Alex Thomson

Senior Lecturer


Dr Alex Thomson has been at the University of Edinburgh since January 2006. From 2010 to 2014 he was Postgraduate Director of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

After completing his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2001, Alex Thomson held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, before appointments as a lecturer at the University of Bristol and the University of Glasgow. Between July 1999 and January 2001, he was editor of Edinburgh Review.

He also holds an MA (Hons) in English and Scottish Literature from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in English Literature from the University of Sussex.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Contemporary Scottish Fiction
  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • Scottish Literature 2

Areas of interest for supervision

Dr Thomson is currently supervising projects on:

  • T.E. Hulme;
  • the idea of the canon in recent literary theory;
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay & Edwin Morgan;
  • Gael Turnbull and Ian Hamilton Finlay;
  • Hamish Henderson;
  • Norman McCaig.

Current PhD students supervised

Christos Hadjiyiannis - A Re-examination of the work of T.E. Hulme

Corey Gibson - Endless Flyting: The Formulation of Hamish Henderson’s Cultural Politics

Silvia Villa - The Concept of Canon in Literary Studies: Critical Debates 1970-2000

Greg Thomas - Concrete Poetry in England and Scotland 1962-1975: Ian Hamilton Finlay, Edwin Morgan, Dom Sylvester Houedard and Bob Cobbing.

Lila Matsumoto - Poetic Experiments and Transnational Exchange: the little magazines Migrant (1959-60) and Poor.Old.Tired.Horse (1962-67).

Nathalie Ingrassia - Norman MacCaig and the Fascination of Existence

Research summary

Dr Alex Thomson's general research interests lie in literature and philosophy since the romantic period. In particular he works on 19th and 20th century Scottish literature and thought, in continental philosophy, and in political theory.

He has written books on the thought of Jacques Derrida and Theodor Adorno. Particular interests at the moment are the history of Scottish philosophy since the Enlightenment, the relationship between devolution and contemporary Scottish literature, the poetry and influence of Hugh MacDiarmid in Britain.

Dr Thomson remains interested in the possibilities of dialogue between the tradition of modern social and political theory and the post-phenomenological tradition in twentieth century French thought, and in the so-called agonist and realist challenges to liberal political philosophy - but equally in what continental thinkers might learn from the liberal side.

Dr Thomson is happy to supervise research in any area of modern or contemporary Scottish Literature, but particularly in twentieth century Scottish fiction and poetry, in Scottish modernism, and in the history of ideas in Scotland. He also welcomes proposals relating to my interests in twentieth century French thought, in the work of the Frankfurt School, as well as interdisciplinary projects linking literature to philosophy and/or political theory.

Research activities

View all 32 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

  • In the field of 19th century Scottish literature I am currently editing Memories and Portraits for the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, to be published by Edinburgh University Press. Dr Thomson has published an essay on Stevenson's use of familiar style in this volume of essays, as well as book chapters on Stevenson's reception, and on politics, history and literature in Treasure Island. As co-director of the Scottish Writing in the Nineteenth Century project, I work with Professor Penny Fielding to oversee a programme of research seminars and public engagement events, as well as a regular staff-postgraduate reading group.
  • Dr Thomson's interests in international modernism, and in twentieth century literature, are reflected in my recent essay on Hugh MacDiarmid and Wyndham Lewis in an issue of Modernist Cultures on 'Ex-centric Modernisms', co-edited with Matthew Creasy, as well as in my long-term involvement with the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies, of which I am currently the Chair.
  • Alongside Benjamin Arditi, and Andrew Schaap, Dr Thomson is series editor for the Edinburgh University Press series Taking on the Political, publishing new work in political theory that draws on the tradition of continental political thought.

View all 16 publications on Research Explorer