Clarendon Lectures

The Clarendon Lecture series is run across the University.


The 2022-2023 series of Clarendon Lectures were given by Professor Susan Stewart (Princeton University), under the title of ' 'Poetry's Nature'.

17 May 2023: "The Bird in Glee": On the Non-semantic

18 May 2023: The Seasons: Paradigm of Lyric Time

23 May 2023: Motion and Turn: Ways of Water

24 May 2023: The Imperceptible, or Wilderness


The 2019-2020 series was given by Professor Denise Gigante, Professor of English at Stanford University, under the title of 'The Mental Traveller by William Blake'.

28 January 2020: Pilgrims and Cold Earth Wanderers

30 January 2020: The Lost Traveller's Dream: Angels, Spectres, Shadows

4 February 2020: A Fearful Journey: Lions and Tygers

6 February 2020: Spiraling through Eternity in Nets and Trees


The 2018-19 series was given by Michael Hofmann, Term Professor at the University of Florida, under the title 'Messing Around in Boats – Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Rimbaud, Eugenio Montale, and Karen Solie'.

22 January 2019: Rilke's Auswanderer-Schiff or Emigrant Ship

24 January 2019: Rimbaud's Bateau Ivre or Drunken Ship

29 January 2019: Montale's Barche sulla Marna or Boats on the Marne

31 January 2019: Solie's The World


The 2017 series was given by Professor Victoria Kahn, Katharine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English at the University of California, Berkeley on the topic of 'The Trouble with Literature'. 

17 October 2017: Literature and Literariness

19 October 2017: Hobbes and Maker's Knowledge

19 October 2017: Milton and the Problem of Belief

24 October 2017: Literariness in Kant, Kierkegaard and Coetzee


The 2016 series was given by Professor Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English at the University of Bristol on the topic of Street Songs.

These lectures were about the use made by writers in the ‘long nineteenth century’ of songs that were sung on the streets of cities. They included ballads, folk songs, and popular songs from opera to music-hall, but also the cries of street vendors and, by metaphorical license, the ‘song’ of a tramway or a knife-grinder’s wheel. Such songs formed part of the urban ‘soundscape’, and offered many writers a rich expressive and symbolic resource; writers also responded to the challenge of a rival art, one that could claim to ‘voice’ the city more potently than writing. In this sense the presence of street songs in novels and poems belongs to a larger cultural history, that of the perpetually difficult, unstable, unbreakable marriage of voice and text.

8 November 2016:  The Engrag'd Musician, and Other Street Scenes. Listen to this lecture here.

10 November 2016:  Proust's enchantment: the cris de Paris. Listen to this lecture here.

15 November 2016:  Gods and Beggars. Listen to this lecture here.

17 November 2016: The Poet and the Knife-grinder. Listen to this lecture here.


Recent Clarendon Lecturers in English include:

Professor Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English, and Director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University on 'Psyche and Ethos' (November 2015)

Professor Thomas Keymer, Chancellor Jackman Professor of English at the University of Toronto, on 'Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820' (November 2014)

Professor David Bromwich, Sterling Professor of English at Yale University on 'How Words Make Things Happen' (October 2013)

Professor Brian Cummings, Professor of English, University of Sussex, on 'Bibliophobia' (October/November 2012)

Professor Terry Castle, Walter A Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University, on 'Rococophilia' (November 2011)

Professor Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London on 'Shakespeare and Rhetorical Invention' (February 2011)

Professor James Simpson, Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English, Harvard University on 'The Iniquity of the Fathers: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition' (May 2009)

Professor Michael Wood, University of Princeton on 'Yeats and Violence' (February 2008)

David Wallace (2007)
Helen Vendler (2004)
Marina Warner (2001)
Mary Jacobus (1997)
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (1996)
Seamus Deane (1995)
Jacqueline Rose (1994)
Stanley Fish (1993)
Henry Louis Gates (1992)
Margaret Atwood (1991)
Christopher Ricks (1990)
Elaine Showalter (1989)
Stephen Greenblatt (1988)
Frank Kermode (1987)