Lewis Roberts, PhD candidate in English at St John’s College, Cambridge, and supervisor for the Faculty, has been awarded the Jane Eliza Procter Fellowship at Princeton University for the academic year 2023-2024. Lewis will use this time at Princeton to work on historical poetics, including a critical appraisal of this method for the study of poetic composition. They also hope to design a computer programme using Natural Language Processing to analyse the metrical and rhythmical properties of large numbers of poems.
The Procter Fellowship has previously been held by former members of the Faculty, including Eric Griffiths, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, and Joe Moshenska, as well as the computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing. The Fellowship allows early-career scholars to join Princeton to develop new skills and to broaden their research portfolio.
The Fellowship is awarded not only for academic achievement, but also rewards work in the wider community. Lewis leads the Governing Body of a school near Oxford, with responsibility for Safeguarding and children for whom English is an additional language. They also direct the Footlights comedy troupe, and have produced over a dozen shows across the UK. They have played the saxophone and sung in several ensembles, and they are an active political campaigner.
Lewis said “I am amazed and grateful in equal measure to be awarded this Fellowship. For someone who has often worried about balancing academia with wider interests, it has been deeply moving to have community and artistic work recognised in this way. I want to thank everyone who has shaped me as a scholar, but especially Michael Hurley who constantly pushes me to expect more from myself, and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst who taught me how to meet those expectations. I would also like to thank Susan Wolfson and Meredith Martin at Princeton for their support.”
Lewis graduated with a BA and MSt from Magdalen College, Oxford, and has been supported by the Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities, and the Senior Mackinnon Scholarship from Magdalen. Their PhD is a study of the ends of poetic lines in poetry of the nineteenth century, and seeks to place this granular aspect of poetic form within historical, philosophical, and archival contexts. Lewis’s work has also been awarded grants or prizes from the British Association for Romantic Studies, St John’s College, Cambridge, and the Rothermere American Institute. Alongside their PhD, Lewis has expertise on the author and artist Simeon Solomon (1840-1905).