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English Faculty research

The English faculty is very active in producing research, and all its members have produced books and book chapters for well-known and well-regarded publishers, including Blackwell, Bloomsbury, Cambridge University Press, Clarendon, Continuum, Edinburgh University Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Harvill Secker, Hamish Hamilton, Longman, Oxford University Press, Penguin, Pickering and Chatto, and Yale University Press. They also all contribute refereed articles to excellent peer reviewed journals in their field, including Comparative Critical Studies, Comparative Literature, Essays in Criticism, Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, Journal of Modern Literature, Literary Imagination, Modern Language Review, and Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry. Internally, all members of the faculty contribute to the Ottoline Club and Ottoline Online. Members of the faculty also write for the literary pages of a wide range of leading newspapers, magazines and literary supplements, including the The Independent, Institute of Arts and Ideas, Literary Review, London Review of Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, Prospect, Times Literary Supplement, and The Spectator, and have presented their research for broadcast media outlets such as NPR (US), BBC London, BBC Ireland and BBC Radio 4.

The Faculty has particular research strengths in a wide variety of areas, some of which are listed below.

Specialties and teaching interests

Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature

Dr Peter Maber is interested in critical and creative responses to Shakespeare in the twentieth century, and has recently contributed entries on W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Wole Soyinka, and W. B. Yeats, to the Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia, edited by Patricia Parker. Dr Maber has also published a study of Sir Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, or, a Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk (1658), for Treasures of Durham University Library.

Augustan, Romantic and Victorian Literature

Dr Charlotte Grant’s research focuses on eighteenth-century literature and material culture, the mid-century culture of sensibility, and on women writers. She is the co-editor of Women, Writing and the Public Sphere 1700-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and editor of Flora, vol 4 of Literature and Science, 1660-1830 (Pickering and Chatto, 2003). She has published on women poets and on the representation of interiors and interiority in the novel.

Dr Catherine Brown has broad interests across Victorian prose and drama, and a specialism in George Eliot. Her book The Art of Comparison: How Novels and Critics Compare (Legenda, 2011) considers Eliot’s influence on Lev Tolstoy through a close comparison of Daniel Deronda and Anna Karenina. She co-edited The Reception of George Eliot in Europe with Elinor Shaffer in 2016 (Bloomsbury), which traces the reception of Eliot in fifteen European countries from the 1860s to the present. Other articles consider adaptations of The Mill on the Floss, and Eliot’s relations to Russia, anti-Semitism, and Zionism. She has also published on the personal and literary relations between Henry James and Ivan Turgenev. Her ongoing interest in the Anglo-Russian literary relations of the nineteenth century is reflected in her current work (first presented at a conference in Russia, and a colloquium in Cambridge, in 2018) on Lev Tolstoy’s critique of King Lear in the context of the Russian reception of Shakespeare.

Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Literature

Dr Catherine Brown is Vice President of the D.H. Lawrence Society and was Executive Director of the 14th International D.H. Lawrence Conference held at Northeastern University London in 2017. She is on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed Journal of the DH Lawrence Society, and is founder of the London Lawrence Reading Group. Her book, The Art of Comparison: How Novels and Critics Compare (Legenda, 2011), considers Lawrence’s response to Lev Tolstoy and the implied ethics of Women in Love and Anna Karenina. She is currently co-editing The Edinburgh Companion to D.H. Lawrence and the Arts (forthcoming 2020), and has written articles or book chapters, or given papers, on Lawrence and the Alps, Dostoevsky, Christianity, Darwin, the First World War, Egyptology, and tragedy. Her current work is on Lawrence and veganism. She engages with the media on Lawrence (for example for BBC 1 and 2, Radio 4). Other work on modernism includes an article for Journal of Modern Literature on English modernist uses of the word ‘soul’, as inflected by the concept of ‘the Russian Soul’. She also lectures in Russia on contemporary British literature, and writes on modern novels for a Russian English literature journal. Dr Brown reviews contemporary fiction for journals including Standpoint and Prospect, and peer reviews research on modern literature for Routledge and Palgrave Macmillan, and journals including Studies in the Novel and Literature Compass, amongst others. Her longer term projects include a comparison of Derek Walcott and V.S. Naipaul, and a study of literary representations of torture.

