School of English and Drama

Professor David Duff, BA, DPhil (York), FEA


Professor of Romanticism



I joined Queen Mary in 2016, having previously taught for many years at the University of Aberdeen. In 2015 I was a professeur invité at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and I earlier taught for a semester at the College of William and Mary in the USA. I grew up in Nottingham and studied at the University of York for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. After completing my doctorate, I taught English and American literature in Poland at the Nicholas Copernicus University of Torun and at the University of Gdansk, where I was British Council lecturer for two years.

I retain close links with Europe and recently launched the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, an international research forum involving other colleges of the University of London and a number of French institutions. It invites visiting speakers from across Europe and beyond, as well as bringing together Romanticists in the London area. I am interested in all aspects of Romanticism, including its international dimension. My other main research interest is the history and theory of genres, and literary theory more generally.

I take an active part in professional life and served from 2011 to 2014 as Chair of the Council for College and University English (now University English). I am currently Deputy Chair of the English Association and a Member of its Board of Trustees. I also chair the Common English Forum, a body which brings together organisations connected with English studies in schools and universities and meets regularly with the Department for Education.


Much of my teaching is in the area of Romanticism but I also teach earlier and later periods and enjoy teaching modules which bridge different historical periods and explore the interconnections between texts, via genre or otherwise. I also have a keen interest in literary theory and in the relationship between literature, theory and history.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH102: Reading, Theory and Interpretation
  • ESH286: Romantics and Revolutionaries (convener)
  • ESH6056 Magical Narratives: Transformations of Romance
  • ESH6041: Guillotines, Ghosts and Laughing Gas: Literature in the 1790s (convener)

Postgraduate Teaching

  • ESH7014: Ideas and Metaphors: 1700-1820
  • ESH7061: Romanticism and Genre (convener)


Research Interests:

  • Romantic poetry and prose
  • Shelley and his circle
  • The 1790s
  • Literary theory, especially theories of genre, intertextuality and influence
  • History of the book

Recent and On-Going Research

My main current research project is a literary history of the ‘prospectus’, a type of printed advertisement widely used in the British book trade of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries which was adopted and creatively transformed by Romantic writers, notably in Wordsworth’s ‘Prospectus’ to The Recluse. This is the first-ever study of a largely forgotten genre which was a ubiquitous presence in the Romantic book world and profoundly influenced the development of Romantic poetics.

My work on the prospectus is part of a broader interest in literary forms and formats and in ideas about genre in the Romantic period. In Romanticism and the Uses of Genre (2009), I explored a wide range of genres and genre theories from 1760 to 1830, addressing such topics as generic primitivism and forgery; Enlightenment philosophy and the ‘cognitive turn’; the impact of German transcendental aesthetics; the role of genre in the French Revolution debate; the poetics of the fragment and sketch; and the theory and practice of genre-mixing. This book was widely reviewed and won the ESSE Book Award for Literatures in the English Language.

My first book was on Percy Bysshe Shelley, the French Revolution and the genre of romance: Romance and Revolution: Shelley and the Politics of a Genre (1994). I have continued to publish on Shelley, particularly his early poetry, and contributed to two pioneering collections, The Unfamiliar Shelley (2009) and The Neglected Shelley (2015), as well as to The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, (2012).

My continuing interest in the literary impact of the French Revolution is reflected in Romanticism and the Uses of Genre and in my chapter on Burke and Paine in The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the French Revolution in the 1790s (2011). I recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Litteraria Pragensia on ‘Wordsworth and France’, the first collection of essays on this topic. The volume, which originated in a symposium I helped to organise in Paris in 2017, includes a paper on mine on Wordsworth’s unpublished pamphlet A Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff and a virtual round table I chaired on the ‘French’ books of The Prelude. A free download of the special issue is available on the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar website.

I have also published a widely-used anthology, Modern Genre Theory (2000), and a co-edited collection of essays, Scotland, Ireland, and the Romantic Aesthetic (2007), which contributed to the development of a ‘Four Nations’ approach to Romanticism. More recently, I have written on cognitive poetics, a branch of literary theory I connect with earlier theories of literary form and perception. This is a central concern, too, of my projected history of bad poetry in English, a Coleridgean idea I hope to pursue at some point in the future. 

My latest publication is The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism (2018), a collection of 46 specially commissioned essays which offers unprecedented coverage of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish Romanticism and presents a radical new vision of the Romantic period. I am also currently editing The Oxford Anthology of Romanticism, which, like my Oxford Handbook, will offer a conceptual remapping of the field and contain a wider range of primary texts and contextual material than is found in existing anthologies of Romanticism.



Monographs and Edited Collections

The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism, ed. David Duff (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Wordsworth and France, ed. David Duff, Marc Porée and Martin Procházka, special issue of Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture, 27, no. 54 (2017)

Romanticism and the Uses of Genre (Oxford University Press, 2009, pbk 2013)

Scotland, Ireland, and the Romantic Aesthetic, ed. David Duff and Catherine Jones (Bucknell University Press, 2007)

Modern Genre Theory, ed. David Duff (Longman, 2000)

Romance and Revolution: Shelley and the Politics of a Genre (Cambridge University Press, 1994, pbk 2005)


Selected Journal Articles and Book Chapters

‘The Prospectus War of the 1790s: Literary Advertising in an Age of Revolution’, in Eighteenth-Century Life, special issue on ‘Literary Ephemera’, ed. Sandro Jung (forthcoming in 2019)

