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Professor Steve Connor

(Elected 2012)

Following his DPhil at the University of Oxford, Steven Connor was appointed as a Lecturer in English at Birkbeck in 1979. He became Senior Lecturer in 1990, Reader in Modern English Literature in 1991 and Professor of Modern Literature and Theory in 1994.

He has served the college in many capacities, including as Pro-Vice-Master for International and Research Students from 1998 to 2001 and as College Orator from 2001 to 2012. From 2003 to 2012, he was Academic Director of the London Consortium Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies. Not only through his many books and essays, on a huge variety of topics, but also in his extensive work for radio, he has enlarged the scope of English studies and opened up new methods and subjects in cultural history. From October 2012, he will be Grace 2 Professor of English in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Peterhouse.

‘As College Orator’, says Professor Connor, ‘I have presented more than 40 fellows at graduation ceremonies, and have seen how deeply it affects even people used to pomp and circumstance to be honoured by an institution such as this. Researching and writing these orations has often been the beginning of strong friendships. To be admitted now myself to a fellowship of such astonishing distinction in so many fields is truly both humbling and uplifting.

‘Fellows of Birkbeck have the opportunity to represent its work and ideals in the world of education and beyond, an opportunity I am eager to seize. I am quite convinced that, having been for so long an honourable and defiant anomaly in higher education in this country, Birkbeck is now moving irresistibly into the centre of things, as a model for what the future of education must be.

‘Birkbeck students know and show that intellectual life is not a retreat from the world but a way of moving out decisively and transformingly into it. Though I am myself moving out into the world beyond Birkbeck, I will be grateful to be able to continue my association with a college that has given me so much over 33 years, and I look forward to offering what support I can to Birkbeck’s unique and luminous mission, as it moves towards its third century of existence.’