Dr James Morland
Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow
I joined the Wellcome-funded 'Pathologies of Solitude: 18th-21st Century' project at Queen Mary in January 2019. Before that I was at King's college London from 2013-2018 where I completed an interdisciplinary MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies and my PhD on the reception of ancient philosophies of death in eighteenth-century poetry.
As part of the 'Pathologies of Solitude' project, I am writing a monograph on the broader cultural connection between solitude and questions of life and death in the eighteenth century.
My research interests lie in the poetry of the long eighteenth century and its intersections with philosophy and medicine, including the relationship between materialism and poetic rhythms, the use of poetry in medical discourse, and poetry as a means of processing death and grief.
I consider eighteenth-century poetry and its connections with philosophy and medicine, specifically in relation to questions of life, death, and what it means to be solitary. My current project focuses on the figures of the physician, the philosopher, the mourner, and the wanderer. I look at examples of each of these figures as a means of understanding why people turned to poetry to discover what it meant to be alone. Death is the great equaliser across the century, leading the philosophical poet to the edges of the universe to teach of atomism or religion to allay our fear of death, the physician to question and write on the vital fire of life, or the graveyard poet to lead their poetic narrator to their own death. Death, and the questions it raises, allows us to read the varying contexts of solitude and potentially disparate voices in the eighteenth century, together.
I am particularly interested in the ways in which poetry, with its carefully chosen rhymes and rhythms, has the power to offer a means and space for reflection on these broader questions for both poet and reader.
'"Master Tommy Lucretius": Thomas Gray’s posthumous life writing and conversing with the dead in his poetry to Richard West’, European Journal of Life Writing (special issue on ‘Life Writing and Death’). Forthcoming.
‘The Influence of Lucretius on Unity in The Waves’, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 38, (Sept, 2011).