Prof Michael Hurley, Trinity



Biographical Information

Michael D. Hurley is Professor of Literature and Theology, and a Fellow and Director of Studies at Trinity College.

Educated at the Universities of Cambridge (PhD) and St Andrews (MA), he has taught at Cambridge since 2005. He was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard in 2009, a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, in 2021, and he will be a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne in 2024.

He is co-editor of The Hopkins Quarterly, subject editor for Journal of Inkling Studies (G. K. Chesterton), and Honorary Professor (Professore honoris causa in artes liberals) of the International Institute for Hermeneutics at Warsaw University, Poland. He was Wordsworth Crausaz Interdisciplinary Fellow in Philosophy at CRASSH in 2018, he serves on the Scientific Committee of The Global Council for Anthropological Linguistics, SOAS, University of London, and on the editorial board of the Cambridge Elements series in Literature and Religion since 1500.

More information can be found on his personal website

Research Interests

Professor Hurley works mostly on the writing, thought, and culture of the late modern period (c.1750-present). He is especially interested in form and style, and how qualities of 'literariness' can enable writers to say, think, or do things that could not otherwise be said, thought, or done. Much of his work has therefore an interdisciplinary edge to it, drawing on philosophy and theology to explore the connections between the way books and poems make us feel and what they invite us to understand. Above all, his research is directed towards ultimate questions and questions of value.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

PhD and MPhil dissertations on nineteenth and twentieth century literature and non-fiction prose, and on the relations of literary form and style to philosophy and theology.

Past PhDs under his supervision have included: Sarah Weaver, Fossil Poetry: Tennyson and Victorian Philology; Adam Crothers, Paul Muldoon and the Place of Rhyme; Anna Nickerson, Frontiers of Consciousness: Tennyson, Hardy, Hopkins, Eliot; Michael Skansgaard, The “Aesthetic” of the Blues Aesthetic: Langston Hughes and Vernacular Close-Reading; Thomas Docherty, Consummatum est: the end of the word in Geoffrey Hill; R. Eric Tippin, Playing Modern: Essaying, 1880-1920, Wilde, Chesterton, Woolf

Selected Publications


Journal Special Issue

Articles, Essays, Chapters

  • "The Shattered Majesty of Newman's Spontaneous Style", Religion and Literature, 55.1 (Spring 2023): 157-176.
  • "The Charge of God: Laudato Si read through Chesterton, Wordsworth, and Hopkins", Literature and Theology, 37.3 (2023): 216–240. 
  • "Pater and Religion", in The Cambridge Companion to Walter Pater, ed. Francis O'Gorman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).
  • "Sonnet", in Gerard Manley Hopkins in Context, ed. Marton Dubois (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).
  • "Form, Matter, and Metaphysics, in Walter Pater's essay on 'Style'", in Walter Pater and the Beginnings of English Studies, ed. Charles Martindale, Lene Østermark-Johansen, and Elizabeth Prettejohn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).
  • "Style", in The Cambridge Companion to Prose, ed. Daniel Tyler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).
  • "Wrestling with Gerard Manley Hopkins", Textual Practice, Volume 35, Issue 2 (2021): 921-940.
  • "The Fate of Angels in the Nineteenth Century", Religion and Literature 51.3-52.1 (2020): 5-18.
  • "Theologies of Inspiration: William Blake and Gerard M. Hopkins", in Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary, Historical, and Religious Studies in Dialogue, ed. Joshua King and Winter Jade Werner (Ohio State University Press, 2019), Ch. 14.
  • "Sound", in William Blake in Context, ed. Sarah Haggarty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), Ch. 15.
  • "John Henry Newman, thinking out into language", in Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), Ch. 6.
  • "Introduction: Thinking, Thinkers, Style, Stylists", co-written with Marcus Waithe, in Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • "Passion and Playfulness in the Letters of G. M. Hopkins", in Letter Writing Among Poets: from William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop ed. Jonathan Ellis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 141-54.
  • "G. K. Chesterton", in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature ed. Dino Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert and Linda K. Hughes (New York: Blackwell, 2015)
  • "Rhythm", in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry ed. Matthew Bevis (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 19-35.
  • "Why Chesterton Loved London", in G. K. Chesterton, London and Modernity ed. Matthew Beaumont and Matthew Ingleby (London: Continuum, 2013), pp. 15-14.
  • "On or about July 1877", in Victorian Transformations: Genre, Nationalism, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Literature ed. Bianca Tredennick (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 61-67.
  • "George Saintsbury's History of English Prosody', Essays in Criticism 60.4 (2010): 336-60.
  • "How Philosophers Trivialize Art: Bleak House, Oedipus Rex, 'Leda and the Swan'", Philosophy and Literature 33.1 (2009): 107-125.
  • "The Status of Poetry as an Aesthetic Object", Semiotica, Revue de l'Association Internationale de Semiotique 169.1/4 (2008): 71-92.
  • "Scansion", 4500-word entry in The Literary Encyclopedia (2008)
  • "The Pragmatics of Prosody", Style 41.1 (2007): 53-113.
  • "What Sprung Rhythm Really Is NOT", Hopkins Quarterly 33.3 (2006): 71-94.
  • "Interpreting Dante's Terza Rima", Forum for Modern Language Studies 43.3 (2005): 320-331.
  • "Darkening the Subject of Hopkins' Prosody", Victorian Poetry 43.4 (2005): 485-496.
  • "The Audible Reading of Poetry Revisited", British Journal of Aesthetics 44.4 (2004): 393-407.


  • Frederick D. Aquino and Benjamin J. King (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman. In British Catholic History 34.4 (2019): 675-678.
  • Paul Murray OP, God's Spies: Michelangelo, Shakespeare and Other Poets of Vision. In The Tablet. 27 April 2019
  • Reuven Tsur, Poetic Rhythm, Structure and Performance: an Empirical Study in Cognitive Poetics. In Cambridge Quarterly 43.4 (2014): 389-394.
  • Douglas Kerr, Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession and Practice. In Cambridge Quarterly 43.1 (2014): 60-66.
  • Meredith Martin, The Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860-1930. In Victorian Review 39.2 (Fall 2013): 221-223.
  • Joseph Phelan, The Music of Verse, and Meter Matters ed. Jason Hall. In Cambridge Quarterly 42.1 (2013): 62-67.
  • Northrop Frye, Selected Letters, 1934-1991. In English 59.227 (2010): 99-102.
  • James I. Wimsatt, Hopkins's Poetics of Speech Sound. In Modern Philology 107.4 (2008): 126-130.
  • Colin Jager, The Book of God: Secularization and Design in the Romantic Era. In Times Literary Supplement 16.5.2008.
  • Angela Leighton, On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word. In Cambridge Quarterly 36.3 (2008): 263-269.
  • Daniel Brown, Gerard Manley Hopkins. In Hopkins Quarterly 42.3-4 (2006): 63-67.
  • Al Alvarez, The Writer's Voice. In Times Literary Supplement 18.3.2005
  • Nicholas Boyle, Sacred and Secular Scriptures: A Catholic Approach to Literature. In Times Literary Supplement 2.11.2005
  • Alison Chapman, Richard Cronin and Anthony H. Harrison (eds.), A Companion to Victorian Poetry. In The Tennyson Research Bulletin 8.3 (2004)

Some examples of literary journalism on: Hopkins; Newman; Conan Doyle