Dr Peter Maber works on North American poetry (see North American Literature); the relationship between British painters and poets (see Comparative Literature and Visual Culture); and critical and creative responses to Shakespeare in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has co-edited a volume of essays on Frances Cornford, the Cambridge poet and granddaughter 5 of Charles Darwin, and is the author of entries on W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Wole Soyinka, and W. B. Yeats, in the Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia.

Dr Daniel Swift’s most recent book is The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound (Harvill Secker, 2017), a study of the dozen years Pound spent as a patient at St Elizabeth’s hospital for the insane in Washington, DC, where he was visited by several generations of poets and artists. Amongst those who visited Pound in the asylum was a young John Berryman, who later wrote “The Dream Songs”—one of the most celebrated 20 th century American poetic sequences—and whose works Dr Swift has edited. Dr Swift’s first book, Bomber County (Hamish Hamilton, 2010), also describes a generation of poets: those English and American writers who were inspired by the troubling aerial bombing campaigns of the Second World War.

North American Literature

Dr Peter Maber specialises in North American literature, having completed his PhD on the poetry of John Berryman under Professor Anne Barton at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has published articles on a broad range of topics in this field, including the role of blackface minstrelsy in Berryman’s poetry; Berryman’s relation to Shakespearean biography; and Allen Ginsberg relation to visual art. One of his current main research projects is a study of the middle generation of twentieth-century American poets, including Delmore Schwartz, Robert Lowell, Berryman and Sylvia Plath.

Dr Daniel Swift has written on many American poets, including Ezra Pound, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Olson. His work on these poets has tended to be both biographical and critical, as it pays attention to their lives and their times as well as their poems, and argues that we might see the most powerful poetry as both reflective and instructive: it teaches us both how to understand our experiences and how to live our lives.

Comparative Literature and Visual Culture

Dr Catherine Brown, who is of Anglo-German parentage, has a strong interest in inter-national and inter-lingual comparison. Her The Reception of George Eliot in Europe (Bloomsbury, 2016) implicitly compares fifteen European countries through their responses to George Eliot from the 1860s to the present. Her The Art of Comparison: How Novels and Critics Compare (Legenda, 2011) not only compares George Eliot’s influence on Lev Tolstoy with Tolstoy’s influence on D.H. Lawrence, but reflects on the nature of comparison itself by focusing on novels which are internally comparative (Daniel Deronda, Anna Karenina and Women in Love). All three novels are also compared in their relation to Goethe’s concept of Weltliteratur. Other comparative projects include articles on the literary relationship of Henry James and Ivan Turgenev, the influence of the concept of ‘the Russian Soul’ on Anglophone modernism, and work in progress on a comparison of the St Lucian poet Derek Walcott and the Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipaul. She is on the editorial board of a Russian academic journal concerning modern Anglophone literature, regularly reviews books of or concerning Russian literature for Literary Review, and lectures in Russia and Belorussia. Her comparative interests led her to make a dissertation on comparative literature the culmination of the English BA major and minor at Northeastern University London.

Dr Charlotte Grant works on links between literature and visual culture and has a background in art history and design history. She edited Imagined Interiors: Representing the Domestic Interior Since the Renaissance (London: V&A Publications, 2006), with Jeremy Aynsley, and has written on William Hogarth, the Society of Arts and women artists in the eighteenth century, and on mid twentieth century British art. She is currently working on a collection of essays relating to the third year English course Cultures of London, which engages with questions of identity and location in relation to London, which will bring together writing on literature, material and visual culture.

Dr Peter Maber writes art criticism for the Times Literary Supplement, and has a broad interest in the intersection of literary and visual culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He is particularly interested in the St. Ives school of British painters, on which he has written widely, having published a monograph on the Leach potter William Marshall (1923-2007), and articles on the poet W.S. Graham’s relation to the St. Ives school, and on the later writings of the postwar abstract artist Roger Hilton (1911-75), in Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/ Visual Enquiry. Other articles include ‘Indian Ink: Francesco Clemente, Allen Ginsberg and the Kalakshetra Press’, in Spaces of the Book, ed. Isabelle Choi and Jean Khalfa (Peter Lang, 2015). He is currently working on an interdisciplinary study of the relationship between poets and painters from the early twentieth century to the present.