Universiteit Leiden

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Nidesh Lawtoo

Professor Modern/Contemporary European Literature and Culture

Prof.dr. N. Lawtoo
+31 71 527 2644

Nidesh Lawtoo is Professor of Modern and Contemporary European Literature and Culture at Leiden University.

More information about Nidesh Lawtoo

Trained in comparative literature, continental philosophy, and film/media studies, I held positions at the University of Lausanne, Johns Hopkins University, and KU Leuven, where I led an ERC-funded project titled Homo Mimeticus: Theory and Criticism (2017-2022). My interdisciplinary work reframes the ancient concept of “mimesis” beyond realism by exploring the modern/contemporary avatars of imitation. These include identification, influence, mimicry, contagion, simulation, empathy/sympathy, mirror neurons, plasticity, posthuman mimesis among other phenomena that show how imitation is central to human originality--for good and ill. Areas of interest include philosophies of mimesis (from Plato and Aristotle to Girard and Lacoue-Labarthe), European modernism (e.g., Conrad, Wilde), subject formation and identity, Nietzsche and his French legacy (e.g., Bataille, Foucault), poststructuralism, science fiction film, political theory (fascism, crowd behavior), posthumanism, literature and neuroscience, and environmental studies. The general goal of my research is to open up the new transdisciplinary field of “mimetic studies” and create new concepts (mimetic pathos, patho(-)logy, hypermimesis) to account for the metamorphoses of homo mimeticus in the present and future.

Academic publications include numerous articles and chapters, edited specials issues and volumes as well as six monographs that set philosophical, literary, and political foundations for mimeticus studies,  including, Homo Mimeticus: A New Theory of Imitation (Leuven UP 2022, Open Access). I am currently PI of a project on contemporary feminist philosophy titled Gendered Mimesis and I recently finalized a diptych on the contagious and cathartic effects of (new) media violence, from Greek tragedy to video games. For the general audience I have started dialogues on imitation with key figures in literary studies (J. Hillis Miller), philosophy (Jean-Luc Nancy), political theory (William Connolly), complexity theory (Edgar Morin), feminist philosophy (Adriana Cavarero), neuroscience (Vittorio Gallese) among others, available on the HOM Videos Channel.

Ancillary activities:

Part-time Research Professor at the Institute of Philosophy (HIW), KU Leuven, and PI of the Gendered Mimesis project

Key Publications

Scholarships, Grants, Awards

  • 2020-ongoing C1 (Internal Funding) KU Leuven. Project title: Gendered Mimesis: Rethinking the Feminist Subject
  • 2016-2022 ERC (European Research Council), Starting Grant. Project Title:  Homo Mimeticus: Theory and Criticism
  • 2018 Adam Gillon Book Award for best book in Conrad Studies, Joseph Conrad Society of America
  • 2013-2016 SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Fellowship for Advanced Postdoc Mobility, Johns Hopkins University.
  • 2009 Bruce Harkness Young Conrad Scholars Award, Joseph Conrad Society of America.
  • 2007-2008 Visiting Fellowship to Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
  • 2006-2007 Chester William Fritz Scholarship, University of Washington.
  • 2004-2005 Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship University of Washington.
  • 2002 Prix de Faculté, Université de Lausanne.

Professor Modern/Contemporary European Literature and Culture

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Literatuurwetenschap

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number A1.38




  • No relevant ancillary activities
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