Professor Nicholas Halmi

  • Enlightenment and Romantic literature (esp. poetry) and philosophy
  • Comparative literature (British, German, French, Italian)
  • Classical reception
  • Enlightenment and Romantic visual culture
  • Literary history and theory (esp. genre theory)
  • Anglo-Italian literary and cultural relations (esp. Byron)

My research is concerned with British and Continental literature, philosophy, and visual arts of the 'long eighteenth century', particularly in their responses to the challenges and discontents of modernity and in their relation to the historical past.

Romantic symbol. My book The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol (2007) analysed an historically signficant attempt to overcome, through means bequeathed by the Enlightenment itself, a profound dissatisfaction with the dualisms of Enlightenment epistemology, semiotics, aesthetics, and natural science. A primary purpose of the book was to explainwhat intellectual purposes the Romantic theorization of the symbol--which was very influential in post-Romantic criticism and has caused much contention in critical theory since the 1960s--served in nineteenth century itself. The book's own genealogy is recounted in the article 'Telling Stories about Romantic Theory' (2012), and its central argument is summarized in my discussion with Robert Harrison in his radio programme Entitled Opinions (linked below). Various of the contributors to the collection Symbol and Intuition (2013), to which I wrote an afterword, engage with aspects of the Genealogy's argument, and the book has been praised by philosophers (e.g., Miguel de Beistegui) and historians (e.g., Warren Breckman) as well as by literary critics (e.g., Terry Eagleton).

Historicization and aesthetics. More recently I have been writing about the aestheticization of the past in poetry, painting, and architecture of the long eighteenth century (e.g., in representations of imaginary ruins), as well as on the relation of the Romantics’ self-consciously new literary forms to traditional genres and genre theory (e.g., Byron's ironization of epic in Don Juan). I was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for 2015–17 to write a comparative study of the relationship of historical understanding to aesthetic theory and artistic form in the Enlightenment and Romantic period, History's Forms (contracted with OUP). An anticipation of the book's argument was published in MLQ in September 2013. Further projects include a book on Coleridge (contracted with Princeton University Press) and a chapter on European Romanticism in The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (forthcoming 2018).

I have also done a good deal of scholarly editing, especially of Coleridge, and have served on the Modern Language Association's Committee on Scholarly Editions (in 2007–9 as co-chair). Since 2010 I have been an advisory editor of Oxford University Press’s Oxford Scholarly Editions Online project, with particular responsibility for Romantic-period editions. My Norton Critical Edition of Wordsworth (2013), described in the TLS as 'likely to set the agenda for classroom study of Wordsworth for years to come' and 'an essential text for scholars', contains a generous selection of the poetry and critical prose, including a newly edited and annotated text of the 1805 Prelude and—for the first time—en face texts of The Ruined Cottage and book 1 of The Excursion.

I am an Associated Academic Staff member of the History of Art Department, am involved in the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Group, and am a member of the editorial board of the series Close Reading: Schriften zur britischen Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft, published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. I have twice served on the Advisory Board of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR), most recently as chair (in 2015 and 2016), and in the English Faculty have been a co-convenor of the Romanticism Research Seminar.

Selected publications:

History's Forms: Aesthetics and the Past, 1650–1850 (in progress, contracted with OUP)

The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol (OUP, 2007)

Editor, Wordsworth's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition, 2013; corr. 2nd printing, 2017)

Co-editor, Coleridge's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition, 2004; 6th printing, 2017)

Textual editor, Opus Maximum, vol. 15 of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Princeton UP, 2002)

'Spinoza nel romanticismo inglese (Coleridge e Shelley)', in Carlo Altini (ed.), La fortuna di Spinoza in età moderna e contemporanea (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, forthcoming 2019)

'European Romanticism', in Warren Breckman and Peter Gordon (eds.), The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (CUP, forthcoming 2018)

‘Byron and Weltliteratur’, in Norbert Lennartz (ed.) Romantic Marginality: Lord Byron and His Marginal Texts (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018)

‘The Greco-Roman Revival’, in David Duff (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism (forthcoming 2018)

‘The Literature of Italy in Byron’s Poems of 1817–20’, in Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia (eds.), Byron and Italy (Manchester University Press, February 2018), pp. 23–43

