PhD in 18th Century and Romantic Literature

Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies PhDs in Cambridge

1. Research in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature continues to flourish in the Cambridge English Faculty. The diversity and intensity of thought and art in this key period are reflected at every level of our teaching, conversation and writing. Doctoral students participate in a research community which meets regularly, and which offers support and training from peers and professionals. The Cambridge tradition of close collaboration with a supervisor is enriched by opportunities to present research papers, to participate in professional training, and to contribute to specialist and general undergraduate teaching.

2. Research and publications in eighteenth-century literature and Romanticism
At Cambridge, traditions of close reading and attention to literary form are reinvigorated by innovative and challenging ideas. Here, there are as many approaches to criticism in the period as there are long eighteenth centuries or Romanticisms. The lively conversation between philosophy and art in the eighteenth century continues in our research; the Cambridge English Faculty is a notable centre of Lyric Studies, with a particular focus on the poetry of the Romantic period, but long poems, hymns, essays, novels and children’s stories also figure in our criticism; the interrelation of literature with other disciplines is well represented by faculty members working on aesthetics, material texts and cultures, economic and political theory, the study of language, classical antiquity, theology, working class and children’s literature.

Faculty Members with research interests in the period, most of whom act as PhD supervisors or advisors for topics in the eighteenth century or Romantic period include:

Dr Ruth Abbott, Dr Louise Joy
Dr Jamie Baxendine Professor Angela Leighton
Dr Paul Chirico Dr Amy Morris
Dr Philip Connell Dr Fred Parker
Dr Ildiko Csengei Dr Sophie Read
Professor Peter de Bolla Dr Corinna Russell
Dr Caroline Gonda Dr Christopher Tilmouth
Dr Mina Gorji Dr Anne Toner
Dr Sarah Haggarty Dr Marcus Tomalin
Dr Nick Hardy Dr Stefan Uhlig
Dr Edward Holberton Dr Jennifer Wallace
Dr Sarah Houghton-Walker Dr Kathleen M. Wheeler
Dr Ewan Jones Dr Ross Wilson


Areas of individual interest and publication include the history of literary criticism and aesthetics; lyric studies; philosophies of literary form; manuscript studies; poetry and political thought; ideas of selfhood; repetition and literary representation; Sapphism in the long eighteenth century; republicanism; poetics of the accidental and particular; gypsies; literature and affect; representations of smell; physiological and sentimental discourses; Austen’s style; classical reception in the Romantic period. 

Topics of recent and current doctoral research include:  Truth and lies in Shelley’s Poetry and Prose; Knowledge and its limits in Wordsworth’s prose works and shorter poems;
Eighteenth-Century Shakespeares in France and England; The Voice of the People: Representing the Public, 1678-1707; Clare’s Subtle Nature: Metaphor, Allegory and Subtext in the Published Volumes, 1820-1835; Methodist Literary Culture; Temporal anxiety in Milton, Thomson and Wordsworth; Wittgensteinian critique of language in the long eighteenth century; Memorisation and Mental Space in the Work of Isaac Watts and Lewis Carroll; Memories and Rural Visions in William Wordsworth and John Constable.

3. Activities
Activities involving graduates, postdoctoral research fellows and senior Faculty members include a fortnightly seminar in eighteenth-century and Romantic studies in term-time, which combines internal and invited speakers, panel and reading group discussions. One highlight of the academic year is the annual conference, held over a weekend in the Easter vacation and now in its third decade. The conference is run by Cambridge graduates, with panel chairs from the senior faculty, an invited external respondent of international reputation and graduate speakers from universities across the world. 

4.  Links to Research Groups: Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies; Nineteenth Century; Material Texts; Criticism and Culture.