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School of English and Drama

Dr Will Bowers, BA (UCL), MSt (Oxford), PhD (UCL), MA (Oxford)

Will

Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Thought

Email: w.bowers@qmul.ac.uk
Room Number: ArtsOne 3.03
Website: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/sed/english/research/centres/qmcecs/
Twitter: @LimeTreeBowers

Profile

I was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, which I left to read for a BA in English at UCL in 2006. I then had a year in Oxford for a masters, before I returned to UCL in 2010 to write a doctoral thesis on Anglo-Italian Romantic poetry with John Mullan. Before submitting my thesis, I spent a miserable but productive six months as a Yale/UCL visiting scholar at Yale University.  I worked at Newcastle University after my doctorate, and then moved to Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, and as a lecturer at New College and Oriel. I joined Queen Mary in 2019.

Teaching

I was taught by generalists to be a generalist, and I believe in teaching a diverse range of forms, texts, and contexts, across periods. I keep Byron’s warning on ‘the drilled dull lesson, forced down word by word’ at the front of my mind, and heed it by trying to read and teach some new primary texts every year.

Research

Research Interests:

  • Eighteenth-century and Romantic Poetry.
  • Literary and cultural exchange between England and Italy.
  • Coteries, salons, and sociability in the long-eighteenth century.
  • Scholarly editions and their digital future.
  • The blank verse tradition (Milton, Thomson, Akenside, Cowper, Wordsworth, Barrett Browning).

Recent and On-Going Research

I maintain interests in literature from the Early Modern to the early Victorian period (the very long eighteenth century)I co-edited Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (2016) to examine the centrality of sociability to literary production, and my current research continues this focus by looking at a specific community—the Holland House circle—alongside a wider consideration of the importance of dining to eighteenth-century literature. I have recently published an article on Charles James Fox, the intellectual lodestar of this circle, and am currently writing an innovative digital monograph about the group’s formation from 1795 to 1806 due to be completed in 2023. In collaboration with the British Library, I am also in the advanced stages of building a digital resource entitled ‘Dined’, which uses records from Holland House to chronicle eighteenth-century dining culture. The resource will launch in 2022.

I’ve published widely on Romantic and Eighteenth-century literature (especially Byron, Percy Bysshe and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and William Wordsworth). My first monograph, The Italian Idea: Radical Anglo-Italian Literary Culture, was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press and was shortlisted for the BARS First Book Prize. I have recently published an article on the Italian monastery at Vallombrosa, which attempts to distil about ten years of thinking on how writers approach places they’ve previously encountered on the page. I have forthcoming essays on Byron’s cosmopolitanism, ‘Table talk’, the editorial history of Goldsmith’s poetry, and the idea of ‘Transit’.

I have a particular interest in the writings of Percy Shelley, and am involved in three major projects concerning him.

  1. I am an editor on the fifth and sixth volumes of the Longman Annotated Poems of Shelley, on which I am responsible for 'The Triumph of Life' and a number of smaller lyrics (due for publication July 2022).
  2. Along with my co-editor Mathelinda Nabugodi (Cambridge University), I am editing a special issue of European Romantic Review entitled ‘Shelley’s Poetry: Ten Readings for the Bicentenary’ which invites new voices in Romanticism to offer bold interpretations of Shelley’s major poems. The special issue will be published in September 2022.
  3. I am one of three editors on a new edition of Shelley’s letters, under contract with Oxford University Press. The edition offers a completely new text of Shelley’s letters based on an innovative methodology and a complete examination of extant manuscripts. We expect to publish the edition in three volumes in 2026, 2030, and 2036.

Publications

Books

The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815–1823 (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Edited Books

Ed. (with Hannah Leah Crummé), Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (London: Palgrave, 2016)

Essays, Articles, and Chapters

‘Wordsworth, Fox, and a Poet’s Public Spirit’, Review of English Studies 72 (2021) 732-755.

'Vallombrosa Visited, 1638–1851,' Modern Philology 118 (2021), 364–389.

'Beppo e la reinvenzione della satira,' Byron in Italia (Bologna: Minerva, 2020), 77–97.

‘An Opening in a Holland House Dinner Book’, RÊVE: Romantic Europe the Virtual Exhibition. Online at Euromanticism.org (2020). For a specially commissioned soundscape inspired by this exhibit, see http://www.euromanticism.org/virtual-exhibition/reve-the-collections/romantic-sounds/.

‘William Cowper’s Pocket Watch’, RÊVE: Romantic Europe the Virtual Exhibition. Online at Euromanticism.org (2020). For a specially commissioned soundscape inspired by this exhibit, see http://www.euromanticism.org/virtual-exhibition/reve-the-collections/romantic-sounds/.

'Shelley reads Schlegel,' L’Analisi Linguistica e Letteraria 27 (2019), 35–44.

'Byron’s Rhyming Clime,' Essays in Criticism 69, (2019), 157–177.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature, ed. Andrew Hadfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

'On first looking into Mary Shelley’s Homer,' Review of English Studies 69 (2018), 510–531.

'Percy Bysshe Shelley’s "I visit thee but thou art sadly changed",' Notes and Queries, 64 (2017), 569–572.

‘The Many Rooms of Holland House’, Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1550–1830 (London: Palgrave, 2016), 159–180.

'Italian Travel, English Tourism, and Byron’s Poetry of Exile,' Litteraria Pragensia 23:46 (2013), 86–102.

'Hunt, Byron, and The Story of Rimini – "A Literary Challenge to the Public Mind,"' Romanticism on the Net 59 (2011).

'The Dilemma of a "Romantic" Anthology: Periodization and The Oxford Book of Regency Verse,' Publishing History 67, 2011, 65–89. 

Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Public Engagement

I am an occasional reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement and have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Open Book’ to discuss how we can use digital techniques to read serialised and diarised literature.

I am passionate about taking my work on Percy and Mary Shelley to wider audiences. Since 2016 I have given short lectures to GCSE English students on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and in 2020 this became a digital lecture to help students unable to access classrooms due to COVID-19 (https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/learning/resources-teachers/frankenstein-revisited-resource). In May 2021 I spoke at a live public roundtable on Percy Shelley’s poem Epipsychidion (recording here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-27Q6wQpV_I) which was attended by more than 200 people.

I am happy to be contacted with invitations to speak at public-facing and educational events, particularly if these are events aimed at access and widening participation.

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