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Professor Matthew Bevis

Professor of English Literature

Fellow in English


I completed my BA at the University of Bristol, before going on to study for an MPhil in European Romanticism at Glasgow and Bologna, and then for a PhD at Cambridge. I finished the thesis in 2000 and taught at Oxford before taking up lectureships at Sheffield (2001) and York (2005). I joined Keble in 2011. [My Faculty webpage is available here.]

Teaching Interests

I teach across the undergraduate syllabus, from the eighteenth century to the present. At graduate level, I have co-convened the MSt in English, 1660-1830 and I also teach on the 1800-1914 MSt. In the last 10 years or so, I have supervised, co-supervised, or examined PhD dissertations on a range of subjects, including: Byron and Epistolary Poetics; Joyce and Nonsense; Thom Gunn and The Occasions of Poetry; John Clare and the Poetics of Health; Milton After Eliot (Lowell, Empson, and Hill); Forms of Textual Excess in Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge and De Quincey; The Tiny, The Miniature, and The Small in Modern American Poetry (Dickinson, Moore, Bishop, Niedecker, and Kay Ryan).

Research Interests

My first book — The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (OUP, 2007) — considered relations between political oratory and literary craft. I've edited or co-edited various collections of essays — including Some Versions of Empson (OUP, 2007) and Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry (OUP, 2016) — and a few years back I wrote Comedy: A Very Short Introduction, which explored comedy both as a literary genre and as a range of non-literary impulses and events (pantomime, circus, stand-up acts, caricatures, and other funny business).

Much of my recent work has focused on poetry: 'Unknowing Lyric' came out in Poetry in March, and 'It Wants to Go to Bed With Us' was published in Harper's in June. 'In Search of Distraction' appeared in the November issue of Poetry, and the next issue of Raritan will contain my essay 'Poetry by Numbers'.

I've just finished a book entitled Wordsworth's Fun, and am currently working on two books: Knowing Edward Lear (for OUP) and On Wonder (for Harvard UP).

At Keble, I co-convene The Salutation and Cat Reading Group. I also convene the Poets at Keble series, and the seminar on The Poet's Essay with Adam Phillips.

I have appeared on Radio 3's The Essay programme, and I write for The London Review of Books and Harper's (essays on Edward Thomas, Treasure Island and its adaptations, cockneys and nineteenth-century London, William Hazlitt, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Bishop, Stevie Smith, Thomas De Quincey, John Ashbery, and Edward Lear). A sample of my recent work for the LRB — a short video-essay on Stevie Smith — is available here.


Books / Edited Collections / Editions

Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry, co-ed. with James Williams (Oxford UP, 2016), pp. 381

Crotchet Castle [for The Cambridge Edition of Thomas Love Peacock], co-ed. with Freya Johnston (Cambridge UP, 2016), pp. 328 + cxxi

The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, ed. (OUP, 2013; pbk 2016), pp. 912

Life Lessons In Byron (Pan Macmillan, 2013), pp. 120

Comedy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012), pp. 150

The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (Oxford UP, 2007; paperback 2010), pp. 302

Some Versions of Empson, ed. (Oxford UP, 2007), pp. 376

Lives of Victorian Literary Figures: Tennyson, ed. (Pickering & Chatto, 2003), pp. 504

Articles in Books

‘Introduction’ (co-written with James Williams), and ‘Falling for Edward Lear’, in Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry, co-ed. with James Williams (Oxford UP, 2016), 1-15 & 134-61

‘At Work With Victorian Poetry’, in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry (Oxford UP, 2013), 1-16

‘Dickens by the Clock’, in Dickens’s Style, ed. Daniel Tyler (Cambridge UP, 2013; paperback 2015), 46-72

‘Byron’s Feet’, in Meter Matters: Verse Cultures of The Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Jason Hall (Ohio UP, 2011), 78-104

‘Tennyson’s Humour’, in Tennyson Among the Poets: Bicentenary Essays, ed. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and Seamus Perry (Oxford UP, 2009), 231-58

‘Empson in the Round’, in Some Versions of Empson (Oxford UP, 2007), 1-20

‘Fighting Talk: Victorian War Poetry’, in The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, ed. by Tim Kendall (Oxford UP, 2007), 7-33

Articles in Journals, Essays, Reviews, etc.

'Unknowing Lyric', Poetry (March 2017), 575-89

‘The Funny Thing About Trees’, Raritan (Winter 2014), 86-116

‘Eliot Among the Comedians’, Literary Imagination, 16.2 (July 2014), 135-56

Edward Lear’s Lines of Flight’ [2012 British Academy Chatterton Lecture on poetry], Journal of The British Academy, 1 (2013), 31-69

‘Wordsworth’s Folly’, The Wordsworth Circle, 43.3 (Summer 2012), 146-51

‘Wordsworth at Play’, Essays in Criticism, 61.1 (January 2011), 54-78

‘Warring Claims: Victorian Poetry and Conflict’, Les Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, 66 (October 2007), 415-49

‘Joyce’s Love Letters’, in James Joyce Quarterly, 44.2 (2007), 354-57

‘William Empson’, 4000-word entry in The Literary Encyclopedia (2004)

‘Tennyson’s “Roses on the Terrace”: A New Manuscript’, Tennyson Research Bulletin, 8.2 (2003), 118-20

‘Volumes of Noise’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 31.2 (Autumn 2003), 577-91

‘Tennyson, Ireland, and “The Powers of Speech”’, Victorian Poetry, 39 (Fall 2001), 345-64

‘Dickens in Public’, Essays in Criticism, 51 (July 2001), 330-52

‘Temporizing Dickens’, Review of English Studies, 52 (May 2001), 171-91

‘Ruskin, Bright, and the Politics of Eloquence’, Nineteenth-Century Prose, 27.2 (Fall 2000), 177-90

‘Lecturing Ruskin’, Leeds Working Papers in Victorian Studies, 3 (2000), 122-36

‘Tennyson’s Civil Tongue’, Tennyson Research Bulletin, 7.3 (November 1999), 113-25

+ book reviews and review-essays in a range of magazines and journals, including The London Review of Books, Harper’s, Modernism/ModernityThe Byron JournalReview of English StudiesModern Language ReviewEssays in CriticismCambridge QuarterlyTennyson Research Bulletin, and British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and The Literary Review.

Review-articles for the London Review of Books, Harper's, and The Literary Review include:

'It Wants to Go to Bed with Us' [on John Ashbery], Harpers (June 2017), 78-84

'Supping on Horrors' [on Thomas De Quincey], Harpers's (October 2016), 85-93

‘What most I love I bite’ [on Stevie Smith] LRB (28 July 2016), 19-21

‘The lighthouse stares back’ [on Elizabeth Bishop] LRB (7 January 2016), 9-10

I can bite anything I want’ [on Lewis Carroll] LRB (16 July 2015), 17-20

'Damn the Respectable' [on Edward Thomas] Literary Review (May 2015)

‘It is still mañana’, [on Robert Frost] LRB (19 February 2015), 21-24

‘Metropolitan Miscreants’ [on nineteenth-century London] LRB 4 July 2013), 32-33

‘Kids Gone Rotten’ [on Treasure IslandLRB (25 October 2012), 26-28

‘Deleecious’ [on William Hazlitt] LRB (6 November 2008), 26-28

Academic Biography

  • University Lecturer and Fellow in English (2011 - present)
  • Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of York) (2005 - 2011)
  • Lecturer in English and American Literature (University of Sheffield) (2001 - 2005)

College Contact Details

Professor Matthew Bevis
Keble College
Telephone: 01865 272727
Fax: 01865 272705