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


I am interested in literature, philosophy and film that can help us explore what it means to be human in the twenty-first century. At the moment, I am particularly excited about texts and films that allow us to engage with recent technological and ecological developments. These texts can be contemporary or not, fiction or nonfiction, avant-garde or popular culture.

I have published four monographs. The first considered the relationship between literature and society in the work of Stéphane Mallarmé; the second examined ideas of community in texts by André Breton, Georges Bataille, Jean-Paul Sartre and Roland Barthes. The third book then focused on a number of contemporary filmmakers — Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Harmony Korine, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier among others — who have made films that place the spectator in a position of intense discomfort: ‘feel-bad films’. I asked: What do the directors believe they can achieve via the ‘feel-bad’ experience? And (why) should we watch and study feel-bad films? A podcast about the book can be found here.

Recently, I published Twenty-First-Century Symbolism: Verlaine, Baudelaire, Mallarmé (Liverpool University Press, 2022). In this volume, I ask how these three nineteenth-century poets speak to the present; and I argue that their writings prefigure a view of human subjectivity that is appropriate in our times. A short interview about the book is available on the publisher’s blog.

Undergraduate teaching

19th, 20th and 21st century French literature, continental philosophy 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 always happy to hear from prospective graduate students whose research interests are related to mine.

I currently supervise one PhD-student:

McNeil TaylorThe Masochistic Anthropocene in Contemporary Slow Cinema.



Twenty-First-Century Symbolism: Verlaine, Baudelaire, Mallarmé. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022. (232 p.)

The Feel-Bad Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015. (200 p.)

Community, Myth and Recognition in 20th Century French Literature and Thought. London: Continuum, 2009. (184 p.)

Le Sacrifice de la sirène — « Un coup de dés » et la poétique de Stéphane Mallarmé. Copenhagen: Copenhagen University Press/Museum Tusculanum, 2003. (219 p.)


Edited Books

James Benning’s Environments: Politics, Ecology, Duration. Eds. Daniele Rugo & Lübecker. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018. (192 p.)

Europe’s Others Xenophobia in European Culture. Eds. Bogh, Bruhn, Madsen & Lübecker. Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 2005. (319 p., in Danish)


Selected Articles

‘Huppert in the Ozon-Machine: Melodrama and Meta-Acting in 8 Femmes’, 30-47 in Performative Opacity in the Work of Isabelle Huppert (eds. Iggy Cortez & Ian Fleishman), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (2023)

On Fire: Cézanne, Straub and Huillet’, 73-92 in Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media #23. (2022)

‘Jacques Rancière, Mallarmé — The Politics of the Siren’ (6300 words), contribution to the online database: Bloomsbury 20th-Century French Thought. (2022)

‘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: Didi-Huberman, Butler and Rancière’, 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. (140 p., in Danish)

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