Steven Connor

I was born in Bognor Regis, Sussex, in 1955. From 1966 to 1972 I attended Christ’s Hospital School, where I learned to play the guitar by copying Roger Allam. The motto over the Library door read Turpe nescire. Following my expulsion, I spent a year at Bognor Regis Comprehensive School, from where, in 1973, I went to Wadham College, Oxford, to read English, with Terry Eagleton as my tutor. After completing my BA, I began work towards a DPhil. For about a month, infatuated by Kathleen Coburn’s account of her work on Coleridge’s Notebooks, I worked on Coleridge. Then I spent more than a year reading Victorian children’s literature, attempting to make stick on George Macdonald and weird Lucy Clifford the sort of relentless structuralist analysis advanced persons went in for in those days. Finally, in 1980, I wrote a DPhil thesis on Prose Fantasy and Mythography. I was appointed Lecturer in English at Birkbeck College, London in the same year. My contract said I was to conduct research leading to publication, which I thought meant you had to. Two weeks before my mother died of lung cancer, she resolved, after a lifetime of futile abstention, to have a go at becoming an alcoholic. I did what I could, squirting vodka and orange from a baby-syringe into her numbed mouth, but she had put it off too long. Time passed. In 1987, an editor at Blackwell publishers remarked to me how much he would love it if he could persuade someone to write a book with the words ‘theory’, ‘introduction’ and ‘postmodernism’ in the title. In 1989, my Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary was published. More of the time thing went on. In 1992 I became involved in the planning of an interdisciplinary graduate programme to be taught in collaboration between Birkbeck College, the then Tate Gallery, the British Film Institute and the Architectural Association. The London Consortium began operations in 1993. In 2000 my book Dumbstruck appeared, and I thought it had a look of me. Things were going to be different from now on, apart from the time thing obviously. I succeeded Paul Hirst as the Academic Director of the London Consortium in 2002. I stopped doing that in 2012, when I left Birkbeck to take up a post in Cambridge, and the Consortium stopped doing anything. In Cambridge I was Grace 2 Professor (sometimes humiliatingly mis-spelled as ‘Grade 2 Professor’) of English, and, from 2018 to 2022,  Director of CRASSH, the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. I moved on from Cambridge to King’s College London in January 2023.