Dr Rex Ferguson MA, MLitt, PhD

Photograph of Dr Rex Ferguson

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 113
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


  • MA, University of Glasgow, 2004
  • M.Litt, University of Glasgow, 2006
  • PhD, University of Glasgow, 2009


I have been a member of the English Literature department since 2011. Prior to that, I undertook my undergraduate degree in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of Glasgow in 2004, going on to complete an MLitt degree in ‘Modernities’ and a PhD at the same institution. In September 2010 I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.


I currently teach on the first-year module ‘Prose’ and on my own third-year special option ‘Law and Literature’. I also convene ‘Theories of the Modern’ which runs as part of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century pathway on the MA Literature and Culture.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised students on a range of topics including Modernism and Marketing, the literary impressionism of Freud's writing and the memoirs of Detectives from the early twentieth-century.

I would be very happy to hear from prospective students working in the following areas:

Twentieth-century Fiction
Law and Literature
Education and Literature
Cultural Studies
Philosophical Approaches (especially phenomenological)

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research to date has comprised three main strands. These are:


  1. Law and Literature. Since the publication of my first monograph Criminal Law and the Modernist Novel: Experience on Trial (CUP, 2013), my research has been partly focussed upon the critical intersections between law and literature. I have developed this strand of my research through chapter-length contributions to field-defining publications by major international presses - Cambridge Critical Concepts: Law and Literature (CUP, 2018); The Oxford Handbook of Law and Humanities (OUP, 2019); British Literature in Transition, 1900-1920 (CUP, 2019).
  2. Phenomenology. The second strand of my research stretches back to my academic training in philosophy and is based on the rich opportunities for scholarly study brought about when literary texts are placed in dialogue with the phenomenological thought of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. This work has been advanced through articles based around specific concepts and/or embodied states of being – for example, jealousy, hands, heat and mood – and has appeared in some of the leading peer-reviewed journals in my discipline (Critical Quarterly (2014),Textual Practice (2017), Philosophy and Literature (2017)) and in a chapter-length contribution to a recent collection published by Routledge (2019).
  3. Identification and Identity. The work that has dominated my focus most recently in many ways marries the interests of 1 and 2. There is, clearly, a legal component to the analysis of how identification practices function within society. More importantly, however, is the phenomenological approach which has allowed me to consider how embodied experience is indissolubly connected to a world that is made of a natural environment but also of technologies, social structures, institutional processes and texts. In other words, the experience of being in one’s own body is only precisely what it is because of the culture in which one finds oneself. The central concern of my work on identification has therefore been how objective knowledge (which envisages the individual as an object of information) is involved in the subjective experience of being. The work that I have developed in this strand of my research has come to fruition in a monograph Identification Practices in Twentieth-Century Fiction (OUP, 2021) and an edited collection The Art of Identification: Forensics, Surveillance, Identity (Penn State UP, 2021).

My current research is on literary representations of learning from the 1960s to the present day. I am particularly interested in how these representations connect to theories of learning and to radical educational practices.

Other activities

I am currently Deputy Director of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. 

I regularly act as a reader for Cambridge University Press and for the journals Law and Literature and Modernist Cultures. I am a member of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities and lecture on the Scottish Universities International Summer School.


Recent publications


Ferguson, R 2021, Identification Practices in Twentieth-Century Fiction. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198865568.001.0001

Ferguson, R, Littlefield, MM & Purdon, J (eds) 2021, The Art of Identification: Forensics, Surveillance, Identity. Pennsylvania State University Press. <https://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-09057-3.html#>

Ferguson, R 2013, Criminal Law and the Modernist Novel: Experience on Trial. Cambridge University Press. <https://www.cambridge.org/gb/universitypress/subjects/literature/english-literature-1900-1945/criminal-law-and-modernist-novel-experience-trial>


Ferguson, R 2017, 'In search of lost time and the attunement of jealousy', Philosophy and Literature, vol. 41, no. 1A, pp. 213-232. https://doi.org/10.1353/phl.2017.0031

Ferguson, R 2016, 'Gumbrecht, Faulkner and the presence of heat', Textual Practice, vol. 31, no. 7, pp. 1361-1378. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2016.1237995

Ferguson, R 2014, 'The Literary Hand: Handwriting, Fingerprinting, Typewriting', Critical Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 1, pp. 40-55. https://doi.org/10.1111/criq.12087

Ferguson, R 2013, 'Personal Impressions: Fingerprints, Freud and Literary Impressionism', New Formations, vol. 79.

Ferguson, R 2010, 'From Experience to Expertise: Witnessing in the Criminal Trial and Ford Madox Ford's 'The Good Soldier'', Law and Humanities, vol. 4, no. 2.

Ferguson, R 2009, 'Blind Noise and Deaf Visions: Henry Green's Caught, Synaesthesia and the Blitz', Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 102-116. https://doi.org/10.2979/JML.2009.33.1.102

Sambrook Smith, GH & Ferguson, RI 1995, 'The gravel-sand transition along river channels', Journal of Sedimentary Research A: Sedimentary Petrology &amp; Processes.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Ferguson, R 2019, Registering the charge: mood and Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet. in Mood: interdisciplinary perspectives, new theories. 1st edn, Routledge, London.

Ferguson, R 2019, Trials and the impressionism of advocacy. in S Stern, M Del Mar & B Meyler (eds), Oxford Handbook of Law and Humanities. Oxford Handbooks, Oxford University Press, Oxford. <https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-law-and-humanities-9780190695620>

Ferguson, R 2018, Legal Modernism. in K Dolin (ed.), Law and Literature. Cambridge Critical Concepts, Cambridge University Press.


Ferguson, R, Clark, JFM & Scanlan, J 2013, Gatsby and Garbage. in J Scanlan & J Clark (eds), Aesthetic Fatigue: Modernity and the Language of Waste. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pp. 206-219.

View all publications in research portal