Dr Vladimir Brljak, Trinity Hall



Biographical Information

I am Thole Research Fellow in English at Trinity Hall. Before coming to Cambridge, I studied at Zagreb (BA) and Warwick (PhD), where I also taught courses and seminars on late medieval and Renaissance English literature, Shakespeare, history and theory of literature, and academic writing. I am a recipient of the Review of English Studies Essay Prize (2015), and have held fellowships from the Bodleian Library, Oxford (2017), and the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (2018).

Research Interests

Literary and intellectual history, esp. English and related, esp. 1500-1700, with wider-ranging interests in the history of poetics and hermeneutics in the Western tradition.
My doctoral dissertation examined the place of the allegorical tradition in the literary and intellectual culture of late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and I am now completing a monograph consolidating my doctoral and postdoctoral work on the subject, titled Allegory and Modernity in English Literature and Poetics, 1500-1700. I also continue to be involved in projects that look at allegory and related subjects across disciplinary and periodisational divides. I organized Allegory Studies? (University of Warwick, Nov 2013); co-organized, with Karen Lang and Peter Mack, Rethinking Allegory (Warburg Institute, Oct 2015); and am currently editing Allegory Studies: Contemporary Perspectives, a volume of essays to be published by Routledge in 2018-19, and 'Personification and Allegory: Selves and Signes', an online colloquy for Arcade.
A new project, with a prominent archival and editorial component, deals with developments in English poetics and literary criticism c.1600-1660. This period remains a neglected and misunderstood episode in the history of English poetic thought, typically presented as a fallow interlude between the waning age of Sidney and the dawning age of Dryden; my project seeks to reverse this long-standing trend and recover what is in fact a moment of exceptional interest in the history of the subject. Among the first fruits of this research will be editions of three unpublished texts from this period: an essay on The Causes and Obiects of Delectation by Kenelm Digby, and two literary-critical fictions—The Ball and The Court of Astraea with the Arraignement of Romances—by Philip Kinder.
Relating to this interests is Poetics before Modernity: a collaborative interdisciplinary project, convened with Micha Lazarus, aimed at rethinking the history of literary theory in the West from classical antiquity to the eighteenth century CE. The project's outputs have included an eponymous seminar series (Cambridge, 2016-17) and a conference (CRASSH, Dec 2017), and two publications, co-edited with Dr Lazarus, are currently under consideration (for details, see below in Publications).  
Another major long-term interest is the work of John Milton. My current Miltonist book project is entitled 'Paradise Lost' as Science Fiction: science fiction in the narrow sense, of a poem which has a lot to say about other worlds, space travel, and encounters with extraterrestrial beings, but also in a broader sense, of being a imaginative expression of a number of heterodox theological and philosophical views which Milton came to embrace by the 1650s, and which, among other sources, informed what he would have seen as his 'scientific' understanding of the world. What happens, this work asks, if instead of ignoring or allegorizing it, we take Milton’s science fiction seriously, including its furthest and least explored reaches: its radically material universe; its heretical, anti-trinitarian deity; its metabolizing, warring, deep-space-traveling, shape-shifting angels; its theanthropomorphic humans; even its anti-allegories of Sin and Death and the Pavilion of Chaos, which have baffled readers for centuries, but which also find a place in the poem's intricate design.

