In Birmingham we produce leading scholarly editions that are used by students, scholars and readers worldwide to support and deepen their engagement with literature, and we analyse the contribution to meaning of the material forms (e.g. manuscripts, printed books) in which it has been presented to its readers at different times and in different contexts.
Our Centre builds on a Birmingham tradition of engagement with the textual forms of literature, and with the need to re-present literary works afresh in each generation, that reaches right back to the origins of the University. Edward Arber (1836–1912) was in the 1880s Professor of English at Mason College, which was the predecessor of Birmingham University. Driven by a passion for making reprints of earlier English literature available to a wide public, he made a crucial contribution to the literary life of his time. Ernest de Selincourt (1870–1943), who became Professor of English Literature in the University of Birmingham in 1908, produced in 1926 the pioneering edition of Wordsworth’s Prelude which established the now-familiar presentation of the 1805 text side-by-side with Wordsworth’s 1850 version, enabling readers to think in new ways about the differences between early and late texts. Both set innovative examples of how transformative and enabling texual work can be, and we are working today to develop that potential for readers and researchers in the twenty-first century.
The following selection of publications indicates some of the kinds of work that we have been doing recently:
- Hugh Adlington, ‘More Books from the Library of John Donne’, The Book Collector, 61.1 (Spring 2012): 55-64.
- R. J. Ellis and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harriet Wilson, Our Nig (New York, 2011).
- Nigel Harris, The Shorter Writings of Ulrich Putsch (Oxford, 2013)
- John Jowett, Sir Thomas More, the Arden Shakespeare (London, 2011)
- Tom Lockwood, ‘Donne, By Hand’ (The Chatterton Lecture on Poetry 2009), Proceedings of the British Academy, 167 (2011), 453-77.
- Kate Rumbold, ‘Shakespeare anthologized’, in Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts, ed. by Mark Thornton Burnett, Adrian Streete and Ramona Wray (Edinburgh, 2011)
- Valerie Rumbold, The Cambridge Edition of Jonathan Swift, Vol. II, Parodies, Hoaxes, Mock-Treatises: Bickerstaff Papers, Polite Conversation, Directions to Servants and other Works (Cambridge, 2013)
- Wendy Scase, The Vernon Manuscript: A Facsimile Edition of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet.a.1, Oxford, Bodleian Digital Texts 3 (Oxford, 2011).
- Aengus Ward, Sumario Analístico de la Historia Gothica, Papers of the Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar (London, / University of London, 2007)
- Martin Wiggins, A Woman Killed with Kindness and Other Plays (Oxford, 2008)
- Emily Wingfield, The Trojan Legend in Older Scots Literature (Woodbridge, forthcoming 2014).
- Gillian Wright, Producing Women’s Poetry, 1600-1730: Text and Paratext, Manuscript and Print (Cambridge, 2013).
For more details, see individual staff pages: