New Winterstoke Chair in English
2 September 2010
Daniel Karlin, one of the world’s leading scholars of Victorian poetry, takes up the Winterstoke Chair in English at the University of Bristol at the start of the academic year.
Professor Karlin is known particularly for his work on the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. His first book, The Courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett (1985), brought about a decisive shift in the way the ‘myth’ of the two poets’ courtship was viewed, and is cited as a standard work in almost every subsequent biography and critical study. Browning’s Hatreds (1993) exemplifies his critical practice, based on the close reading of literary works, richly contextualised by reference to biography and to literary and linguistic history.
Textual scholarship is another major interest. With John Woolford and Joe Phelan, Professor Karlin has edited three volumes of Browning’s poetry for the prestigious Longman Annotated English Poets series, with further volumes in preparation; a substantial paperback selection appeared earlier this year. He has also edited a successful selection of Browning’s poems for Penguin. His knowledge of the wider field of Victorian poetry is evidenced in the Penguin Book of Victorian Verse (1997), which includes the work of 147 poets, many of whom had never been anthologised. Other editions include Kipling’s Jungle Books, Rider Haggard’s She, and, most recently, the first fully annotated Scholarly edition of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. With Samantha Matthews, he is currently editing Henry James’s The Bostonians.
Professor Karlin has a long-standing interest in American literature; he gave the Chatterton Lecture at the British Academy in 1987 on Walt Whitman’s Civil War poems, and has published on Bob Dylan (whom he has nominated for the Nobel Prize, and who he still thinks should get it). He is a fluent French speaker, and in 2005 published Proust’s English, an innovative study of Proust’s use of English words and phrases.
Besides his continuing work on the Browning edition, his current research includes a project on the ‘figure of the singer’ in English poetry; he is also planning collaborative projects on musical settings of nineteenth-century poems and on the use of French words and phrases in English literature.