Professor Joseph Phelan

Job: Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8265

E: JPhelan@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.dmu.ac.uk/soh

 

Personal profile

Professor Phelan graduated from King's College Cambridge, and obtained his MA and PhD at King's College London.  He has held posts at a number of UK universities, including a four-year Junior Research Fellowship at Christ Church Oxford.

His research focuses on the literature and culture of the nineteenth century. He is co-editor (with Professors John Woolford and Daniel Karlin) of the Longman Annotated English Poets series The Poems of Robert Browning, volume 4 of which appeared in 2012.  He is also the editor of the Journal of Browning Studies (formerly Browning Society Notes), an annual journal devoted to the lives and work of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Other publications include The Music of Verse: Metrical Experiment in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2012), The Nineteenth-Century Sonnet (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2005), which was named as an ‘Outstanding Academic Title’ by Choice magazine, and Clough: Selected Poems (Longman, 1995). Dr Phelan is a regular reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement.

Professor Phelan would be interested in supervising postgraduate work on most aspects of nineteenth-century poetry, and on Anglo-French and Anglo-Italian literary and cultural relations during the period.

Publications and outputs 

  • A.H. Clough, F.J. Child, and Mid-Victorian Chaucer
    A.H. Clough, F.J. Child, and Mid-Victorian Chaucer Phelan, J. P. This article examines the understanding of Chaucer's language and metre developed in the correspondence between Clough and the Harvard Professor Francis James Child, and places it in the context of changing Anglo-American literary and cultural relations during the mid-nineteenth century. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • “How came they here?” Longfellow’s “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport,” Slavery, and Proto-Zionism
    “How came they here?” Longfellow’s “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport,” Slavery, and Proto-Zionism Phelan, J. P. This article places Longfellow’s much-anthologised elegy in context, highlighting its engagement with contemporary debates about slavery, racial difference, and the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral homeland. The poem’s complex textual history, reconstructed here for the first time, helps to explain its profoundly ambivalent attitude towards the vanished Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island; their cemetery is both a monument to the shameful history of ‘Christian hate’ which drove them from Europe, and an emblem of the eventual fate of a people obsessed with the impossible dream of reviving the past and entangled in the ongoing horrors of slavery. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • TWO UNKNOWN BROWNING LETTERS TO HELENA FAUCIT, LADY MARTIN
    TWO UNKNOWN BROWNING LETTERS TO HELENA FAUCIT, LADY MARTIN Phelan, J. P. This article publishes two previously unknown letters by Robert Browning to his friend Helena Faucit, Lady Martin. The letters in question date from the period when Faucit was writing her book 'On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters' (1885), and Browning was at work on his volume entitled 'Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day' (1887). The article reconstructs the relationship between Browning and Faucit during this period, examines the composition history of both texts, and highlights hitherto unrecognised structural parallels between them. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. The article makes use of unpublished material in the National Library of Scotland. Copyright permission to use this material has been obtained from the NLS and also from the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, who still own the copyright in all unpublished Browning material in the UK.
  • A Source for Brownings Holy-Cross Day
    A Source for Brownings Holy-Cross Day Phelan, J. P. In a letter of 21 October 1886, Robert Browning suggested that his poem ‘Holy-Cross Day’ was inspired in part by the sight of a Hebrew inscription on a church near the Ghetto in Rome. This note identifies the church in question as San Gregorio a Ponte Quattro Capi and assesses the evidence for the reliability of Browning’s claim. It then goes on to examine the significance of the inscription (Isaiah 65:2-3), a fierce criticism of the Jews as a ‘rebellious people’, for the poem as a whole, drawing attention to the role of the Book of Isaiah as a site of contention between Christians and Jews and to the poem’s affinities to proto-Zionist currents of thought in early nineteenth-century Britain. The note concludes by suggesting that recognition of the role of the inscription in the history of the poem adds weight to Browning’s rejection of a ‘conversionist’ reading of the poem in a letter to his friend and supporter F.J. Furnivall. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Review of Leonee Ormond, ed., The Reception of Alfred Tennyson in Europe
    Review of Leonee Ormond, ed., The Reception of Alfred Tennyson in Europe Phelan, J. P. A review of an edited collection of essays on the reception of Tennyson's poetry in Europe.
  • Review of Lesley Higgins ed., The Review of Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, vol. 3: Diaries, Journals, and Notebooks, 13 May (Book Review)
    Review of Lesley Higgins ed., The Review of Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, vol. 3: Diaries, Journals, and Notebooks, 13 May (Book Review) Phelan, J. P. Review of a volume of the new Oxford University Press edition of the complete works of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
  • The Brownings' Correspondence, vol 23
    The Brownings' Correspondence, vol 23 Phelan, J. P.; Kelley, Philip; Lewis, Scott; Hagan, Edward; Williams, Rhian
  • Gary Schmidgall, Containing Multitudes: Walt Whitman and the British Literary Tradition (Book Review)
    Gary Schmidgall, Containing Multitudes: Walt Whitman and the British Literary Tradition (Book Review) Phelan, J. P. Review of a critical study of the influence of the British literary tradition on Whitman's poetry.
  • The Brownings' Correspondence, vol 22
    The Brownings' Correspondence, vol 22 Phelan, J. P.; Kelley, Philip; Lewis, Scott; Hagan, Edward; Williams, Rhian
  • Arthur Hugh Clough
    Arthur Hugh Clough Phelan, J. P.

