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Professor Derek Sayer FRHistS, FRSC

Professor Derek Sayer FRHistS, FRSC

Professor

Bowland College
Lancaster University
Bailrigg
Lancaster
United Kingdom
LA1 4YT


Tel: +44 1524 592349

I was originally trained in sociology (PhD Durham 1975), and wrote a number of books on classical social theory (e.g. Marx's Method, 1978; The Violence of Abstraction, 1986; Capitalism and Modernity, 1990) and state formation (The Great Arch, with Philip Corrigan, 1985).  Latterly I have used modern Czech history, and especially the modern history of the city of Prague, as a laboratory in which to explore the many-sidedness of "the modern condition," focusing in particular on cultural history, including architecture, music, and the visual arts (The Coasts of Bohemia, 1998; Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, 2013). 

PhD Supervision Interests

Professor Sayer is interested in supervising PhDs in twentieth-century art, architecture, and photography; historical memory and social identity; social, cultural, and aesthetic theories of modernity; surrealism; and modern Czech history.

Current Teaching

HIST351, How the Camera Changed the World

HIST414, Advanced Cultural History (Art and Politics between the World Wars)

HIST 526, Historical Methods for the Arts and Social Sciences

Research Interests

In 2014 I published a large book with Princeton University Press entitled Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History. This is the second in a proposed trilogy of books on modernity viewed from Prague (the first being The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Princeton 1998).  I am now researching a third volume, dealing with the period from 1938 to the present, provisionally entitled Postcards from Absurdistan: the End of History?  The research for this project has been supported by the Canada Research Chairs program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

My wider research interests include social and cultural theory, especially classical social theory (Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel) and French poststructuralism; the history and sociology of "modernity"; visual culture, especially modern art, architecture, and photography; surrealist thought; and issues of historical "memory".

Additional Information

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1990)

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1994)

Professor Emeritus (Canada Research Chair), University of Alberta

Research Grants

2009-11. Royal Society/British Academy.   Newton International Fellowship (Dariusz Gafijczuk).  £99,000 for project The Ruins of Mitteleuropa.   UK academic sponsor.

2008-9. Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).   Research Leave (two terms).  £33,000 to work on Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century.

2001-5. Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).  $125,000 to establish Visual Culture Research Laboratory at University of Alberta.

2000-3. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Interdisciplinary Studies Committee.  $24,000 for project The Arts of Modernity.  

1996-9.  SSHRC, History Committee.  $35,000 for project Prague and Modernity.

1991-94. SSHRC, Sociology Committee.  $47,000 for project Prague 1848-1990.

1986-8. British Academy.  £10,000 for project Bastardy in English History

Career Details

2000-5.  Canada Research Chair in Social Theory and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta

1988-2000.  Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta 

1986-8.  Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta

1979-86.  Lecturer in Sociology, University of Glasgow

1978-9.  Lecturer in Sociology, Glasgow College of Technology

1975-8.  SSRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Durham.

Visiting positions: University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (summer semesters, 1981-3); Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (1986); Czech Academy of Sciences (1991-3); Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas at Austin (2013-14).

External Roles

Managing editor (with Dr Yoke-Sum Wong), Journal of Historical Sociology, Wiley-Blackwell, quarterly since 1988 (http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0952-1909)

Web Links

Camera Historica (public portal for HIST 351 How the Camera Changed the World) 

CoastsofBohemia (personal blog) 

 

 

Selected Publications

Prague, capital of the twentieth century: a surrealist history

Sayer, D. 2013 Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 620 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

The coasts of Bohemia: a Czech history

Sayer, D. 2000 Princeton: Princeton University Press. 442 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Capitalism and Modernity: An Excursus on Marx and Weber

Sayer, D. 1990 London: Routledge. 172 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

2014

Five reasons why the REF is not fit for purpose‬‬‬

Sayer, D. 15/12/2014 Guardian Newspaper

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Protest for a REFormation

Sayer, D. 11/12/2014 Times Higher Education, p. 36-41 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

Rank hypocrisies: the insult of the REF

Sayer, D. 3/12/2014 London: Sage. 128 p. (Sage Swifts)

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Problems with peer review for the REF

Sayer, D. 21/11/2014 CDBU (Council for the Defence of British Universities) Blog

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

Time to abandon the gold standard?: peer review for the REF falls far short of internationally accepted standards

Sayer, D. 19/11/2014 LSE Impact of Social Science Blog

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

Modernism, seen from Prague, March 1937

Sayer, D. 10/06/2014 In: Artl@s Bulletin. 3, 1, p. 26-37 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2013

The day the wall came down (American surreal)

Sayer, D. 2013 The inhabited ruins of Central Europe: re-imagining space, history and memory. Gafijczuk, D. & Sayer, D. (eds.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 10 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

