Dr Ansgar Allen

School of Education

PhD Programme Director

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

+44 114 222 8085

Full contact details

Dr Ansgar Allen
School of Education
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH
Research interests

Based on the idea that academic form restricts (and is often in ironic relation to) academic content, my writing experiments with style, ranging from more standard academic tropes to the fictive and fragmentary.

As well as the usual research outputs (peer-reviewed papers), I have written three academic books (Benign Violence, 2014, Palgrave MacMillan; The Cynical Educator, 2017, Mayfly Books; Cynicism2020, MIT Press), co-written a textbook (Education and Philosophy, 2017, SAGE), and have published several novels and experimental texts (see below, but also The Reaches2020, Schism Neuronics), as well as a range of book chapters, reviews, encyclopaedia entries, blogs, and media articles listed here.

Research interests include the role of ancient Cynicism as an ‘educational philosophy’, the function of contemporary cynicism in education, and the construction of the Western educated subject.

My research traces the development of educational subjectivities, including the history of our commitment to the supposed inherent value of education and the importance of being ‘educated’. In my writing and teaching, I study the unquestionable goods of education, remaining open to the possibility that education in all its forms (even where it appears most benign) is a form of violence.

Current research projects

Interrogating education through fiction

This is an ongoing project in which educational ideas are encountered and explored in the contexts of theoretically driven literary fiction. The object of critique is typically at the intersection of pedagogy (the teaching of dependent personalities) and andragogy (the self-cultivation of adults in educated society).

These fictions include a foray into the darker side of educational relations in The Sick List (2021, Boiler House Press), pursuit of the idea that education might function as an intoxicant in The Wake and the Manuscript (2022, Anti-Oedipus Press), an exploration of the continued influence of priestly ideas in secular contexts in Black Vellum (2023, Schism2), and interrogation of some of the institutions that anchor educated culture, such as museums in Plague Theatre (2022, Equus Press), and the institution of the library in The Sick List. Other texts include a re-enactment of the destruction of humanist culture in Burton's Anatomy (2022, Schism Neuronics), a satire in part of the promise of liberation by reading in The Reading Room (2021, Schism Neuronics), and an exploration of the limits of research in the dystopian novella Wretch (2020, Schism Neuronics).



Journal articles


  • Allen A (2017) Psychology and Education: Unquestionable Goods In Tony Williams , Tom Billington , Dan Goodley & Tim Corcoran (Ed.), Critical Educational Psychology (pp. 16-25). Chichester: Wiley. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Allen A (2013) The Idea of a World University In Murphy M (Ed.), Social Theory and Educational Research, volume 4: Governance and Management: Performativity, audit cultures and accountability (pp. 23-38). London: SAGE. RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Dictionary/encyclopaedia entries

Teaching activities

I teach across a range of programmes in the School of Education, in areas including history and philosophy of education, continental philosophy, educational and social theory, educational politics, childhood studies, academic writing and research methodology.

I welcome applications to study for doctoral research degrees, in particular from those wishing to undertake research in the areas of educational philosophy, history and theory, and for students wishing to embark upon a PhD by Practice in the areas of creative-critical writing and theory-fiction.

Professional activities and memberships

Editorial and professional roles:

In addition to the conference circuit (in the areas of education, utopian studies and literary theory), I have been invited to participate in discussion and speak in a range of academic and non-academic contexts, including the World Forum for Democracy (Strasbourg, France), the International Conference on Reimagining Schooling (Thessaloniki, Greece), the Society for the History of Children and Youth (London, Canada), the Qingshan Education Bureau (Wuhan, China), the German-British Association (Berlin, Germany), the European Network on Neoliberal Education Policy (York, UK), ESRI (Manchester, UK), the Social Theory Group (Manchester, UK), various PESGB seminars across the UK, and the Sheffield Education Collective.