Selected Publications

  • [under consideration] Allegory and Modernity in English Literature and Poetics, 1500-1700
  • [forthcoming, 2019-20] Poetics before Modernity: Literary Theory in the West from Antiquity to 1700, collection with Oxford University Press, co-edited with Micha Lazarus
  • [forthcoming, 2019-20] 'Artes poeticae: Formations and Transformations, 1500-1650', special issue of Classical Receptions Journal, co-edited with Micha Lazarus
  • [forthcoming, 2019] Allegory Studies: Contemporary Perspectives, edited collection, under contract with Routledge
  • [forthcoming, 2018] 'Personification and Allegory: Selves and Signs', edited online colloquy, Arcade
  • [forthcoming, 2019] 'Inventing Renaissance Poetics: Modernity, Allegory, and the History of Literary Theory', in Beyond Aristotle's 'Poetics': New Directions in Italian Renaissance Literary Criticism, ed. Bryan Brazeau (Bloomsbury)
  • 'Hamlet and the Soul-Sleepers', Reformation and Renaissance Review 20.3 (2018); [published online 18 Jul 2018]
  • 'The Age of Allegory', Studies in Philology 114 (2017): 697-719
  • 'Notes on the Religious Element in Hamlet', Notes and Queries, n.s., 64 (2017): 274-78
  • 'The Satanic "or": Milton and Protestant Anti-Allegorism', The Review of English Studies, n.s., 66 (2015): 403-22 [link]
  • 'Early Comments on Milton’s Anti-Trinitarianism', Milton Quarterly 49 (2015): 44-50
  • 'Allegorical Readings of Paradise Lost', in Milton through the Centuries, ed. Gábor Ittzés and Miklós Péti (Budapest: Károli Gáspár University, 2012), 102-12
  • 'Hamlet and Lameth', Notes and Queries, n.s., 59 (2011): 247-54
  • 'Unediting Deor', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 112 (2011): 297-321
  • 'Borges and the North', Studies in Medievalism 20 (2011): 99-128 [long version]
  • 'The Lutheran "Faustus" in Foxe's Acts and Monuments', ANQ 23 (2010): 207-10
  • 'An Allusion to Purgatory in Hamlet', Notes and Queries, n.s., 57 (2010): 379-80
  • [forthcoming] Review of Donovan Sherman, Second Death: Theatricalities of the Soul in Shakespeare's Drama (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), Shakespeare Quarterly
Selected Talks
  • [forthcoming] 'Dead Water in English Criticism: Tradition and Innovation from Bacon to Dryden', STVDIO, Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick, 9 Oct
  • 'Classical Myth in English Poetics after 1600', 8th Biennial Conference of the Society for Renaissance Studies, University of Sheffield, 3-5 Jul 2018
  • 'Inventing Renaissance Poetics: Modernity, Allegory, and the History of Literary Theory', Workshop in Poetics, Stanford University, 10 Apr 2018
  • Roundtable participant, 'What Now for Allegory Studies?', 64th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans, 22-24 Mar 2018
  • 'The Critical Fantasies of Philip Kinder', 63rd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Chicago, 29 Mar-1 Apr 2017
  • 'Paradise Lost as Science Fiction', keynote lecture, Anglophonia: International Student Conference in English Studies, Department of English, University of Zagreb, 4-6 May 2017 
  • '(Neo)allegory and (Anti)modernity', Redefining Allegory, Queen Mary University of London, 24 Sep 2016
  • 'Hamlet' in 1603, series of three public lectures—'Hamlet in Heaven', 'Hamlet in Purgatory', 'Hamlet in Hell'—hosted by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, in association with the British Council and the British Embassy, Zagreb, as part of the Shakespeare Lives project, 11-13 Apr 2016
  • 'Allegorical Poetics in England after 1600: Fishing in the Dead Water', Renaissance Graduate Seminar, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, 9 Feb 2016
  • '"[S]ome shadowe of satisfaction": Bacon's Poetics Reconsidered', 61st Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Humboldt University, Berlin, 26-28 Mar 2015
  • '"[T]he causes and obiects of delectation": An Unpublished Essay on Poetic Theory by Kenelm Digby', 6th Biennial Conference of the Society for Renaissance Studies, University of Southampton, 13-15 Jul 2014
  • 'Satan's Allegories and Milton's Epics', 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York, 27-29 Mar 2014
  • 'The Age of Allegory: A Medievalist Myth and Its Legacy', The Middle Ages in the Modern World, University of St Andrews, 25-28 Jun 2013
  • 'Allegory and Modernity in English Poetics, c.1570-1630: Locations and Dislocations', Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, University of Toronto, 4-7 Apr 2013