'It is still mañana', [on Robert Frost]
My first book — The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (OUP, 2007) — considered relations between political oratory and literary craft. I've since edited or co-edited various collections of essays — including Some Versions of Empson (OUP, 2007) — and a few years back I wrote Comedy: A Very Short Introduction, which explored comedy as a literary genre and as a range of non-literary impulses and events (pantomime, circus, stand-up acts, caricatures, and other funny business).
Much of my recent work has focused on poetry: in the last couple of years, essays have included 'It Wants to Go to Bed With Us', 'Poetry by Numbers', 'Unknowing Lyric' and 'In Search of Distraction'. Some of this material is preparatory thinking for a set of essays I'm writing, On Wonder, for Harvard University Press.
I've just finished a book entitled Wordsworth's Fun, which will be published in 2019 by Chicago University Press, and I'm currently working on Knowing Edward Lear for OUP. The Lear project builds on the Chatterton Lecture I gave in 2012 and a volume I co-edited with James Williams, Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry (OUP, 2016). The research has also involved collaborations with the BBC, Harvard University, the Natural History Museum, the Ashmolean, The Tennyson Society, and other organisations. Full information — along with podcasts, online exhibitions, talks, and other materials — can be found here.
I also write for the London Review of Books, Harper's, Raritan, Poetry, and other magazines (essays on Edward Thomas, Treasure Island and its adaptations, cockneys and nineteenth-century London, William Hazlitt, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Bishop, Stevie Smith, Thomas De Quincey, John Ashbery, Edward Lear, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and A. R. Ammons). A sample of my work for the LRB — a short video-essay on Stevie Smith — is available here. My most recent piece for Poetry magazine won the 2018 Editors Prize for Feature Article; podcasts/interviews based on my work for Poetry are available here and here.
I teach subjects and authors across the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Undergraduate: Paper 1 (Introduction to English Language and Literature); Nineteenth-Century Literature (1830-1910); Paper 6 (1760-1830), plus various special topics ('The Character of Comedy' and 'The Literary Essay') and dissertation supervision.
Graduate: MSt in English, 1700-1830 and MSt in English, 1830-1914.
In the last 10 years or so, I have supervised / co-supervised / examined PhD dissertations on a range of subjects, including:
- Poetic Address in C. H. Sisson, W. S. Graham and Geoffrey Hill
- Byron and Epistolary Poetics
- Joyce and Nonsense
- Thom Gunn and The Occasions of Poetry
- Victorian War Poetry
- The Metrical Fingerprint in Twentieth-Century Poetry
- John Clare and the Poetics of Health
- Kipling and Yeats – A Comparative Biography
- Milton After Eliot (Lowell, Empson, and Hill)
- Forms of Textual Excess in Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge and De Quincey
- The Tiny, The Miniature, and The Small in Modern American Poetry (Dickinson, Bishop, Moore, Niedecker, and Kay Ryan)
- Resistances to Knowing in Victorian Poetry
Books / Edited Collections / Editions
Crotchet Castle [for The Cambridge Edition of Thomas Love Peacock], co-ed. with Freya Johnston (Cambridge UP, 2016), pp. 328 + cxxi
Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry, co-ed. with James Williams (Oxford UP, 2016), pp. 381
The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, ed. (OUP, 2013; pbk 2016), pp. 912
Life Lessons In Byron (Pan Macmillan, 2013), pp. 120
Comedy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012), pp. 150
The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (Oxford UP, 2007; paperback 2010), pp. 302
Some Versions of Empson, ed. (Oxford UP, 2007), pp. 376
Lives of Victorian Literary Figures: Tennyson, ed. (Pickering & Chatto, 2003), pp. 504
Articles in Books
'Charles Lamb . . . Seriously', in Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Michael Hurley and Marcus Waithe (Oxford UP, 2018), 35-54
‘Introduction’ [co-written with James Williams], and ‘Falling for Edward Lear’, in Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry, co-ed. with James Williams (Oxford UP, 2016), 1-15 & 134-61
‘At Work With Victorian Poetry’, in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry (Oxford UP, 2013), 1-16
‘Dickens by the Clock’, in Dickens’s Style, ed. Daniel Tyler (Cambridge UP, 2013; paperback 2015), 46-72
‘Byron’s Feet’, in Meter Matters: Verse Cultures of The Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Jason Hall (Ohio UP, 2011), 78-104
‘Tennyson’s Humour’, in Tennyson Among the Poets: Bicentenary Essays, ed. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and Seamus Perry (Oxford UP, 2009), 231-58
‘Empson in the Round’, in Some Versions of Empson (Oxford UP, 2007), 1-20
‘Fighting Talk: Victorian War Poetry’, in The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, ed. by Tim Kendall (Oxford UP, 2007), 7-33
Articles in Journals, Essays, Reviews, etc.
'Poetry by Numbers', Raritan, 37.2 (Fall 2017), 37-64
'In Search of Distraction', Poetry (November 2017), 171-94
'Unknowing Lyric', Poetry (March 2017), 575-89
‘The Funny Thing About Trees’, Raritan (Winter 2014), 86-116
‘Eliot Among the Comedians’, Literary Imagination, 16.2 (July 2014), 135-56
‘Edward Lear’s Lines of Flight’ [2012 British Academy Chatterton Lecture on poetry], Journal of The British Academy, 1 (2013), 31-69
‘Wordsworth’s Folly’, The Wordsworth Circle, 43.3 (Summer 2012), 146-51
‘Wordsworth at Play’, Essays in Criticism, 61.1 (January 2011), 54-78
‘Warring Claims: Victorian Poetry and Conflict’, Les Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, 66 (October 2007), 415-49
‘Joyce’s Love Letters’, in James Joyce Quarterly, 44.2 (2007), 354-57
‘William Empson’, 4000-word entry in The Literary Encyclopedia (2004)
‘Tennyson’s “Roses on the Terrace”: A New Manuscript’, Tennyson Research Bulletin, 8.2 (2003), 118-20
‘Volumes of Noise’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 31.2 (Autumn 2003), 577-91
‘Tennyson, Ireland, and “The Powers of Speech”’, Victorian Poetry, 39 (Fall 2001), 345-64
‘Dickens in Public’, Essays in Criticism, 51 (July 2001), 330-52
‘Temporizing Dickens’, Review of English Studies, 52 (May 2001), 171-91
‘Ruskin, Bright, and the Politics of Eloquence’, Nineteenth-Century Prose, 27.2 (Fall 2000), 177-90
‘Lecturing Ruskin’, Leeds Working Papers in Victorian Studies, 3 (2000), 122-36
‘Tennyson’s Civil Tongue’, Tennyson Research Bulletin, 7.3 (November 1999), 113-25
+ book reviews and review-essays in a range of magazines and journals, including The London Review of Books, Harper’s, Modernism/Modernity, The Byron Journal, Review of English Studies, Modern Language Review, Essays in Criticism, Cambridge Quarterly, Tennyson Research Bulletin, and British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and The Literary Review.
Review-articles / essays for the London Review of Books, Harper's, and other magazines include:
'Gravity's Smoothest Dream' [on A. R. Ammons], LRB (7 March 2019), 31-33
'Foiled by Pleasure' [on Elizabeth Barrett Browning], LRB (30 August 2018), 32-34
'Are you a tome?' [on Edward Lear], LRB (14 December 2017), 27-30
'Supping on Horrors' [on Thomas De Quincey], Harper's (October 2016), 85-93
‘Deleecious’ [on William Hazlitt] LRB (6 November 2008), 26-28