‘The Eighteenth Century and Romanticism’, in William Blake in Context, ed. Sarah Haggarty (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2019)

‘Wordsworth’s Anglo-French Pamphlet: Public Argument and Private Confession in “A Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff”’, in Wordsworth and France, ed. David Duff, Marc Porée and Martin Procházka. Special issue of Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture, 27, no. 54 (2017), 76-95

‘The “French” Books of The Prelude: A Virtual Round Table’, co-authored with Marc Porée, Christoph Bode, Martin Procházka, Laurent Folliot, Christy Edwall, in Wordsworth and France, ed. David Duff, Marc Porée and Martin Procházka. Special issue of Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture, 27, no. 54 (2017), 114-54

‘Turns, Transports and Transformations: Lyric Events in Romantic Poetry', in Narratives of Romanticism: Selected Papers from the Wuppertal Conference of the German Society for English Romanticism, ed. Sandra Heinen and Katharina Rennhak (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2017), 137-48

'Harps, Heroes and Yelling Vampires: The 1810 Poetry Collections', in The Neglected Shelley, ed. Alan Weinberg and Timothy Webb (Ashgate, 2015), 51-76

‘Preludes to Knowledge: The Poetics of the Encyclopaedia Prospectus’, in Romanticism and Knowledge, ed. Felicitas Meifert-Menhard, Stefanie Fricke and Katharina Pink (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2015), 189-200

'Wordsworth's "Prospectus": The Genre', The Wordsworth Circle 45.2 (2014), 178-84. Special issue, 'The Excursion: A Bicentenary Celebration', ed. Tom Duggett and Jacob Risinger

'Hamlet and the Romantic Critical Tradition’, Nuovi Quaderni del CRIER, Anno X - 2013, Il Romanticismo Oggi (Fiorini, 2014), 13-32

'Melodies of Mind: Poetic Forms as Cognitive Structures', in Cognition, Literature and History, ed. Mark Bruhn and Donald Wehrs (Routledge, 2014), 17-38

'The Retuning of the Sky: Romanticism and Lyric', in The Lyric Poem: Formations and Transformations, ed. Marion Thain (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 135-55

'Novelization and its Discontents', in Anglistentag 2011 Freiburg: Proceedings, ed. Monika Fludernik and Bernd Kortmann (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012), 113-23

'Charles Lamb's Art of Intimation', The Wordsworth Circle, 42.2 (2012), 127-34

'Lyric Development: Esdaile Notebook to 1816 Hymns', in The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Michael O'Neill and Anthony Howe, with Madeleine Callaghan (Oxford University Press, 2012), 240-55

'Intimations of Informality: Ode and the Essay Form', in Informal Romanticism, ed. James Vigus, Studien zur Englischen Romantik (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012), 145-59

'Burke and Paine: Contrasts', in The Cambridge Companion to British Writing of the French Revolution in the 1790s, ed. Pamela Clemit (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 47-70

'Superscriptions of Bliss: Influence and Form in the Poetry of Lawrence', in Reading, Writing and the Influence of Harold Bloom, ed. Alan Rawes and Jonathon Shears (Manchester University Press, 2010), 193-216

'"The Casket of My Unknown Mind": The 1813 Volume of Minor Poems', in The Unfamiliar Shelley, ed. Alan Weinberg and Timothy Webb (Ashgate, 2009), 41-67

'Wordsworth and the Language of Forms: The Collected Poems of 1815', The Wordsworth Circle, 34.2 (2003), 86-90

'Maximal Tensions and Minimal Conditions: Tynianov as Genre Theorist', New Literary History, 34.3 (2003), 553-63. ‘Theorizing Genres 2’ special issue, ed. Ralph Cohen and Hayden White

'Muir’s Facsimiles and the Missing Visions', Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, 37.1 (2003), 32-34

'Intertextuality versus Genre Theory: Bakhtin, Kristeva and the Question of Genre', Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory, 25.1 (2002), 54-73

'Anti-Didacticism as a Contested Principle in Romantic Aesthetics', Eighteenth-Century Life, 25.2 (2001), 256-74

'The Ode and Its Afterlife', in Paradoksy humanistyki: Ksiaga pamiatkowa ku czci Profesora Andrzeja Zgorzelskiego, ed. Ola Kubinska and David Malcolm (University of Gdansk Press, 2001), 103-14

'Paratextual Dilemmas: Wordsworth’s "The Brothers" and the Problem of Generic Labelling', Romanticism, 6.2 (2000), 234-61

'Shelley’s "Foretaste of Heaven": Romantic Poetics and The Esdaile Notebook', The Wordsworth Circle, 31.3 (2000), 149-58

‘From Revolution to Romanticism: The Historical Context to 1800’, in A Companion to Romanticism, ed. Duncan Wu (Blackwell, 1998), 23-34


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

Public Engagement

In February 2017, I was Guest of Honour at the Birthday Celebration Luncheon of The Charles Lamb Society, and gave a lecture in the Swedenborg Hall in Bloomsbury on the subject ‘Charles Lamb and the Twilight Zone’.  

In January 2017, I delivered the ‘Immortal Memory’ address at the Annual Festival Dinner of The Burns Club of London, speaking about the history of the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’. As part of it, I organised a live performance by singers Isla Sinclair and George Staines, accompanied by my daughter Konstancja, a professional pianist. This included a ballad version of the song that has probably not been heard for 200 years.

In January 2016, my first public engagement after starting at Queen Mary was to give the ‘Immortal Memory’ address at the 2016 Burns Supper at The Caledonian Club.