Professor Matthew Bevis
My first book, The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce, examined relations between political oratory and literary culture from Romanticism to Modernism. Comedy: A Very Short Introduction explored comedy as a literary genre and as a range of non-literary impulses and events (pantomime, circus, stand-up acts, caricatures, and other funny business). My most recent book, Wordsworth's Fun, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2019 (more information and reviews here).
Much of my work focuses on poetry: essays include 'Poetry by Numbers', 'Unknowing Lyric', 'In Search of Distraction', and 'Some Birds'. I'm currently completing two books: Then Again: Notes on Wonder (for Harvard University Press) and Knowing Edward Lear (for Oxford University Press). The latter builds on a volume I co-edited with James Williams, Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry and research for this project has involved partnerships with the BBC, Harvard, the Natural History Museum, and the Ashmolean. More information — along with podcasts, online exhibitions, talks, and other materials — can be found here. In Autumn 2022, I curated an exhibition at the IKON gallery: Edward Lear, Moment to Moment. Drawing on archival work in the US, the UK, and Europe, this was the first show to be devoted to Lear’s sketches and landscape drawings from across the whole range of his career. The initiative featured school visits, workshops, and collaborations with HMP Grendon, Birmingham’s SHOUT festival of Queer Art and Culture, and other community groups.
At Oxford I convene the Poets at Keble series, a seminar on The Poet's Essay with Adam Phillips, and The Salutation and Cat Reading Group with Erica McAlpine. I also run a monthly poetry reading group at HMP Grendon, Europe's only Therapeutic Community Prison.
I have written for The London Review of Books, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Raritan, Poetry, and other papers and journals. My essays for the LRB are available here; podcasts/interviews based on my work for Poetry are available here and here.
Future projects include a study of James Schuyler, and a book on modern lyric entitled Momentaneity.
I teach subjects and authors from the eighteenth century to the present.
Undergraduate: Paper 1 (Introduction to English Language and Literature); Nineteenth-Century Literature (1830-1910); Paper 5 (1760-1830), along with various special topics ('The Character of Comedy' and 'The Literary Essay') and dissertation supervision.
Graduate: MSt in English, 1700-1830, MSt in English, 1830-1914, MSt in English, 1900-Present
In the last 10 years or so, I have supervised / co-supervised / examined PhD dissertations on a range of subjects, including:
- Poetic Address in C. H. Sisson, W. S. Graham and Geoffrey Hill
- Byron and Epistolary Poetics
- Joyce and Nonsense
- Thom Gunn and The Occasions of Poetry
- Victorian War Poetry
- The Metrical Fingerprint in Twentieth-Century Poetry
- John Clare and the Poetics of Health
- Kipling and Yeats – A Comparative Biography
- 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, Bishop, Moore, Niedecker, and Kay Ryan)
- Resistances to Knowing in Victorian Poetry
Books / Edited Collections / Editions
Edward Lear: Moment to Moment, ed. and intro (Ikon, 2022), pp. 144
Wordsworth's Fun (Chicago University Press, 2019), pp. 303
Crotchet Castle [for The Cambridge Edition of Thomas Love Peacock], co-ed. with Freya Johnston (Cambridge UP, 2016), pp. 328 + cxxi
Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry, co-ed. with James Williams (Oxford UP, 2016), pp. 381
The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, ed. (OUP, 2013; pbk 2016), pp. 912
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
'Edward Lear's Moment', in Edward Lear: Moment to Moment (Ikon, 2022), 9-33
'Laughable Poetry', in Affect and Literature, ed. Alex Houen (Cambridge University Press, 2020), 222-48.
'Charles Lamb . . . Seriously', in Thinking Through Style: Non-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Michael Hurley and Marcus Waithe (Oxford UP, 2018), 35-54
‘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.
'Edward Lear's Happiness', Victorian Poetry, 58.2 (Summer 2020), 187-205
'Some Birds', Poetry (March 2020), 597-610
'Poetry by Numbers', Raritan, 37.2 (Fall 2017), 37-64
'In Search of Distraction', Poetry (November 2017), 171-94
'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, The New York Review of Books, and The Literary Review.
Selected review-articles / essays include:
‘Cool Vertigo‘ [on W. H. Auden], LRB (February 2023)
'The Man With Night Sweats' [on Thom Gunn], Harper's (March 2022)
'A Whack of Pies' [on Charlotte Mew], LRB (16 December 2021)
'On Charles Wright', LRB (1 April 2021)
'Giddy with Thinking' [on Kay Ryan], The New York Review of Books (Sept 2020)
'Faintly Risible, Obscurely Resonant' [on Wordsworth], Harper's (July 2020)
'On Rachael Allen', LRB (5 March 2020)
'On Douglas Crase', LRB (25 November 2019)
'Gravity's Smoothest Dream' [on A. R. Ammons], LRB (7 March 2019), 31-33
'Foiled by Pleasure' [on Elizabeth Barrett Browning], LRB (30 August 2018), 32-34
'Are you a tome?' [on Edward Lear], LRB (14 December 2017), 27-30
'Supping on Horrors' [on Thomas De Quincey], Harper's (October 2016), 85-93
‘Deleecious’ [on William Hazlitt] LRB (6 November 2008), 26-28