The Inhabited Ruins of Central Europe: Re-imagining Space, History and Memory

Gafijczuk, D. (ed.) & Sayer, D. (ed.) 1/10/2013 New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 264 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Pod Stalinem: field notes from another modernity

Sayer, D. 2013 In: Journal of Classical Sociology. 13, 1, p. 87-103 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

How we remember and what we forget: art history and the Czech avant-garde

Sayer, D. 2013 The inhabited ruins of Central Europe: re-imagining space, history and memory. Gafijczuk, D. & Sayer, D. (eds.). London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 148-177 30 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Prague, capital of the twentieth century: a surrealist history

Sayer, D. 2013 Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 620 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

2012

André Breton and the Magic Capital: An Agony in Six Fits

Sayer, D. 2012 In: Bohemia. 52, 1, p. 55-75 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Crossed Wires: On the Prague-Paris Surrealist Telephone

Sayer, D. 2012 In: Common Knowledge. 18, 2, p. 193-207 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2010

Hypermodernism in the Boondocks: Photo/Montage and the Czech Book

Sayer, D. 06/2010 In: Oxford Art Journal. 33, 2, p. 243-249 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2008

The Photograph: the Still Image

Sayer, D. 2008 History Beyond the Text: a student's guide to approaching alternative sources. Barber, S. & Peniston-Bird, C. (eds.). London: Routledge, p. 49-71

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Wittgenstein at Ground Zero

Sayer, D. 02/2008 In: Space and Culture. 11, 1, p. 12-19 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Twenty Years of the Journal of Historical Sociology.

Wong, Y-S. & Sayer, D.. 09/2008 Oxford: Blackwell. 352 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Twenty Years of the Journal of Historical Sociology.

Wong, Y-S. & Sayer, D.. 09/2008 Oxford: Blackwell. 320 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

2007

Ceci ne'st-pas un con: Duchamp, Lacan and L'Origine du monde.

Sayer, D. G. 2007 Marcel Duchamp and Eroticism. Cambridge Scholars Press, 300 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

2004

Incognito Ergo Sum: Language, Memory and the Subject

Sayer, D. 12/2004 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 21, 5, p. 67-89 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The unbearable lightness of building: a cautionary tale.

Sayer, D. G. 1/06/2004 In: Grey Room. 16, p. 6-35 30 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Going Down for Air: A Memoir in Search of a Subject.

Sayer, D. 2004 Boulder: Paradigm. 201 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

2002

Surrealities

Sayer, D. G. 2002 Central European avant-gardes: exchange and transformation 1910-1930. Los Angeles County Museum of Art/MIT Press, 90 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

2000

The coasts of Bohemia: a Czech history

Sayer, D. 2000 Princeton: Princeton University Press. 442 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1998

A quintessential Czechness

Sayer, D. 1998 In: Common Knowledge. 7, p. 136-164 29 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

1996

The language of nationality and the nationality of language: Prague, 1780-1920

Sayer, D. 1996 In: Past and Present. 153, p. 164-210 47 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

1994

Everyday forms of state formation: dissident remarks on hegemony

Sayer, D. 1994 Everyday forms of state formation: revolution and the negotiation of rule in modern Mexico. Joseph, G. & Nugent, D. (eds.). Duke N.C.: Duke University Press, p. 367-378 12 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

1992

A notable administration: English state formation and the rise of capitalism

Sayer, D. 1992 In: American Journal of Sociology. 97, p. 1382-1415 34 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

1991

British reaction to the Amritsar massacre 1919-1920

Sayer, D. 05/1991 In: Past and Present. 131, 1, p. 130-164 35 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

1990

Capitalism and Modernity: An Excursus on Marx and Weber

Sayer, D. 1990 London: Routledge. 172 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1989

Readings from Karl Marx

Sayer, D. (ed.) 1989 London: Routledge. 243 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1987

The Violence of Abstraction: The Analytic Foundations of Historical Materialism

Sayer, D. 1987 Oxford: Blackwell. 173 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1986

Society

Frisby, D. & Sayer, D. 1986 Chichester: Ellis Horwood. 129 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1985

The critique of politics and political economy: capitalism, communism and the state in Marx's writings of the mid-1840s

Sayer, D. 05/1985 In: The Sociological Review. 33, 2, p. 221-253 33 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The Great Arch: English State Formation as Cultural Revolution

Corrigan, P. & Sayer, D. 1985 Oxford: Blackwell. 268 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1979

Marx's Method: Ideology, Science and Critique in Capital

Sayer, D. 1979 Hassocks: Harvester Press. 208 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1978

Socialist construction and Marxist theory: Bolshevism and its critique

Sayer, D., Corrigan, P. & Ramsay, H. 1978 New York: Macmillan. 232 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

1975

Method and dogma in historical materialism

Sayer, D. 11/1975 In: The Sociological Review. 23, 4, p. 779-805 27 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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