'Past and Future, Discontent and Unease', in Christoph Bode (ed.), Romanticism and Its Discontents (Trier: WVT, 2018)

'Two Types of Wordsworthian Ambiguity', in Sebastian Domsch, Christoph Reinfandt, and Katharina Rennhak (eds.), Romantic Ambiguities: Abodes of the Modern (Trier: WVT, 2017), pp. 37–52

‘The Anti-Historicist Historicism of German Romantic Architecture’, European Romantic Review, 26 (2015), 789–807

‘The Theorization of Style’, in Stefanie Fricke, Felicitas Meinert, and Katharina Pink (eds.), Romanticism and Knowledge (Trier: WVT, 2015), pp. 73–86

‘Symbolism, Imagism, and Hermeneutic Anxiety’, Connotations: A Journal of Critical Debate, 23.1 (2013/14), 127–39 (abridged version: ‘The Poundian Image and the Romantic Symbol’, La Questione Romantica, n.s. 5 (2013 [published December 2015]), 153–8)

‘Romanticism, the Temporalization of History, and the Historicization of Form’, Modern Language Quarterly, 74 (2013), 363–89

Afterword to James Vigus and Helmut Hühn (eds.), Symbol and Intuition: Comparative Studies in Kantian and Romantic-Period Aesthetics (London: Legenda, 2013), pp. 191–3

‘Coleridge’s Ecumenical Spinoza’, in Beth Lord (ed.), Spinoza beyond Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), pp. 188–207 (abridged reprint: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, 61 (April 2012 [published November 2013])

‘Telling Stories about Romantic Theory’, European Romantic Review, 23 (2012), 305–11

‘Ruins without a Past’, Essays in Romanticism, 18 (2011), 7–27 [on artificial and imaginary ruins]

‘Byron between Ariosto and Tasso’, in Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass (eds.), Dante and Italy in British Romanticism (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011), pp. 39–53

‘The Very Model of a Modern Epic Poem’, European Romantic Review, 21 (2010), 589–600 (reprinted in: Thomas Pfau and Robert Mitchell (eds.), Romanticism and Modernity (Routledge, 2012), chap. 10) [on Byron's Don Juan]

‘Coleridge on Allegory and Symbol’, in Frederick Burwick (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Coleridge (OUP, 2009), pp. 345–58

Undergraduate: Prelims 4 (literature of 1910–), FHS paper 5 (1760–1830), various dissertation topics

Graduate: MSt 1700–1830

Graduate Supervision:

I am happy to consider requests to supervise MSt dissertations and DPHil theses on subjects broadly related to the areas of my research.

Broadcasts and blog posts:

'"A dream, which was not all a dream": dark reflections from June 1816', OUP Blog, published 16 June 2016

'Byron: Judging and Judged', Oxford Scholary Editions Online, published 25 August 2015

Interview, 'From Radical Engraver to Canonical Poet: How Did William Blake's Reputation Change?', Oxford Arts Blog, University of Oxford, published 4 December 2014

'Incorporating Oxford Scholarly Editions Online into Undergraduate Teaching', Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, published 14 October 2013

'Snapshots in Time: Critical Editions and Changes in Editorial Practice', Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, published 31 July 2012

Audio slideshow on William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job, BBC News, published 19 May 2011

Radio interview about the Romantic symbol, KZSU FM, Stanford University, 8 Feb. 2011

Other Information:

Before coming to Oxford I had a tenured appointment in the departments of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. In winter 2011 I was a Visiting Professor of English at Stanford University.

Personal website

Academia.edu profile

University College website

Romantic and Eighteenth-Century Studies Oxford (online forum)

Publications

  • The Literature of Italy in Byron's Poems of 1817-20

  • Two Types of Wordsworthian Ambiguity

  • The Anti-Historicist Historicism of German Romantic Architecture

  • The Theorization of Style

  • Romanticism, the Temporalization of History, and the Historicization of Form

  • Wordsworth's Poetry and Prose

  • The Very Model of a Modern Epic Poem

  • Coleridge's Ecumenical Spinoza

  • Ruins without a Past

  • The Very Model of a Modern Epic Poem

  • The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol

  • Coleridge's Poetry and Prose Authoritative Texts, Criticism

  • More
List of site pages