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Étienne Poulard


Position: Postgraduate Researcher Email:
Area: English Literature

PhD Research

Untimely Aesthetics: Shakespeare, Anachronism and Presence

My thesis looks at ideas of presence in mass entertainment, with a large focus on Shakespeare. Anachronisms, in literary texts and in popular culture, question common assumptions about presence. Such ontological trembling is powerfully illustrated in Shakespeare’s work - and especially in Henry V, Hamlet and Julius Caesar. The self-reflexive historicity of these plays prompts reflections on the mediated nature of literature and its intrinsic performativity. Any invocation of the past inevitably relies on mental constructs and archetypes that preclude immediacy. Central to the thesis is the notion that, by meditating on their own failure to conjure up presence, the dramas develop a literary aesthetics of alienation. Viewed from our own postmodern moment (or post-postmodern, some would argue), untimeliness features as a key factor in the aesthetics of literature. The same aesthetic phenomenon can be observed in much contemporary culture, which often relies on the staging of its structural disjointedness for artistic purposes.

Supervisor: Dr Melanie Bigold, Dr Neil Badmington

Academic Background

MA in English Literature (Distinction), Cardiff University, 2009
BA in English Literature (1st Class Hons.), Cardiff University, 2007



  • 'Looking Through Shakespeare: Žižek and the Interpassive Subject', English Studies (2013)
  • 'Shakespeare's Politics of Invisibility: Power and Ideology in The Tempest', International Journal of Žižek Studies (IJŽS) 4(1) (2010)
  • 'Forêt Nagasaki', Gaia Scienza, vol. 4 (2011)
  • 'The Da Vinci Skull', Gaia Scienza, vol. 3 (2010)
  • 'La professionnalisation de l'absurde' (co-written with Dr Rabbit), Gaia Scienza, vol. 1 (2010)

Theatre and book reviews

  • Review of Macbeth, directed by Declan Donnellan for Cheek by Jowl at the Silk Street Theatre, Barbican Centre, London, March–April 2010, Shakespeare 7(1) (2011)
  • Review of On Anachronism by Jeremy Tambling, Textual Practice 25(4) (2011)


  • 'And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you', a short reflection on Nietzsche's aphorism, SAGEBITES: reflections on quotations for life (2011)

Note: all articles and reviews are available to read online on

Conferences, Symposia and Seminars

In June 2010, I gave a paper at the ‘Medieval and Early Modern Authorship’ conference (Geneva), organised by the Swiss Association of Medieval and Early Modern English Studies. The paper was part of a larger panel examining issues of authorship and authority in Shakespeare’s plays.


I teach first and second year seminars in English Literature and Cultural Criticism in ENCAP.