School of English

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Image of Brean Hammond

Brean Hammond

Emeritus Professor (Modern English Literature),



I graduated M.A. (Edinburgh) in 1973 and D.Phil. (Oxon) in 1979. My academic life began at the University of Liverpool, where I was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, until 1990 when I was appointed to the Rendel Chair of English Literature at the University of Aberystwyth. Between 1995-2000, I was Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs and subsequently PVC for Academic Affairs at Aberystwyth, before accepting a Chair in Modern English LIterature at the University of Nottingham. I was Head of the School of English at Nottingham between 2004-7, and Director of Research, 2010-13.

Expertise Summary

Areas of expertise include 17th and 18th century literature; the early English novel; literature and politics in 18th century; modern drama.

I am a past President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and a former editor of the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies. I have served on the AHRC PG funding committee, and am a member of several editorial boards. I regularly review submissions for learned journals and for publishers.

I have served as an External Examiner in several UK Universities and have been involved in programme reviews and REF-related exercises in several HEIs.

Outreach and Engagement

As a member of the School of English I am engaged in outreach activities and community engagement.

I have appeared in Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time programme on Radio 4, discussing the epistolary novel. I have performed recently with the English Consort of Sackbutts and Cornetts, reading excerpts from the literature of Shakespeare's period. There is a short film about my research in Nottingham University's Research TV site.

My 2010 edition of Shakespeare's so-called 'lost play' Cardenio, published by Arden Shakespeare as Double Falsehood, raised immense media interest in 2010 and 2011. The RSC mounted a production in 2011 and the play has been produced in London and New York. A Google search on the title should uncover global newspaper and radio items on the play and on my editorial work.

Research Summary

For the past few years, I have been working on an edition of Lewis Theobald's Double Falsehood, a play that contains the 'DNA' of the lost Shakespeare and Fletcher play Cardenio, as I have argued.… read more

Current Research

For the past few years, I have been working on an edition of Lewis Theobald's Double Falsehood, a play that contains the 'DNA' of the lost Shakespeare and Fletcher play Cardenio, as I have argued. This work has taken me into many areas: textual editing, theatre history, authorship issues, Shakespeare's 'afterlives' - I have had to accumulate expertise both in eighteenth-century studies and in Renaissance drama. I have written two subsequent articles, published in Ritchie and Sabor's Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century and in Carnegie and Taylor's The Quest for Cardenio, following up the issues presented by Double Falsehood.

I have kept up my work on eighteenth-century studies and in particular on Jonathan Swift, producing in 2010 for the Irish Academic Press a controversial monograph arguing that Swift has to be understood as an Irish writer, at a point where 'Ireland' is a heavily contested identity, poised between nationhood and dominated regionality.

Consciously, I have been trying to extend my research range into areas of Romanticism, resulting in two recent essays on Byron, one making comparisons between Byron and Burns. The Centre for Cultural and Regional Studies housed in Nottingham's School of English has been a hospitable and valuable seminary for such work.

View my videos about 'Double Falsehood' and 'Shakespeare's Lost Play'.

Past Research

My major research contribution in recent years has been focused on the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744). On a broader canvas was Professional Imaginative Writing in England 1670-1740 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997). This was an an extended meditation on Foucault's famous question 'what is an author?', arguing that our modern conception of proprietary authorship developed during the period that came under the book's investigation. More recently, I have completed an edition of five plays by the dramatist and architect Sir John Vanbrugh for OUP World's Classics; and a book in the Writers and Their Work series called Pope Among the Satirists. In collaboration with Shaun Regan at Queen's, Belfast, I have written Making the Novel for Palgrave, a book that considers a wide range of early novels in the light of an approach that marries social history and cultural criticism, considering and critiquing several recent approaches to this elusive subject.

Of many recent articles, I would single out a piece published in English Literary History in 2006 that presents some new archival work on Addison, Vanbrugh, the writing of early opera and the politics of the first decade of the century; and one in the online journal Literature Compass published by Blackwell, that suggests that the study of coincidence in literature might form an entirely new subfield of literary/cultural research.

Future Research

Essays on professional poetry in the eighteenth century, on the influence of Cervantes on the development of the eighteenth-century novel and on Defoe and the picaresque should appear in 2013/14.

The next phase of my research is going to be concerned with the practices of eighteenth-century publishing and editing, and in particular with the publishing career of Robert Dodsley (1704-64). Son of the schoolmaster at the Mansfield Free School, Dodsley started life as an apprentice stocking-weaver and absconder from the family home who gained local employment and subsequently London employment as a footman. A very early definer of the tradition of labouring-class poetry, Dodsley found success with his A Muse in Livery, or, The Footman's Miscellany (1732). He branched out into writing for the theatre, his locally-based play The King and the Miller of Mansfield (1737) provoking a riot. It is not generally known that Dodsley's collection of aphorisms, The Oeconomy of Human Life (1750), was one of the best-selling books of the century; nor that it was Dodsley who suggested to Johnson that he should compile the celebrated Dictionary. His tragedy Cleone (1759), brusquely rejected by Garrick, was performed to vast acclaim at Covent Garden and was compared favourably to Shakespeare.

Dodsley's career took on a new dimension when he attracted the attention of Alexander Pope, who set him up as a bookseller-publisher at the sign of Tully's Head in Pall Mall, specialising in publishing Pope's own work. By the late 1730s and into the 1740s, Dodsley was the most significant publisher of serious poetry in the country, and was a celebrity by the early 1740s. By his editing and publishing as well as by his own writing, he defined new futures for what and how people would read. Already a pioneer in the publishing of pre-Shakespearean drama, Dodsley made his Tully's Head shop into the centre of modern poetry publishing: Shenstone, Akenside, Young and Gray, the foremost poets of the age, were promoted and published by him. Gray's famous 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' was first published by him in 1750. Commencing in 1748 with the publication of three volumes of A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, with volume 4 added in 1755 and two further volumes published in 1758, Dodsley constructed a lasting canon of English poetry. A publishing venture of extraordinary brilliance and taste, the six volumes document the changing face of poetry.

School of English

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