscale materials science and materialist poetics. I offer a renewed consideration of poiesis as "making" and a materialist account of poetry as a form of building, examining the manner in which such poets as Charles Olson, Ronald Johnson, Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, and Shanxing Wang have developed formal models in conversation with quantum mechanics, cybernetics, geodesic architecture, biotechnology, crystallography, and nanotechnology, while also tracking the pertinence of these fields to structural models at issue in materials science and engineering. My questions are: how do shared concepts of form and approaches to fabrication bear upon material making in poetry and science? What are the philosophical and ideological stakes of understanding their discrepancies and their confluence?

With Petar Milat, I am the coordinator of an ongoing series of symposia in Zagreb and Dubrovnik, titled Conjuncture--21st Century Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetics. Continuing since 2009, these events have resulted in two edited volumes, The Art of the Concept (2013) and Poiesis (2017). 


PhD, University of California at Los Angeles (2008)
MA, Queen's University (2002)
BAH, Queen's University (2001)

Fields of research and teaching

20th and 21st Century Poetry and Poetics
Modern Philosophy and Critical Theory
Science/Technology Studies
Marxism and Political Theory

Selected honours and awards

Canada Research Chair in Poetics, Tier II (2015-2020)
Hellman Fellowship for distinguished junior faculty (2013-2014)
Distinguished Teaching Award Nominee, UC Davis (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Chancellor's Fellowship, Graduate Division, UCLA (2007-2008)
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2002-2006)
Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2001-2002)

The Limits of Fabrication
The Art of the Concept

Teaching activities

Graduate courses (Literature & Theory)

Modernist Architecture, Capitalist Planning, and Poetic Critique:  Remaking Place Ville-Marie (2017/18)
Blackness, Freedom, Free Verse (2016/17)
Structure / Form (2015/16)
Expanded Poetics (2014/15)
Modernity in Contradiction: Real Subsumption and Modernist Poetics (2013/14)
Postmodernity, Not Yet: Culture at the Terminus of Capital (2012/13)
The Real Movement of History: Left Communism and the Communization Current (2011/12)
Objects in Field: The Poetry and Poetics of Charles Olson (2010/11)
 Introduction to Critical Theory (2009/10)
21st Century Poetry and Poetics (2008/09)

Graduate reading courses (Philosophy)

Lacan, Seminar - Book III (2017/2018)
Social Death and Afro-Pessimism: Patterson, Hartman, Wilderson (2016/2017)
Marx, Capital, Vol. 1 (2015/16)
Heidegger, Being and Time (2014/15)
Hegel, Science of Logic (2013/14)
Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (2012/13)
The Modern Subject: Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant (2011/12)
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (2010/11)
Badiou, Being and Event (2008/09)



The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science, Materialist Poetics
(New York: Fordham University Press, 2017). 
   *Review by Tom Eyers in Boundary2 Online
Review by Charles Altieri in American Literary History
*Review by Matthew Paskins, British Society for Literature and Science

Poiesis, Ed. Nathan Brown and Petar Milat (MaMa, 2017) PDF Link

January (Berlin: Broken Dimanche Press, 2016). 
Review by Tom Lordon.

Edited Special Issues and Forums

Forum on Audrey Wasser's The Work of Difference, Ed. Nathan Brown, Syndicate (May 2018). Link

Expanded Poetics, Ed. Nathan Brown, Special Feature in The Volta (March 2016). Link

The Art of the Concept, Ed. Nathan Brown and Petar Milat, Special Issue of Frakcija: Performing Arts Journal 64-65 (2013). PDF

Articles and Book Chapters

"Postmodernity, Not Yet: Toward a New Periodization," Radical Philosophy 2.01 (February 2018): 11-27. PDF Link

"Hegel's Kilogram: On the Measure of Metrical Units," Azimuth 10, Special Issue on The Technophysics of Space (2017): 59-75. PDF

"More Beautiful, More Intense? H.D.'s Poetics of Comparison" in Poiesis, Ed. Nathan Brown and Petar Milat (MaMa, 2017). PDF

"The Logic of Disintegration: On the Art Practice of Alexi Kukuljevic," Boundary2 Online (Jan. 2017). LINK

"Avoiding Communism: A Critique of Inventing the Future, Parrhesia 20 (2016): 155-171. PDF

"The Irony of Anatomy: Basquiat's Poetics of Black Positionality," Radical Philosophy 195 (Jan/Feb 2016): 11-24.

"Hegel's Cogito: On the Genetic Epistemology of Critical Metaphysics," Parrhesia 20 (2014): 49-61. PDF

"The Technics of Prehension: On the Photography of Nicolas Baier" in The Lure of Whitehead, Ed. Nicholas Gaskill and Adam Nocek (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). PDF

"The Distribution of the Insensible," Mute (Winter 2014). PDF LINK

"Framing Modernity: Sam Lewitt's Aesthetics of Saturation" in Fluid Employment, Ed. Sam Lewitt (Sequence Press, 2013). PDF

"The Proletariat," Transcripts 3 (2013). PDF

"Origin and Extinction, Mourning and Melancholia: On Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life and Lars von Trier's Melancholia," Mute (Fall 2012). PDF  LINK

"Rational Kernel, Real Movement: Alain Badiou and Théorie Communiste in the Age of Riots," Lana Turner 5 (Fall 2012). LINK

"Red Years: Althusser's Lesson, Rancière's Error, and the Real Movement of History," Radical Philosophy 170 (Nov/Dec 2011). PDF

"Absent Blue Wax (Rationalist Empiricism)," Qui Parle 19.1 (Fall/Winter 2010). PDF

"The Speculative and the Specific: On Hallward and Meillassoux" in The Speculative Turn, Ed. Levi Bryant, Graham Harman, Nick Srnicek (re:press, 2010). PDF

"Objects that Matter: Olson, Bergvall, and the Poetics of Articulation," How2 3.3. (Winter 2010). PDF  LINK

"Immortality by Design," Parallax 14.3 (August 2008), 4-20. PDF

"The Inorganic Open: Nanotechnology and Physical Being," Radical Philosophy 144 (July/Aug 2007). PDF

Reviews, Responses, Interviews, Translations

"In Memory of Photography: Nicolas Baier's Asterisms" in Nicolas Baier, Edited by Dominique Myrand and Dominique Toutant (Division Gallery, 2017), pp. 96-100. LINK

"The Factial," Translation of excerpt from Quentin Meillassoux's doctoral dissertation, L'Inexistence Divine, Parrhesia 20 (2016): 20-40. PDF

"Speculation at the Crossroads," Review of Tristan Garcia's Form and Object in Radical Philosophy 188 (Nov/Dec 2014): 47-50. PDF

"The Nadir of OOO: From Graham Harman's Tool-Being to Timothy Morton's Realist Magic," Parrhesia 17 (2013). PDF

"Next to Now," Review of Colin Milburn's Nanovision in Radical Philosophy 155 (May/June 2009). PDF

"To Live Without an Idea," Review of Martin Hägglund's Radial Atheism in Radical Philosophy (Mar/Apr 2009). PDF 

"The Function of Digital Poetry at the Present Time," Response to N. Katherine Hayles in Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary (2008). LINK

"The Politics of Error: An Interview with Shanxing Wang," Jacket 34 (Oct 2007). LINK

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