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Professor Arthur Bradley


Arthur Bradley

Lancaster University

County College



Tel: +44 1524 594761


I am Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of English & Creative Writing at Lancaster University. In recent years, I have also held visiting positions at the University of Durham and the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. 

I work at the intersection between comparative literature, philosophy, theology and political theory. To begin with my most recent work, my monograph Unbearable Life: A Genealogy of Political Erasure appeared in the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series with Columbia University Press in 2019. In a series of readings of the political theological tradition from Augustine of Hippo, through Shakespeare, Hobbes, Robespierre, Benjamin and Schmitt, up to Foucault, Unbearable Life argues that sovereignty is neither the power to make die and let live (as the ancient Roman formula puts it) nor the power to make live and let die (as Foucault’s reversal of the Roman dictum puts it) but the power to make life neither live nor die. 

I am the author of 4 earlier monographs. Firstly, Negative Theology and Modern French Philosophy (London: Routledge, 2004) explores the place of negative theology in the work of Jacques Derrida, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault and Jean-Luc Marion. Secondly, Derrida’s Of Grammatology: An Indiana Philosophical Guide (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008) is the first critical guide to one of Jacques Derrida’s most significant and influential works. To turn to my more recent work, The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy and Polemic after 9/11 (Bloomsbury, 2010) (co-author Andrew Tate) is an analysis of the literary reception of the “New Atheism” in the work of such novelists as Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. This book was described as 'paradigm-shifting' by the Times Higher Education Supplement and it has also been positively reviewed in The Journal of Modern LiteratureChoiceReligious Studies Review and the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Finally, Originary Technicity: The Theory of Technology from Marx to Derrida (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) is a genealogy of deconstructive philosophy of technology and includes readings of Marx and Engels, Freud, Heidegger, Lacan, Derrida and Stiegler. In his endorsement, J. Hillis Miller describes it as 'essential reading' and the book has also been positively reviewed in Radical Philosophy, Choice, The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory and New Formations.

I have also published articles and essays in The Review of Politics, Telos, Security Dialogue, Paragraph, Textual PracticeProblemiPolitical Theology, Journal for Cultural Research and Literature and Theology amongst other journals. I have also co-edited 2 collections of essays on the messianic in contemporary philosophy: The Politics to Come: Power, Modernity and the Messianic (London: Bloomsbury 2010) and The Messianic Now: Religion, Politics, Culture (London: Routledge, 2011). In recent years, I have given keynote, plenary and invited lectures at the Institute of Philosophy, Ljubljana, the University of Toronto, Georgetown University, the University of Geneva, the University of Uppsala, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Cracow and Charles University amongst others.

In 2020, I am working on a number of research projects, including a new monograph provisionally entitled In the Theatre of Sovereignty. I am also co-editing a new book series with Ward Blanton (Kent), Michael Dillon (Lancaster) and Yvonne Sherwood (Kent) entitled Political Theologies (Bloomsbury). This series publishes new and classic works on political theology by Massimo Cacciari, Elettra Stimilli, Hent de Vries, Michel de Certeau, Regis Debray and Andrew Gibson amongst others. Please see the series website for further information: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/series/political-theologies/.




Unbearable Life: A Genealogy of Political Erasure (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019), pp. 272.

Originary Technicity: The Theory of Technology from Marx to Derrida (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. viii +202.

The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy and Polemic after 9/11 (co-authored with Andrew Tate) (London: Bloomsbury, 2010), pp. ix +136.

Derrida’s Of Grammatology: An Indiana Philosophical Guide (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), pp. 166.

Negative Theology and Modern French Philosophy (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. xiii + 244.

Select edited books: 

The Messianic Now: Religion, Philosophy, Culture ed. by Arthur Bradley and Paul Fletcher (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. vi + 208.

The Politics to Come: Power, Modernity and the Messianic ed. by Arthur Bradley and Paul Fletcher (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. xii + 225.

Edited special issues of journals:

'Carl Schmitt, Political Theology and Modernity'.Special issue of The Journal for Cultural Research ed. by Arthur Bradley, Antonio Cerella and William Rasch 20: 3 (2016), pp. 328.

'The Messianic Now'. Special double issue of The Journal for Cultural Research ed. by Arthur Bradley and Paul Fletcher 13: 3-4 (2009), pp. 208.

Select recent journal articles and chapters:

'Human Interest: Offspring of Usury from Luther to Bentham'. Theory, Culture & Society. (Forthcoming, 2021).

'Terrors of Theory: Critical Theory of Terror from Kojève to Žižek'. Telos. 190 (Spring 2020): 157-176.

