Professor David Parker graduated with a BA from the University of Adelaide and from Flinders University, where was awarded First Class Honours and a University Medal in the School of Language and Literature. He won a Flinders University Overseas Scholarship to Oxford where did a D. Phil. on the writings of Wyndham Lewis under the supervision of Richard Ellmann. He joined the English Department at the Australian National University in 1974. In 1995 he was appointed Professor of English at Australian Catholic University. He returned to the ANU in 1997, where he was Head of Department until December 1999. He was Professor of English and Chairman of the English Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 2000 to July 2009. In August 2009 he was appointed Research Professor and inaugural Director of the Research Centre for Human Values at CUHK.

His research interests include literature of the modernist period, ethics and literary theory, autobiography and aesthetics. His monographs and edited collections include Ethics, theory and the novel and Renegotiating ethics: literature, philosophy and theory (Cambridge University Press, 1994, 1998), The self in moral space: Life narrative and the good (Cornell University Press, 2007), and two works of fiction - one of them a novel, Building on Sand (Angus and Robertson, 1988), which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. He is currently working on mourning and values in English poetry.

He has convened several international conferences and colloquia including Renegotiating Ethics (1992), Shame and the Modern Self (1994), the Martha Nussbaum named Seminar (1999), English and Globalization (2001), Anglophone Cultures in South-East Asia (2003) and Inhabiting Multiple Worlds: Auto/biography in an (Anti-) Global Age (2004, Fourth International Auto/biography Conference).

He is a Fellow of the Comparative Literature Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, founding Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Man Asian Literary Prize.