Prof Nikolaj Lübecker

Nikolaj Lübecker, D.E.A. and Ph.D. (Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot), M.A. (University of Copenhagen)
Professor of French and Film Studies, Fellow of St John's College


My research interests include avant-garde literature and culture, critical theory, and contemporary cinema. 

At the moment I am interested various aspects of what has been labelled ‘the nonhuman turn’ in the humanities: theoretical texts that seek to respond to recent technological and ecological developments in our society. In a number of articles and shorter projects, I am putting this corpus into dialogue with either (1) mid- to late 19th century French poets such as Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Verlaine, or (2) contemporary avant-garde filmmakers and artists such as Chantal Akerman, Jean-Claude Rousseau and James Benning. I am also interested in the ‘prehistory’ of this nonhuman turn in texts by philosophers such as Gilbert Simondon and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

I have written three monographs. The first considered the relationship between literature and society in the work of Stéphane Mallarmé; a second book studied ideas of community in texts by André Breton, Georges Bataille, Jean-Paul Sartre and Roland Barthes. My most recent book examines a number of contemporary filmmakers — Bruno Dumont, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Harmony Korine, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier among others — who have all made films that place the spectator in a position of intense discomfort: ‘feel-bad films’. I ask: What do the directors believe they can achieve via the ‘feel-bad’ experience? And (why) should we watch and study feel-bad films?

Undergraduate teaching

19th, 20th and 21st century French literature, literary theory and film studies.

Graduate teaching and supervision

I teach on the MSt in Film Aesthetics (modules such as ‘film and phenomenology’, ‘contemporary theories of spectatorship’ and ‘film and the nonhuman’) and on the core course for the MSt in Modern Languages (‘Key Questions in Critical Thought’). I am happy to hear from students who work in fields of film studies (in particular experimental and art cinema), contemporary critical theory (for instance eco-, technology and affect theory) and the historical avant-garde.

I currently supervise two PhD-students:

Madeleine Chalmers: Unruly technics in the French literary avant-garde: technological writings of the Third Republic and their afterlives in contemporary thought.

McNeil TaylorThe Masochistic Anthropocene in Contemporary Slow Cinema.



The Feel-Bad Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (2015)

Community, Myth and Recognition in 20th Century French Literature and Thought. London: Continuum. (2009)

Le Sacrifice de la sirène — « Un coup de dés » et la poétique de Stéphane Mallarmé. Copenhagen: Copenhagen University Press/Museum Tusculanum. (2003)


Edited Books

James Benning’s Environments: Politics, Ecology, Duration. Eds. Daniele Rugo & Lübecker. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (2018)

Europe and it’s Others – Xenophobia in European Culture. Eds. Bogh, Bruhn, Madsen & Lübecker. Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter. (2005, in Danish)


Selected Articles

‘Twenty-First Century Baudelaire?, Affectivity and Ecology in “Le Crépuscule du soir” ’. 689-704 in Modernism/modernity 27.4. (2020). 

‘Mallarmé’s Digital Demon’, 140-58 in Paragraph 43.2. (2020)

‘Landscape Memories: Chantal Akerman’s Sud and the Spectator-Environment’, 41-56 in Angelaki 24:6. (2019)

‘Mallarmé’s Instruments: The Production of the Individu-Livre’, 367-83 in French Studies 73.3. (2019)

‘Violence and Landscape in the Films of James Benning’, 55-72 in James Benning’s Environments: Politics, Ecology, Duration (Eds. Lubecker & Rugo). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (2018)

‘Bruno Dumont’s Comic Look: P’tit Quinquin as social and ethical intervention’, 87-99 in Studies in French Cinema 18.1. (2018).

‘The Individual as Environment: Watching Jean-Claude Rousseau’s La Vallée close with Lucretius and Simondon’, 195-211 in French Ecocriticism (Eds. Finch-Race & Posthumus). Oxford: Peter Lang. (2017)

‘Artaud and Sun: Heliogabalus and contemporary non-anthropocentric theory’, 17-29 in Image [&] Narrative 17.5. (2016)

‘The Politics of Images’. 392-407 in Paragraph 36.3. (2013)

‘The Poetry of Idiots: Siegrid Alnoy, Lars von Trier, and Bruno Dumont’. 438-54 in New Review of Film and Television Studies 11.4. (2013).

‘Camus, Bataille et la morale de la révolte’. 38-51 in Présence d’Albert Camus no. 3. (2012).

‘Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms: The Avant-Garde as Tragedy?’. 235-47 in Studies in French Cinema 11.3. (2011)

‘Lars von Trier’s Dogville, A Contemporary Feel-Bad Film’. 157-68 in Kendall & Horeck (Eds.): The New Extremism in Cinema: From France to Europe. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (2011)

‘The Politics of Desire in Paul Nizan’s La Conspiration’. 19-39 in Contemporary French Civilization 34.1. (2010)

‘Can I take you for a ride, Miss? — On the Titles of Wilhelm Freddie’. 173-83 in Aagesen (ed.): Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the Fork in your Eye! Copenhagen: The National Museum of Art. (2009)

‘Sartre’s Silence – The Limits of Recognition in Why Write?’. 42-57 in Sartre Studies International 14.1. (2008)

‘L’incarnation éclatée — André Breton entre deux siècles’, 125-38 in Jørgensen & Ruth (eds.): Les Défis de l’œuvre. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. (2007)

‘The Dedramatization of Violence in Claire Denis’s I Can’t Sleep’. 17-33 in Paragraph 30.2. (2007)


Translation (book-length)

Georges Bataille: Manet. Et biografisk og kritisk studie. Transl. Per Aage Brandt & Lübecker. Copenhagen: Royal Academy of Arts (2014, in Danish)

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