Marcus Boon

United Kingdom
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Short biography: 

I am a writer, journalist and Associate Professor in the English Literature department at York University, Toronto. I'm also a member of that university's Social and Political Thought program. For 2011-12, I will be a Fellow at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities, working with a group on "Sound: Culture, Theory, Practice, Politics."

I grew up in London to English and German parents and came of age during the punk era, turned on by hearing "Anarchy in the UK" on pirate radio one night in a bedroom in the suburbs, and by a recording of John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things", also heard in that same bedroom. I studied English literature at University College London, while writing reviews for the New Musical Express, DJing warehouse parties, and making trips to New York where I encountered the splendorous world of NYC hiphop, graffiti, Afrika Bambaataa, electro and other dance scenes.

I moved to New York in 1987, working as a freelance writer. For much of the 1990s, I was involved in AIDS activism, writing for the PWA Coalition's journal, participating in Act Up's Treatment and Data Committee, and working for several years at the Community Research Initiative on AIDS as an assistant to the great AIDS researcher Joseph Sonnabend. I wrote an SF novel Brain Forest, a devastating but unpublishable allegory about the AIDS crisis, and received a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University, where I worked with anthropologist Michael Taussig, cultural theorist Andrew Ross and literary theorists Avital Ronell, Richard Sieburth and Jennifer Wicke. My dissertation, The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs, was published by Harvard UP in 2002.

Since moving to Toronto, I have continued to write about non-western musics for The Wire, about yoga, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions for Ascent, and collaborated with Christie Pearson on the now infamous all night swimming pool installation/party Night Swim for the city's first Nuit Blanche. My second full length book In Praise of Copying was published by Harvard UP in October 2010. I am currently working on a book about the concept of practice in Asian religions and contemporary theory. I am also spending a lot of time thinking about alternative, popular, sub and folk cultures and their situations today.

(Source: Author's website,

Critical writing by this author:

Title Publication Type Publisher Year
Kenneth Goldsmith Interview BOMB 2011
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Marcus Boon
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Eric Dean Rasmussen