The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing explores every possible way of telling a life-story, from biography and autobiography, letters and memoir, to bio-fiction, blogs, and even social media.
Professor Beattie said: “I am excited to be joining this distinguished centre as a Visiting Scholar giving me the opportunity to work alongside some of the UK’s finest literary minds. I will use my time at the centre to work on my new book about ‘lies, lying and liars’. I am sure that I will learn a lot from my time at Oxford, giving me a wealth of knowledge I can bring back to the students at Edge Hill University.”
The appointment comes shortly before the release of Professor Beattie’s latest book Doubt: A Psychological Exploration (Routledge) this November. In the book he explores the issue of doubt through the life histories of some of the worlds greatest thinkers and artists including Kafka, Jung, Picasso and Turing. The book considers self-doubt and the impostor syndrome as well as the weaponisation of doubt with respect to climate change and the marketing of cigarettes. Professor Beattie argues that doubt is central to the self, it can be either rational or irrational, healthy or pathological, but always critically important.
Professor Marcel Danesi from the University of Toronto has described the book as “one of the most brilliant books I have ever come across.”
At OCLW, Professor Beattie will be working on his book on lying where his initial research has been focussing on historical and political autobiographies and biographies, philosophical texts and the core psychological literature, including sociobiological perspectives. He has background research material on individuals who live their lives though lies – conmen, ‘ten-bob’ millionaires, undercover police, cheats and adulterers.
Professor Beattie added: “Given the times in which we live, never has such a book been more urgently needed.”
Professor Beattie has written a number of books on academic psychology as applied to a wide range of topics including Psychology of Climate Change, Visible Thought, and Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective. He was awarded the Spearman Medal by the British Psychological Society for ‘published psychological research of outstanding merit’ and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society of Arts.
He has also published several books of reportage, two novels and a memoir, Protestant Boy. The memoir is about his childhood growing up as a working-class protestant in an area of North Belfast christened ‘Murder Triangle’ during the Troubles, being the first in a generation from his primary school to pass the Eleven Plus and his eventual move away from Northern Ireland. He attended Belfast Royal Academy and did his PhD at Trinity College Cambridge. His later book ‘Selfless’ (2021) explores the discomfort of social class and education in more detail.
Find out more about the work of Professor Beattie and his research interests on his research profile page or find a full list of his books on his website.
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October 25, 2022