Dr Ruth Abbott, St John's




Biographical Information

I am an Associate Professor in the English Faculty, and a Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College. I have held fellowships at Cornell University, the University of Oxford, the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (Cambridge), the Harvard University Institute for Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence), the Huntington Library (California), and the Beinecke Library (Yale University).

At undergraduate level, I teach practical criticism and critical practice and the literature and history of the 18th and 19th centuries. At graduate level, I supervise MPhil and PhD students working in textual scholarship and on 18th and 19th century topics, and teach for MPhil strands in Material Texts and 18th and 19th century topics. I have received CUSU student-led teaching awards for both supervising and lecturing and a University Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching.

I have served as the Faculty's Outreach Officer and on the University's Outreach Steering Group, and on College and Faculty committees on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity. As a member of the University's Harassment Avoidance Working Group, I helped to develop 'Breaking the Silence', a campaign to improve the prevention, response, support, and investigation of harassment and sexual misconduct across the collegiate university.

Research Interests

My research and teaching focus on textual scholarship and 18th- and 19th-century manuscripts, chiefly notebooks and the history of note-taking, with an emphasis on compositional practices, reading practices (including prosody and reading aloud), research practices, the history of scholarship, the organisation of knowledge, and the history of institutions such as libraries, universities, and museums. I am editor, with Michael Rossington, of The Poems of Wordsworth for the Longman Annotated English Poets series (Routledge). I am also editor of the Cambridge Digital Library collection Thomas Gray Manuscripts, which presents digital editions of Cambridge manuscripts relating to Thomas Gray: https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/thomasgray

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I have supervised graduate research on topics including antiquarianism, book history, empire, historiography, the history of reading, the history of universities, iconography, literary composition, manuscript studies, medicine, philosophies of language, poetics, textual scholarship, and the Victorian bible, and on authors including Thomas Gray, Anna Barbauld, the Brontës, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Clare, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Butler, and Virginia Woolf. I would be glad to hear from potential graduate students wishing to work with me on any project relating to textual scholarship and/or 18th or 19th century topics. 

Selected Publications

Recent and forthcoming publications include: