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Jonathan Basile is a Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the intersection of modernist literature, literary theory, and the life sciences. His work engages in contemporary debates around ecocriticism, the Anthropocene, and new materialism by examining the reliance of scientific discourse on narrative techniques that are placed on stage in modernist texts.
In his time as a research fellow, he has elaborated his dissertation into two book manuscripts that are currently in the review process. The first, Virality Vitality, investigates synthetic biology, synthetic virology, and de-extinction, to demonstrate that everything from contemporary political exigencies to Abrahamic and Aristotelian legacies shape scientific representations of nature, matter, and life. The second, Natural Lection: Cultures of Evolution, turns to discourses by evolutionary scientists who hope to make the study of human culture scientific, in order to demonstrate that the basic concerns of humanities disciplines, including translation and untranslatability, cultural, sexual, and racial difference, and historical discontinuity overdetermine our attempts at systematic scientific knowledge.
He is also the creator of an online universal library modeled after Borges’s “The Library of Babel,” libraryofbabel.info. This project has been the basis of his engagement with the digital humanities, by searching for elements in modernist literature that interrogate the nature and limits of algorithmic thought.
“Other Matters: Karen Barad’s Two Materialisms and the Science of Undecidability.” Angelaki, 25(5), 2020: 3-18. DOI: 10.1080/0969725X.2020.180713.
“Life/Force: Novelty and New Materialism in Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter.” SubStance, 48(2), 2019: 3-22. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/731485.
“The New Novelty: Corralation as Quarantine in Speculative Realism and New Materialism.” Derrida Today 11, no. 2, 2018: 211–29. DOI:
“Misreading Generalised Writing: From Foucault to Speculative Realism and New Materialism.” Oxford Literary Review 40, no. 1, 2018: 20–37. DOI:10.3366/olr.2018.0236.
Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality. Punctum Books, 2018. [Portuguese translation: Massa por Argamassa: A “Biblioteca de Babel” e o Sonho de Totalidade. Punctum Books, 2019.]