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 textual work can be, and we are working today to develop that potential for readers and researchers in the twenty-first century.
Affiliated staff are currently at work on editions of John Donne, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swit, Alexander Pope, Samuel Richardson, Charles Lamb, Henry James, and Oscar Wilde.
The following selection of publications indicates some of the kinds of work that we have been doing recently:
- Hugh Adlington, ed., Sermons Preached at the Jacobean Courts, 1619-1625, Vol. 2 of The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, 16 vols, gen. ed., Peter McCullough (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)
- Louise Curran, Samuel Richardson and the Art of Letter-Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
- 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)
- Oliver Herford, The Prefaces, vol. 33 of The Complete Fiction of Henry James (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
- John Jowett, Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan, ed., The New Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford University Press, 2016)Tom Lockwood, ‘He spoke to Charles Lamb...’: Reading and Performance in Hazlitt’s Lectures Chiefly on the Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth’, The Hazlitt Review, 7 (2014), 31-46.
- Rebecca Mitchell, Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery, co-authored with Joseph Bristow (Yale, 2015)
- Kate Rumbold, Shakespeare and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Cultures of Quotation from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
- 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, ‘Afterlives of Medieval Manuscripts’, in Medieval Afterlives in Contemporary Culture, ed. Gail Ashton (Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 310-21.
- Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue, 10 vols. (Oxford University Press, 2012-18).
- Emily Wingfield, The Trojan Legend in Older Scots Literature (D.S. Brewer, 2014).
- Gillian Wright, Producing Women’s Poetry, 1600-1730: Text and Paratext, Manuscript and Print (Cambridge, 2013).
Individual staff pages