He is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought in the Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London. He works on contemporary literature, literary theory and contemporary European philosophy, and on Holocaust and Genocide studies. In 2014, Eaglestone was the recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship, among the highest awards for pedagogy at university level in the United Kingdom.
His work explores how literature ‘thinks’, especially in relation to issues of ethics.
This was the subject of his first book, Ethical Criticism: Reading After Levinas, on literary theory and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. This focus on ethics broadened to a concern with ethical relationships to the past, centrally the Holocaust, other genocides and atrocities, in The Holocaust and the Postmodern.
His work draws on memory studies and trauma studies, as well as on the thought of Jacques Derrida and Hannah Arendt. He works widely on contemporary literature, including Salman Rushdie and J. M. Coetzee and is the author of Contemporary Literature: A Very Short Introduction.
In that book he writes:
Literature is where ideas are investigated, lived out, explored in all their messy complexity… Perhaps… ‘think’ is not the right word: ‘think’ is too limiting a description of the range of what a novel can do with ideas. In any event, the way literature thinks is bound up with what it’s like to be us, to be human. Literature is how we make ourselves intelligible to ourselves.
And contemporary fiction matters because it is how we work out who we are now, today.
He is also concerned with the teaching of literature. He has written the text book, Doing English, a Guide for Literature Students.
Edits a series of books introducing major thinkers, Routledge Critical Thinkers, and is a commentator in the national press on literature teaching at school and in Higher Education. He lives in Brixton, London, and has two children.
With Gert Buelens and Sam Durrant The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism (London: Routledge, 2013)
with Martin MacQuillan, Salman Rushdie: Bloomsbury Contemporary Critical Perspectives (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)
Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Literary and Cultural Theory Volume 2 (1966 to Present day) (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010). with Elleke Boehmer and Katy Iddiols J.M. Coetzee in Context and Theory (London: Continuum, 2009)
with Simon Glendinning, Derrida"s Legacies: Literature and Philosophy (London: Routledge, 2008)
with Barry Langford Teaching Holocaust Literature and Film (London: Palgrave, 2008)
Reading The Lord of the Rings (London: Continuum, 2005).