Modern English Literature (18th - 20th Centuries)

Prof. Simon SWIFT
Professeur associé
Phone : +41(0)22 379 78 85


Office and Office Hour / Bureau et heure de réception


Simon Swift studied at the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and London, and taught for ten years at the University of Leeds. He was appointed Associate Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Geneva in 2015.

He has a very broad range of research and teaching interests, including poetry from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century (with a special focus on Romantic poetry), the ideas of the Enlightenment, all aspects of visual culture (especially painting and film), critical theory and continental philosophy. He is a founder member of the Northern Theory School ( and co-editor of the School’s new book series, Futures of the Archive (  His work is currently focused on the understanding of “human life” in the Romantic period, especially in the poetry of William Wordsworth and John Keats.


Simon Swift has supervised, or co-supervised five PhD projects on topics ranging from gender and sexuality in the writings of Lord Byron to Elizabeth Bishop and baroque aesthetics. He has also supervised over twenty MA dissertations; topics have included “Spectral Haunting in De Quincey: The Relationship Between Body and Spirit in De Quincey’s Short Stories”; “Theories of Colour in Holocaust Representation”; “Jonathan Franzen and the New Social Novel”; “Home, Space and Place in the Novels of D.H. Lawrence and John Cowper Powys”. He would be extremely happy to hear from anyone interested in working with him at Geneva towards a PhD in the following fields: Romantic writing, the history of ideas and the reception of the Enlightenment in modernity; the links between anthropology and literary writing (ie in postcolonial thought, affect theory); critical approaches to the question of the human; the intersections of Twentieth-Century political thought and philosophy with modern literature (for example Hannah Arendt).


Books and Monographs / Livres et monographies

(editor) "Contours of Learning: On Spivak," Parallax 17:3 (Summer 2011).

Hannah Arendt (London and New York: Routledge, 2008). Translated into Korean, Japanese and simplified Chinese.

Romanticism, Literature and Philosophy: Expressive Rationality in Rousseau, Kant, Wollstonecraft and Contemporary Theory (London and New York: Continuum, 2006; paperback edition published 2008).

Articles and Chapters / articles et chapitres

Frankenstein’s Family Romance”, (forthcoming 2016).

“Stoicism and Romantic Literature”, in The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition, ed. by John Sellars (London: Routledge, 2015, forthcoming).

 "Mary Wollstonecraft's Religious Characters", in Called to Civil Existence: Mary Wollstonecraft's 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman', ed. by Enit K. Steiner (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014), 131-154.

 "Wordsworth and Charles Le Brun: Expression, Sensation, Colour", in Grasmere 2013: Selected Papers from the Wordsworth Summer Conference, ed. by Richard Gravil (Penrith: Humanities Ebooks, 2013), 50-62.

 "Wordsworth, Kant, Fanaticism and Humanity", in The Poetic Enlightenment: Poetry and Human Science in Eighteenth-Century Thought, ed. by Rowan Boyson and Tom Jones (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2013), 153-167.

"Hannah Arendt, Violence and Vitality", Theorizing Violence, ed. by Jane Kilby, The European Journal of Social Theory 16:2 (August, 2013), 357-576.

"New Mass Movements: Hannah Arendt, Literature and Politics", On the Move: Mobilities in English Language and Literature, ed. by Annette Kern-Stähler and David Britain, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature 27 (Tübingen: Narr, 2012), 39-52.

 "Romanticism and Unhappiness: Melancholy as a Romantic Legacy", in Legacies of Romanticism: Literature, Culture, Aesthetics, ed. by Carmen Casaliggi and Paul March-Russell (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 245-259.

"The Lesson of Gayatri Spivak", Parallax 17:3 (Summer 2011), 84-97.

Introduction to "Contours of Learning: On Spivak", Parallax 17:3 (Summer 2011), 1-3.

"Hannah Arendt's Tactlessness: Reading Eichmann in Jerusalem", Arendt After Modernity, ed. by Devorah Baum, Stephen Bygrave, and Stephen Morton, New Formations 71 (Spring 2011), 79-94.

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Reserve of Reason", Studies in Romanticism 45:1 (Spring 2006), 3-24, republished in Mary Wollstonecraft, ed. by Jane Moore (Farnham, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012).

"Kant, Herder, and the Question of Philosophical Anthropology", Textual Practice 19:2 (June 2005), 219-238.

Reviews / comptes rendus

Emma Peacocke, Romanticism and the Museum (Palgrave, 2015), Journal of British Studies 54:4 (October 2015), 1057-8.

Richard Adelman, Idleness, Contemplation and the Aesthetic 1750-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 38:2 (June 2015), 308-309.

Adam Potkay, Wordsworth’s Ethics (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), The Keats-Shelley Review 29:1 (April 2015), 60-62.

Rowan Boyson, Wordsworth and the Enlightenment Idea of Pleasure (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Romanticism 21:1 (April 2015), 103 -105.

Alexander Regier and Stefan H. Uhling, eds, Wordsworth's Poetic Theory: Knowledge, Language, Experience (Palgrave, 2009), BARS Bulletin (June 2011), 39-40.

Paul Hamilton, Metaromanticism: Aesthetics, Literature, Theory (University of Chicago Press, 2003), Southern Humanities Review 39:4 (Summer 2006), 288-291.

Ono Oerlemans, Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature (University of Toronto Press, 2003), Southern Humanities Review 39:3(Fall2005), 378-381.