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Will Self joins Brunel University as Professor of Contemporary Thought

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The novelist and journalist Will Self has been appointed Professor of Contemporary Thought, at Brunel University, in West London. He takes up the post on 1 March 2012.

The new chair, created especially for him, spans both the School of Arts and the School of Social Sciences, where he will be teaching undergraduates and taught postgraduate programmes. Courses may include areas of urban planning and human geography, Reading for Writing, and Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society. It is the first time the University has appointed a cross-School position between Arts and Social Sciences; the post reflects Will’s wide talent as an author and a prolific reader.

“I view Brunel as more of a challenge than anything I‘ve undertaken before,” said Will Self. “This is a parlous time for British universities, and I’m absolutely intent on using the post as way of extending, refining, deepening and intensifying the sort of social and political critique present in other areas of my work.”

He added: “Obviously my first priority is to the students and to their intellectual and general development – but I cannot deny that I feel great excitement at the idea of daily contact with burgeoning minds. It often strikes me that satire − which I’m often engaged with – is a young person’s prerogative, and I hope my own work – my engagement with literature, and what it can do and mean – will be influenced by my work at Brunel.”

Will Self is the author of eight novels, five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing. He is a regular contributor to a plethora of publications from Playboy (US), Harpers, and the New York Times to the London Review of Books. He currently writes two fortnightly columns for the New Statesman magazine, and over the years he has been a columnist for the Observer, the Independent, the Times and the Evening Standard.

Self's columns for Building Design on the built environment and for the Independent Magazine on the psychology of place brought him to prominence as a thinker and activist concerned with the politics of urbanity.

He has written about his bizarre “airport walks” in two long essays, “Walking to New York” and “Walking to the World,” and believes that he may well be the only man to have walked from central London to Heathrow Airport and then taken a flight.

He is a regular broadcaster on television and radio, including a recent stint writing and declaiming BBC Radio 4’s A Point of View.

Professor Self will be giving a joint talk entitled “Urban Psychosis", in the university’s public lecture series at its campus in Uxbridge, on 29 March 2012.

Brunel University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Dany Nobus, said, “Will’s intellectual background and interests are so broad that we will be able to benefit from his expertise in various areas of our research and teaching programmes. His presence on campus will be exalting; his multi-disciplinary contributions to academic life an inspiration to all.”

Will Self lives in South London with his wife Deborah Orr, the journalist, and their children.

Notes to Editors

Will Self will be available for interview after 15 February 2012.

For further information, contact the Brunel University Press Office:
Email: press-office@brunel.ac.uk; Tel: +44 (0)1895 274688.

Alternative numbers: Press Office: +44 (0)1895 265098.

Photo: Will Self
Courtesy of Brunel University for press release. Please credit: ©ValerieBennett 2010.

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