Modern English Literature (18th - 20th Centuries)


Prof. Simon SWIFT

Professeur associé

+41(0)22 379 78 85


Office and Office Hour / Bureau et heure de réception


Originally from West Oxfordshire, I studied at the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and London, and went back to Leeds to teach for a decade, first as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in Critical and Cultural Theory. I took up my post of Associate Professor of Modern English Literature at Geneva in 2015.

I have a very broad range of research and teaching interests, including poetry from the Seventeenth Century to the present (with a special focus on Romantic poetry); theories of the lyric; the relationship between visual culture (especially painting and film), literary form and time, and especially the impact of Renaissance art on Romantic writing; the links between anthropology, philosophy and imaginative writing. With Prof. Arthur Bradley of Lancaster University, I am a founder member of the Northern Theory School and co-editor of the School’s book series, Futures of the Archive.  I am currently writing a book about touch, artifice and absorption in Romantic and post-Romantic poetry and visual culture, a study which will seek to attend to the structures of feeling that circulate around our current sense of political and ecological emergency, while also describing the ways in which art both embodies the pressures of that situation and models moments of reprieve or respite from its intensities.


I’ve supervised, or co-supervised eight PhD projects on topics ranging from gender and sexuality in the writings of Lord Byron to Elizabeth Bishop and baroque aesthetics. I have also supervised over twenty-five MA dissertations or mémoires; 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”. I’d be happy to hear from anyone interested in working with me at Geneva towards a PhD in the following fields: Romantic writing, the relation between the visual arts and poetry; 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, simplified Chinese and Arabic.

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

 "The Crisis of Enlightenment", in The Cambridge History of European Romantic Literature, ed. by Patrick Vincent (Forthcoming).

"Keats, Peterloo and Seriality", Peterloo at 200: Histories, Narratives, Representations, ed. Anna Anselmo and Marco Canani, The Keats-Shelley Review 35:2 (September 2021), 158-168.

"Wordsworth and the Poetry of Posture"ELH  85 (2018), 941-972.*

“even now,/ Ev’n now: Coleridge’s Interval”The Challenge of Change, SPELL36 (2018), ed. by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Hilpert, 143-160.*

"Frankenstein, roman familial", translated by Oran McKenzie, in David Spurr and Nicolas Ducimetière, eds, "Frankenstein": Crée des Ténèbres (Paris: Gallimard/ Fondation Martin Bodmer, 2016), 15-21.*

"Stoicism and Romantic Literature", in The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition, ed. By John Sellars (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), 303-318.

 "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), 357-376.*

"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 Formations71 (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

Timothy Michael, British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason (Johns Hopkins, 2016), The Keats-Shelley Journal 66 (2017), 173-174.

Ewan Jones, Coleridge and the Philosophy of Poetic Form (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 41:2 (May 2018).

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 (Fall 2005), 378-381.

Modern English Literature (18th - 20th Centuries)