Dr Ross Wilson, Emmanuel




Biographical Information

I was born in Salford and brought up in Manchester, where I attended Philips High School and Bury College. I was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and University College London before completing my doctorate at Cambridge in 2004. I held a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel (2004-7) and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Faculty of English, Cambridge (2007-9) before being appointed to a Lectureship in Literature at the University of East Anglia in 2009. I returned to Cambridge in 2013 as Lecturer in Criticism in the Faculty of English and was a Fellow of Trinity College from 2013 until 2019, before rejoining Emmanuel, where I am a Fellow once again.

I work chiefly on the history, theory, and practice of literary criticism and on Romantic and Victorian poetry. I have just completed a project on the generic forms of literary criticism, provisionally entitled Critical Forms. My writing has appeared in New Literary History, Textual Practice, Romanticism, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, Frieze, and other venues. I have been on BBC 4 talking about Alexander Pope and the Thames, on BBC Radio 4 talking about Lord Byron as a student, and on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire regaling commuters with discussions of Lord Byron (again), literary love letters, and much else besides.

You can see my full CV here.

Research Interests

The history, theory, and practice of literary criticism; Romanticism; poetry in English from 1750 to the present; 'animacy' and artworks; literature and theology; literature, politics, and ethics.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I welcome enquiries concerning postgraduate supervision in the areas suggested by 'Research Interests' above. Examples of the topics of dissertations that I have supervised or examined at doctoral level (not all at Cambridge) include: contemporary siege literature; Adrian Stokes and lapidary aesthetics; Ludwig Wittgenstein and the philosophy of translation; the fate of practical criticism; Percy Shelley and enlightenment; the late nineteenth-century essay; Henry James and the sonic imagination. I have supervised dissertations on a still wider range of topics at M.Phil. level.

Selected Publications


Shelley and the Apprehension of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2013; pbk 2016)

Editor, The Meaning of ‘Life’ in Romantic Poetry and Poetics (Routledge, 2009)

Theodor Adorno (Routledge, 2007). Chinese translation: Chongqing University Press, 2016

Subjective Universality in Kant’s Aesthetics (Peter Lang, 2007)

Essays and book chapters

'The Most Vivid Poetry: The Bible and/as Poetry in Byron and Shelley', in The Bible and Literature, ed. by Stephen Prickett and Elisabeth Jay (T&T Clark, forthcoming)

'Strange Designs: Byron, Shelley, and Ottava Rima', in Byron Among the English Poets, ed. by Matthew Ward and Clare Bucknell (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

‘“We Manufacture Fun”: Capital and the Production of Affect’, in Affect and Literature, ed. by Alex Houen (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

‘The Hidden Seeds of Survival’, New Literary History, 49 (2018), 149-63

‘Shelley’s Plato’, in The Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies and Philosophy, ed. by Philip Wilson and Piers Rawling (Routledge, 2018)

‘Ruskin/Browning, Alpenstock/Hatchet’, in The Labour of Literature in Britain and France, 1830-1930: Authorial Work Ethics, ed. by Marcus Waithe and Claire White (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

‘Henry James at Any Rate’, Henry James Review, 38 (2017), 250-59

‘Hegel and the Matter of Poetry’, Textual Practice, DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2016.1218686 [published online 21 October 2016]

‘Reading Habits’, Thinking Verse, 4:2 (2015) http://www.thinkingverse.com/issue04b.html

‘Browning’s Balancing Acts’, in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, ed. by Matthew Bevis (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp.337-50

‘The Beautiful and the Sublime’, in The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought, ed. by George Pattison, Graham Ward, and Nick Adams (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp.419-34

‘Clare’s Indistinct Array’, Romanticism, 17 (2011), 148-59

‘New Critical Theory’, in Michael Ryan (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, Blackwell Publishing, 2011. Blackwell Reference Online. http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/book?id=g9781405183123_9781405183123

‘Shelley’s Sounds of Air’, Thinking Verse, 1 (2010), http://www.thinkingverse.com

‘Introduction’, in The Meaning of ‘Life’ in Romantic Poetry and Poetics (see above under ‘Books’), pp.1-12

‘Poetry as Reanimation in Shelley’, in The Meaning of ‘Life’ in Romantic Poetry and Poetics (see above under ‘Books’), pp.125-145

‘Voluptuousness and Asceticism in Adorno’, in ‘Writing Pleasure Now’, special issue of German Life and Letters, ed. by Lucia Ruprecht and Michael Minden, 62 (2009), 270-83

‘Robert Browning’s Compounds’, Literature Compass, 6 (2009), 524-31

‘Dialectical Aesthetics and the Kantian Rettung: On Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory’, New German Critique, 104 (2008), 55-69

‘Coleridge’s German “Absolutism”’, in Coleridge’s Afterlives, ed. by James Vigus and Jane Wright (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2008), pp.171-87

‘Aesthetics’, in Adorno: Key Concepts, ed. by Deborah Cook (Stocksfield: Acumen, 2008), pp.147-60

‘Coleridge and the Life of Language’, Coleridge Bulletin, n.s. 27 (2006), 38-44

Reviews and other writing

Over forty reviews and essays in: British Journal of Aesthetics; CAM; Cambridge Quarterly; Coleridge Bulletin; Frieze; Keats-Shelley Journal; The Liberal; Literature and Theology; Music & Letters; New Statesman; Radical Philosophy; Review of English Studies; Romantic Circles Reviews and Receptions; Textual Practice; The Times Literary Supplement. Full details available on request.

Television and radio

Numerous contributions to ‘Ignorance Amnesty’, Thordis at Drivetime, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, November 2017–

Contribution on love letters, Thordis at Drivetime, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 14 February 2018

Contribution on Lord Byron, Thordis at Drivetime, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 20 November 2017

In Search of Arcadia [contribution on Alexander Pope and the Thames], BBC4, 9 August 2017

‘Lords and Sizars’ [contribution on Lord Byron at Trinity College], Student Life Through the Ages, BBC Radio 4, 22 April 2016


Co-editor, Romantic Circles Reviews and Receptions