Danny Karlin to give 2016 Clarendon Lectures

Danny Karlin at the site of Henry James’s house in Boston, MA, 2015.

Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English and founding Director of the Bristol Poetry Institute, will give the prestigious Clarendon Lectures at the University of Oxford this Michaelmas term.

Professor Danny Karlin will give the career-defining Clarendon Lectures at the University of Oxford later this term.

In delivering the Claredon Lectures, Danny Karlin will join a line of exemplary writers and critics to have received the honour. Previous Clarendon lecturers include, Frank Kermode, Stephen Greenblatt, Elaine Showalter, Christopher Ricks, Margaret Atwood, Stanley Fish and Quentin Skinner.

The subject of Danny Karlin’s Clarendon lectures will be ‘Street Songs’. The lectures will expatiate around the appearence of street songs and street singers in literary texts, such as Proust’s narrator hearing the cris de Paris in La Prisonniere, the one-legged sailor growling out ‘The Death of Nelson’ in Ulysses, or the old woman singing outside Regent’s Park tube station in Mrs Dalloway. The lectures will concentrate on how authors use street songs in their work.

Danny 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. His most recent monograph, The Figure of the Singer (2013), demonstrates the range of scholarship for which Professor Karlin is celebrated among his peers.

Textual scholarship is another major interest. With John Woolford and, latterly, Joe Phelan, Professor Karlin has edited four volumes of Browning’s poetry for the acclaimed Longman Annotated English Poets series, with a further volume in preparation; a substantial paperback selection appeared in 2010. 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, the first fully annotated Scholarly edition of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Most recently he published a selection of Kipling’s Stories and Poems for Oxford University Press (2016).

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). His edition of Henry James’s The Bostonians will shortly be available from Cambridge University Press.  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, Professor Karlin regularly publishes on British and American literature of the long nineteenth century, with a concentration, especially but not exclusively, on poetry.  Recent essays include, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’ and other poems of love and marriage’ and ‘Editing Poems in Letters’. During his career, Professor Karlin has made a point of engaging with research supervision across the gamut of English Literature from the Early Modern period onwards. In his time at Bristol he has supervised PhD projects on P. B. Shelley, Victorian poetry and fiction, and nineteenth-century American literature. His current research supervision includes a PhD on Bob Dylan by Craig Savage.


Further information

The 2016 Clarendon Lecture series will take place at the University of Oxford on the following days:

  • 8 November 2016
  • 10 November 2016
  • 15 November 2016
  • 17 November 2016

A full list of Danny Karlin’s publications can be found here.