‘Lacan’s War Games: Cybernetics, Sovereignty and War in Seminar II’. Filosofski Vestnik. 40: 1 (2019), pp. 89-107.

'Deadly Force: Contract, Killing, Sacrifice'. Security Dialogue. 50: 4 (2019) pp. 331–343.

'Dismembered: Citizen Sacrifice in Rousseau's "The Levite of Ephraim"'. The Review of Politics. 81: 2 (2019) pp. 231-53.

‘Jus Puniendi: La questione della pena in Foucault, Agamben ed Esposito’ in Teologie e Politica: Genealogia e Actualita ed. Elettra Stimilli (Roma: Quodlibet, 2019), pp. 105-26. 

'Illusions of the Future: Ishiguro, Liberalism, Political Theology'. Political Theology 19: 7 (2018). pp. 1-5

'In the Sovereign Machine: Sovereignty, Governmentality, Automaticity’. Journal for Cultural Research22 (3) (2018), 209-223

‘Accelerator despite itself: Credo, Crisis, Katechon’ in Credo, Credit, Crisis: Reflections on Faith and Money ed. by Aidan Tynan, Laurent Milesi and Christopher John Müller (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017), pp. 65-84.

'Odnarejeno: Benjamin in prihodnost preteklosti’. Problemi, 55: 3-4 (2017), 177–199.

‘Let the Lord the Judge be Judge: Hobbes and Locke on Jephthah, Liberalism, Martyrdom’. Law, Culture and the Humanities, May 16, 2017. DOI: 10.1177/1743872117708352.


2016: Award of £1,829. Principal Investigator on ‘Futures of Political Theology: A Research Collaboration between Lancaster University and the Scuola Normale Superiore’. Faculty Research Internationalization Fund. 

2016: Award of £2,455. Principal Investigator on ‘The Body of War: Drones and Lone Wolves.’ Faculty Research Fund. 

2010: Award of £97, 408. Co-investigator on 'Islamism in Arabic Fiction and Film’. AHRC/ESRC Religion & Society Programme. Research outcomes included: online database; 2 scholarly articles and a major international conference.

2007: Award of £4,000. Principal investigator on 'The Messianic Now: Religion, Philosophy, Politics’. Lancaster University Small Grants Scheme. Research outcomes included: international conference; special issue of Journal of Cultural Research (Taylor & Francis) and edited collection (Continuum).


'Human Interest: On Usury in Luther, Calvin and Bentham.' Sovereignty: Secular and Sacred. International symposium. Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät der Universität Wien. University of Vienna, 2020.

'In the Sovereign Machine: Sovereignty, Governmentality, Automaticity’. Derrida and Technology/Derrida et technologie. Columbia Global Center. Paris. 2019.

'Terrors of Theory: Kojève, Levinas, Blanchot, Žižek’. The End(s) of Political Theology. International symposium. Institute of Philosophy. Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ljubljana, Slovenia. 2018.

'What is a Slave? Genealogy of an Artificial Life'. Artificial Lives: Imagining Life. International symposium. University of Sussex, 2017.

‘Terrors of Theory: Between Kojève and Žižek’. Thinking the Event: Politics, Philosophy, Culture. Doctoral workshop. University of Agder, Norway, 2017.

‘Uncommon: Hobbes and Theoliberalism’. Agamben and Decadence. Interntional symposium. University of Nottingham, 2017.

'Futures of the Past; Benjamin, Psychonanalysis, Messianism'. Transformations of Psychoanalysis, Doctoral workshop. University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016.

'Undone: Benjamin and the Past to Come'. Conference Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale. University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2016.

'Uncommonwealth: The Martyr and the Subject in Hobbes'. School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Qatar, 2015.

'Accelerator Despite Itself? Paul, Schmitt and the Katechon'. Respondents: Oliver Davies (KCL) and Michael Scott (LSE). Paul, Wonder and World. Workshop. Kihg's College London, 2015.

‘Understanding the World: Religious and Secular Perspectives’. Discussion with Kenan Malik. LSE Space for Thought Festival. London School of Economics, 2014.

'Cities of Cacus: Sovereignty, Monstrosity and Terror’. University of Toronto, Canada, 2013.

'Incorruptible: On Terror’s Two Bodies’. Terrorism and the Literary Imagination. International symposium. University of Uppsala, Sweden, 2012

'Unbearable Life: Literature, Sovereignty, Biopolitics’. Desire, Literature, Culture. International symposium. University of Malta, 2012.  

'"Untimely Ripp’d": Shakespeare, Sovereignty and Unbearable Life’. Shakespeare’s Imagined Orient. International symposium. American University of Beirut, Lebanon, 2011. 

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