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Philip Leonard


School of Arts & Humanities

Staff Group(s)
English, Linguistics and Philosophy


Professor Phil Leonard is Research Coordinator for English and NTU Site Director for the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. He is a specialist in twentieth century and contemporary literature and theory.

Research areas

Professor Leonard's research focuses on globalization, technology, and contemporary literature and theory. His monograph Literature after Globalization: Textuality, Technology,  and the Nation-State (Bloomsbury, 2013) was a Choice Outstanding Academic title.

His most recent monograph is Orbital Poetics: Literature, Theory, World (Bloomsbury, 2019). This book explores conceptions of the world through the history of writing, theory and culture from an orbital perspective. Starting with literary and theoretical writing on satellites, orbit and terrestrial ground from the ancient world to the 21st century, this book casts a revealing new light on what it means to consider literature and culture on a global scale, and explores the idea that the end of the world will come from above. Orbital Poetics considers a wide range of thinkers, writers and texts, from Dante and Goethe to contemporary electronic literature, and writing by Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, and Haruki Murakami. It traces the relationship of world and orbit in philosophical and theoretical work by Agamben, Derrida, Heidegger, Latour, Nancy, Plato, Sloterdijk, Stengers, and Stiegler, and also considers astronaut photography, poetry sent into orbit, and popular culture texts, such as novels by Buzz Aldrin and Tess Gerritsen, and Alfonso Cuarón's film Gravity.

Orbital Poetics is freely available as an Open Access monograph here.

Prof. Leonard co-led (with Dr Eleanor Byrne at Manchester Metropolitan University) the British Academy/Leverhulme-funded Troubling Globalization workshops.

Current and previous Doctoral projects supervised include:

  • Richard Bromhall, Neoliberalism, Class and Resistance in writing in Britain since 2008
  • Ahmad Bilal, Technology, New Media and Film Production in Pakistan
  • Victoria Callus, Paper Cuts: Investigating Paper Affect in Contemporary Experimental
  • Lynda Clark, That's not how it should end: the effect of reader/player responses on the development of narrative
  • Trang Dang, Ecological Awareness in Jeff VanderMeer’s New Weird Fiction
  • Helena Hunter, Algae ecologies: scale, temporality and modes of address in contemporary Anthropocene poetry
  • Thomas Mantzaris, Visuality in Contemporary American Fiction
  • Jean Morris, Promised Lands - A Psycho-social Account of Statelessness
  • Melissa Roddis, Amalgamated Subjects: New Dialogues in Posthumanism, Ecocriticism, and Contemporary Literature
  • Iain Spillman, The Flashing and Fading of Consciousness in Perception': The Fictional Freud in Literature and Theory

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist and Professor Leonard would welcome the opportunity to supervise PhD students in any area that relates to his research. Further information, including details of how to apply, can be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

Professor Leonard is a NTU Site Director for the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Further details about the research funding opportunities provided by this partnership can be found on the M4C website.

He has acted as a referee for a large number of journals, including Theory, Culture & Society, Angelaki, Interventions, Body & Society, and Space and Culture. He has reviewed manuscripts and proposals for Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, Blackwell, Bloomsbury, and Liverpool University Press.

Professor Leonard is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and external examiner for the MLitt in Contemporary Studies at St Andrews University. In 2019, he was elected Chair of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS)

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and former sponsors and partners include:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • British Academy/Leverhulme
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature
  • University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands


Orbital Poetics: Literature, Theory, World Leonard, P, 2019, Bloomsbury

Making sense of the world: literature and globalisation Leonard, P, 2018, in Berthold Schoene & Eileen Pollard (eds), British LIterature in Transition, 1980-2000, Cambridge University Press

Message to the Gods: The Space Poetry that Transcends Human Rivalries Leonard, P. 2018. The Conversation

The global and the neoliberal: Indra Sinha’s Animal’s people, from human community to zones of indistinction Leonard, P. 2016, in Jenni Ramone (ed) Postcolonial texts: new contexts, new narratives, new debates, Bloomsbury

Digital Literary Production and the Humanities Leonard, P. & Rapatzikou, T.GRAMMA: Journal of Theory & Criticism, 2015, 23

Mundane Globalism Leonard, P. 2015. American Book Review, 36 (5)

A Secret Dispersal: Derrida's Satellites Leonard P, Parallax, 2014, 20 (1), 98-111

A Revolution in Code: Hari Kunzru's Transmission and the Cultural Politics of Hacking Leonard P, Textual Practice, 2014, 28  (2), 267-287

Literature after Globalization: Textuality, Technology and the Nation-State Leonard P, 2013, Bloomsbury

Open Networks, Distributed Identities: Cory Doctorow and the Literature of Free Culture Leonard P, Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue, 2012, 15, 9-18

Geopoiesis, or the Responsibility of Literature Leonard P, Oxford Literary Review, 2011, 33 (2), 189-205

See all of Phil Leonard's publications...

Press expertise

Professor Leonard is an expert in the field of contemporary literature, literary and cultural theory, and contemporary continental philosophy. His work focuses on debates about nationality and globalization, technology and digital culture, and orbital culture.