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


Professor of Romanticism | MA Eighteenth Century Literature and Romanticism Pathway Convenor



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 have also been a visiting lecturer at the College of William and Mary in the USA. I grew up in Nottingham and studied at the University of York as both an undergraduate and postgraduate. 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, and hope to increase postgraduate opportunities in this area. 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 recently served as Chair of the Council for College and University English (now University English). I am a Fellow of the English Association and a Member of its Board of Trustees. I am also currently Chair of the Common English Forum.


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

In 2017-18, I am teaching the following modules:

Postgraduate Teaching


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

I am currently researching the literary history of the ‘prospectus’, a type of printed advertisement widely used in the British book trade of the 18th and early 19th century which profoundly influenced the development of Romantic literature. This is part of my broader interest in literary forms and formats and in ideas about genre in the Romantic period and beyond.

My first book was on Shelley and the genre of romance and I have continued to publish on Shelley, particularly his neglected early poetry. In a subsequent book, Romanticism and the Uses of Genre (2009), awarded the ESSE Book Award for Literatures in the English Language, I explored a wide range of genres from the period 1760-1830, addressing such topics as generic primitivism and forgery; Enlightenment theory 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.

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), reflecting my on-going interest in ‘Four Nations’ 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 driving concern, too, of my projected history of bad poetry in English, a Coleridgean idea I hope to pursue at some point in the future. 

Another current project is a special issue, co-edited with Marc Porée, of the journal Litteraria Pragensia on ‘Wordsworth: The French Connection’. This originates in a symposium in Paris organised in 2017 as part of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. The volume will include a paper on mine on Wordsworth’s unpublished pamphlet A Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff, which I interpret in its Anglo-French context.

In addition to my own research, I have edited The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism (in press, forthcoming in 2018), a collection of 46 newly commissioned essays which present the latest research on a large variety of topics, including some previously unexplored areas. I am also currently editing The Oxford Anthology of Romanticism (expected in 2019), which will offer a significant remapping of the Romantic period and contain a wider range of primary texts and contextual material than is found in existing anthologies of Romanticism.



The Oxford Anthology of Romanticism, ed. (Oxford University Press, expected in 2019)

The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism, ed. (Oxford University Press, in press, 2018)

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

Scotland, Ireland, and the Romantic Aesthetic, co-ed. with Catherine Jones (Bucknell University Press, 2007)

Modern Genre Theory, ed. (Longman, 2000)

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

Articles and Book Chapters

‘The Prospectus War of the 1790s: Literary Advertising in an Age of Revolution’, in Eighteenth-Century Life (forthcoming in 2018). Special issue on ‘Literary Ephemera’, ed. Sandro Jung

‘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)

'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

PhD Supervision

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.

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