Early Modern English Literature - Hugh Adlington

Early Modern English Literature – Hugh Adlington

My name's Hugh Adlington, I teach English
Literature in the Literature Department at the University of Birmingham. My research interests are predominantly in
Early Modern English Literature from 1500 to 1800. And within that I work on religious
poetry and prose. I publish quite widely on authors such as John Donne, John Milton, George
Herbert, Thomas Browne and others. But where I would say that my research is most focused
is on three key areas. One is on, I'm fascinated with the process of literary composition,
how did authors come through the various stages of writing their work – to use sources, combine
different materials from different traditions, to produce creatively what they came up with. So, I've written there on Donne's use of his
library, quite extensively, and I've also written on another author out of the early
modern period, in fact a modern 20th century novelist, Penelope Fitzgerald, looking at
her working papers in the archives to see how she composed her novels and biographies. The second area I'm really interested in is
literary reception. How, once those works were written, how were they read? By whom
and in what way? There, I've done work on Milton's reception particularly in the 18th
century, by classicists in the 19th century, by non-elite readers of various kinds and
I'm very interested in PhD supervision in working with students who are working on the
reception of canonical authors and non-canonical authors by groups who we don't usually think
of as readers of those particular writers. For example, I've supervised a student who
worked on contemporary or 21st century Egyptian Sunni Muslim readers of Milton, and so on. And the very last area that I'm really interested
in is literary history broadly conceived. And so my way into that is to work on genres
of literature that have been on a border line when we think about literary history and history.
For example, sermons of the 17th century form the kind of dark matter of literature in the
period in that they make up a vast proportion of the books that are sold and read by people
in that period but they are really little known to scholars and students of the period
who tend to focus on plays and poems and so on. And so by working on those sorts of genres
one comes to re-conceive of the literary history of the period.

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