The Anti-Historicist Historicism of German Romantic Architecture
- 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).
Historicism 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 have been 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 Form (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.
In 2015–17 I am on research leave on a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.
History's Forms: Aesthetics and the Past in the Romantic Age (in preparation, contracted with OUP)
The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol (OUP, 2007)
Editor, Wordsworth's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition, 2013)
Co-editor, Coleridge's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition, 2004)
Textual editor, Opus Maximum, vol. 15 of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Princeton UP, 2002)
'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.) Byron and the Margins of Romanticism (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2017)
‘The Greco-Roman Revival’, in David Duff (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism (forthcoming 2017)
‘The Literature of Italy in Byron’s Poems of 1817–20’, in Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia (eds.), Byron and Italy (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2017)
‘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
During my research leave in 2015–17 I shall not be accepting requests to supervise new students.
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
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.
Romantic and Eighteenth-Century Studies Oxford (online forum)