Prof. Johnny Rodger

Job Title:

Professor of Urban Literature


Mackintosh School of Architecture



The Drouth
Literary Quarterly founded by Johnny Rodger

The Drouth


Prof. Johnny Rodger

Johnny Rodger is a writer, critic, and Professor of Urban Literature at The Glasgow School of Art.

His research consists of enquiry published internationally in two aspects: on the one hand literary and critical writing, and on the other architecture and urbanism. The thesis which runs through all his work is that literary and critical writing has a direct, specific and particular influence on civil and political, and ultimately spatial formations.
He has published several books of fiction – most recently Political Animal (2019) with the Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute, plus Redundant (1998), g haun(s) Q (1996), and The Auricle (1995)-- and critical works include Key Essays: Mapping the contemporary in Literature and Culture (2021) , Spaces of Justice (2018), Disappearing Glasgow (2016), The Hero Building (2015), The Red Cockatoo: James Kelman and the Art of Commitment(2011), Tartan Pimps: Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher and the New Scotland (2010), Fickle Man: Robert Burns in the 21st Century (2009) and the work on Gillespie, Kidd & Coia 1956-87 (2007).
His research aims at the opening of a new area of cross disciplinary enquiry which brings together literary analysis with the critical techniques of the political and social sciences to examine the spaces inhabited by society, and designed by artists, architects and urbanists.

This field of enquiry ranges from general urban and architectural investigation as in his book Contemporary Glasgow (1999) through the work of specific practices as in the monograph on influential Glaswegian architects Gillespie, Kidd & Coia; to explorations of the influence of literature and the word on political, social and spatial formations, with published engagements on monuments, the positioning of specific writers like Kelman and Burns in the built environment, on the physical design justice system, and on social justice in general. From thence it moves further still to encompass collaborations in visual arts and in music theatre which research movement and relationships organised by the word through space, such that all his work finds coherence in the importance of the word as an ethical and moral fundament in the contemporary polity.

Critical engagement with his work includes articles on his published books in academic journals throughout Europe and the USA. He has worked on projects attracting grants totalling over £1M from major funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Leverhulme Foundation, Royal Society of Edinburgh and Creative Scotland. These projects have involved collaboration with colleagues form other Universities – e.g. Paris 8, Sarai (Dehli), Univ of Quebec Montreal, Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrew’s, Napier and Salford, and cultural institutions such as Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, La Colonie art space in Paris, the Lighthouse in Glasgow and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

He has worked together with prominent visual artists from around the world to stage exhibitions, conferences and written works, and also with composers and animators on a series of music theatre collaborations involving, text, image and music. In 2021 he worked with Monica Laiseca (GSA) and Yuko Hasegawa, director of Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art to set up ‘neighbouring’, a 3 day post-covid collaboration of Scottish and Japanese artists for the Glasgow International biennale; in 2018 he collaborated with the Dutch artist, Jonas Staal, on the exhibition (at CCA) ‘The Scottish European Parliament’ and in 2019 with Prabhakar Pachpute and many other artists, writers and curators from around the world in staging the ‘Political Animal’ event. In 2016 he collaborated with Lionel Ruffel and Kader Attia to set up the first event, ‘Theory Now’, in Attia’s art space, La Colonie in Paris. In 2011 Vanishing Boundaries (written together with composer Steve Davismoon) was performed by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in Manchester and at the Glasgow Music and Film Festival. In 2008 Animals was performed in Edinburgh Filmhouse by the Research Ensemble at the Edinburgh New Music Festival. In 2006 Love Eurydice, commissioned by Scottish Opera was performed in concert recital at Musica Nova in the West End Festival, Glasgow.

He makes regular contributions to architectural and arts press, and also appears regularly on BBC radio arts and national TV programmes. He was invited to take a position as Professor at Paris 8 University in 2020-21.

He is a founding editor (2001) of The Drouth Scotland’s literary arts quarterly.

Johnny Rodger on RADAR

Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century, Walter Benjamin (translated by J Rodger)

Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century, Walter Benjamin...

05/01/23 15:14

The Parrot's Progress: Scottish self-determination, Inferiorisation and the Limits of Exceptionalism

The Parrot's Progress: Scottish self-determination, Infer...

23/11/22 12:04

Without Apparatus

Without Apparatus Rodger, Johnny and Dolewska, Jolanta ...

15/11/22 13:23

Mackintosh School of Architecture on RADAR

Mackintosh School of Architecture on RADAR |

Research outputs from staff at the Mack