Click here for a full listing of Joseph Phelan‘s publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Nineteenth-century literature, especially the poetry of Robert Browning and Arthur Hugh Clough; poetic form; Anglo-Italian and Anglo-French literary and cultural relations.

Areas of teaching

Victorian Literature, Romantic Literature, Poetry, Colonial and Postcolonial Writing

Qualifications

MA (Cantab.), MA (London), PhD (London)

Courses taught

ENGL 1010 Poetry and Society, ENGL 2021 Romantic and Victorian Literature

Honours and awards

Outstanding Academic Title 2006 for The Nineteenth-Century Sonnet: awarded by Choice Magazine (the journal of the American Libraries Association)

Membership of external committees

I am a member of the committee of the Browning Society.

Membership of professional associations and societies

Member, AHRC Peer Review College (Jan. 2010 – Jan. 2013).

Conference attendance

Nov. 2012 ‘Browning and His Contemporaries’: invited plenary lecture for conference to commemorate two-hundredth anniversary of Browning’s birth to be held at Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Texas (Nov 1-3).

Sept. 2012 ‘”Sonnets from the Italian”: Felicia Hemans and the English Sonnet’: invited talk for the Fondazione Michel de Montaigne, Bagni di Lucca, Italy.

Sept 2011:   ‘Arthur Hugh Clough and the Roman Republic of 1849’: invited talk for the Fondazione Michel de Montaigne, Bagni di Lucca, Italy (9 Sept).

July 2010 Poetic Apostasy: Southey’s A Vision of Judgment and Vincenzo Monti’s In Morte di Ugo Bass-Ville’, Robert Southey, Nottingham/Loughborough Universities.

June 2010 ‘Composition, Intention and Revision: The Choice of Copy-Text in the Longman Poems of Robert Browning. Works in Progress, DMU.

July 2008  ‘“The old couplet of the Skalds”: Alliteration in Longfellow’s Evangeline’, Metre Matters, Exeter University (Invited).

April 2008 ‘The DMU Survey of Undergraduate Attitudes to Postgraduate Study’, The Future of the M.A., English Subject Centre Conference held at DMU.

Feb. 2008 ‘“Here lies Browning”: Fragments and Fugitive Pieces in Volume 3 of the Longman Poems of Browning, Leicester University Victorian Studies Seminar series (Invited).

Other forms of public presentation

March 2012: ‘“Memorabilia”: Robert Browning and Literary Celebrity’: invited lecture for the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society (5 March).

May 2008 ‘Volume 3 of the Longman Poems of Browning’, Eton College (Invited; annual lecture to the Browning Society).

May 2008:  Participation in public ceremony to unveil a plaque to the Brownings in Bagni di Lucca, Italy: paper presented (in Italian): ‘“Il santuario nella foresta”: Bagni di Lucca e “By the Fire-Side”’.

Feb 2010:  ‘Clough and the Brownings’: paper given at a symposium to commemorate the unveiling of a blue plaque to Arthur Hugh Clough at Dr Williams’s Library, London.

Consultancy work

I have been consulted by external organisations (Disney Book Corporation, the BBC) about matters relating to the Brownings, and have advised individuals and commercial organisations (such as auction houses) on the authenticity of specific items of memorabilia.

Current research students

  • Gemma Palmer (1st supervisor)
  • Maija Kuharenoka (1st supervisor)
  • Susan Ibrahim (1st supervisor)
  • Lyndsey Worthington (2nd supervisor)

Externally funded research grants information

Co-Investigator, The Brownings’ Correspondence 1854-56.  AHRC Research Grant (£520000). Start date: September 2006. End date: August 2009. With Professor Peter Shillingsburg, Scott Lewis, and Wedgestone Press.

Internally funded research project information

June 2008: RITF £1000 to visit Morgan Library, New York in June 2008 in connection with preparation of Longman Browning: Selected Poems (publ. Feb. 2010).

January—June 2010: Faculty research leave to complete monograph, The Music of Verse: Metrical Experiment in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan for publication 2011).

Professional esteem indicators

Editor, Journal of Browning Studies (formerly Browning Society Notes): from 2007.

Other Reviewing Activities:

Valentine Cunningham, Victorian Poetry Now, TLS,
Marianne Van Remoortel, Lives of the Sonnet, TLS, 16 Dec. 2011
Julia Straub, A Victorian Muse, Victorian Studies 54.1 (Fall 2011)
Nigel Leask, Robert Burns and Pastoral, TLS, 17 Dec. 2010
Sandra Donaldson et al., The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, TLS, 14 July 2010
Robert Waldron, The Secret Dublin Diary of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 9 April 2010
Bruce Wathen, Sir Francis Drake: The Construction of a Hero, TLS, July 2009
Patrick Brantlinger, Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies, TLS, May 2009
Robert Crawford, The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography, TLS, 14 Jan 2009
Peter Swaab ed., Sara Coleridge, Collected Poems, TLS, 18 April 2008
Linda Kelly, Ireland’s Minstrel, TLS, 18 January 2008
Simon Dentith, Epic and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Literature and History, 17:1 (2008), 94-5

Case studies

I have been invited to speak at public events on Clough and Browning associated with the unveiling of public memorials to the poets in London and Italy, and participated in a public commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy in Bagni di Lucca in September 2011.

Joe Phelan

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