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English and Creative Writing

Photo of Professor Nick Groom

Professor Nick Groom

MA (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Honorary Professor


My work investigates questions of authenticity and the emergence of national and regional identities, particularly in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This interest began in my first book, a study of the formation of the English ballad tradition (The Making of Percy's Reliques, Clarendon Press, 1999) and an edition of Thomas Percy's collection of ballads (Routledge/Thoemmes Press, 1996). At the same time I published a collection of essays on the poet Thomas Chatterton (Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, Macmillan, 1999), and used Chatterton as the central figure in a study of literary forgery and poetic inspiration, The Forger's Shadow (Picador, 2002; paperbacked 2003) - a book that also covered James Macpherson, William Henry Ireland, and Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. The Times Literary Supplement described The Forger's Shadow as ‘Refreshingly humanist and carefully researched ... the most entertaining, erudite and authoritative book on literary forgery to date.'

Following these predominantly literary critical studies, my work has become more emphatically interdisciplinary. Most recently, a cultural history of The Union Jack (Atlantic, 2006; paperbacked 2007), has examined expressions of British identities. The Union Jack was described by the Times Higher Education Supplement as ‘Vivid, fascinating and carefully researched history... robust, positive and wholly persuasive', and by the Guardian as ‘essential reading'. This work on national identity and culture has inspired further research into the relationship of culture variously with the past, with noise, and with the landscape. My study on the history of representations of the English environment was published in November 2013 as The Seasons: An Elegy for the Passing of the Year (Atlantic). It was the Book of the Week in the Guardian and a Book of the Year in the Observer, while in the Daily Mail Bel Mooney wrote that 'It's no exaggeration to say that this is a volume I have been waitng for all my life.... I love Nick Groom's passionate plea for us to be aware of traditional connections between human lives, the seasons and the natural world'. I am working on a follow-up monograph on issues of cultural environmentalism to be published in 2014/15, as well as a study of the international culture of British saints' days for Oxford University Press. In the meantime my acclaimed book The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction was published by OUP in 2012 as a part of a long-term project rethinking the Gothic past in political and historicist terms, and my anniversary edition of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto will be published later this year - also by OUP

More generally, I have also written extensively on literature and culture for both academic and popular audiences, including a book on the status of Shakespeare (Introducing Shakespeare, Icon, 2001), an anthology of crime in the eighteenth century (The Bloody Register, Routledge, 1999), and several essays on the singer-songwriter Nick Cave. I have frequently appeared on radio and television and am a regular reviewer for the Independent. I teach literature and culture from Shakespeare to the present day, and run option courses on The Gothic, and on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien.

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Recent Conference Papers (*keynote)

  1. ‘Catachthonic History: Historicizing the Archipelago.’ AARP Symposium, Willson Center, Georgia University, 10-14 April 2013
  2. ‘“Let’s discuss over country supper soon”: Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron – Rural Realities and Rustic Representations.’ The Rural Experience, Loughborough University, 26-28 March 2013
  3. ‘Draining the Irish Channel: Identity, Sustainability, and the Politics of Water.’ AARP Symposium: Over the Irish Sea, University College Dublin, 25-26 April 2012
  4. ‘Authenticity and the Archipelago: A Case of Highland Forgery’. Environment and Identity Conference, Pendennis Castle 20-21 July 2011 (and final roundtable panel member)
  5. ‘Archipelagic Ossian: Macpherson and Representations of the British Isles’. Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society Conference, Aberdeen 7-10 July 2011
  6. *‘“The Rain it Raineth Every Day”: Weather, National Identity, and Climate Change.’ English and Welsh Diaspora: Regional Voices, Disparate Voices, Remembered Lives, Loughborough University, 13-16 April 2011
  7. *‘Rough Music.’ Romantic Counter-Cultures, Swansea University, 14 December 2009
  8. ‘The Wrecke of Nature’: Chatterton’s Ecosystems’, BARS Roehampton 23-6 July 2009
  9. *‘Seasons of the Gothic: Cultural Meteorology, National Identity, and Climate Change.’ Gothic Locations, inaugural conference, Wales and West Gothic Network, Cardiff University, 19 September 2008
  10. *‘Seasons of Song.’ Place, Writing and Voice, University of Plymouth, 5-6 September 2008
  11. ‘Jug Jug.’ Romantic Animals, University of Exeter, 7 July 2008
  12. ‘“Executioner-Style”: Nick Cave and the Murder Ballad Tradition.’ Nick Cave International Conference, University of Westminster, 5 July 2008
  13. Invited speaker: ‘Unoriginal Genius: Plagiarism and the Construction of “Romantic Authorship”.’ Inspiration, Interpretation or Infringement? Interdisciplinary Approaches to Creativity and Copyright (Law Faculty), Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1 July 2008
  14. ‘What is the Future of the Union, Jack?’ Britishness, Identity and Citizenship, University of Huddersfield, 5-6 June 2008
  15.  ‘“With certain grand Cottleisms”: Southey and Cottle and the Making of Chatterton’s Works.’ Robert Southey and the Contexts of Romanticism, Keswick, 17-19 March 2008
  16. ‘Why Bother Editing Percy’s Reliques?’ The Voice of the People: The European Folk Revival, 1760-1914, University of Sheffield, 6-8 September 2007
17.‘Strange Music from Beyond the Wall of Sleep: Aeolian Harps, Seashells, and the Pagan Lyre.’ 36th Wordsworth Summer Conference, Grasmere, 30 July - 8 August, 2007. Plenary lecture, by invitation
  1. ‘Why Bother Annotating Percy’s Reliques?’ American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 38th Annual Meeting, Atlanta, 22-5 March 2007

Recent Seminar Papers

  1. Invited participant to two British Academy-funded workshops on forgery and authenticity at University of Sheffield (22 January 2010 and 28 January 2011)
  2. ‘Kubla Khan’s Automatic Harp: Ambient Noise in Late-18th Century & Romantic Poetry.’ University of Sheffield (11 February 2010)
  3. Invited participant to Fabian Society Policy Conference: The Equality Summit, TUC London (17 December 2008)
  4. Invited participant to Fabian Society seminar on citizenship, Labour Party Conference, Manchester Town Hall (22 September 2008)
  5. ‘The Poetic Cymbals of “Kubla Khan”.’ Keele University (7 May 2008)
  6. ‘Damsels, Dulcimers, and the Devil’s Lyre: The Milk of Paradise and the Music of Pandaemonium.’ George Jack Lecture, University of St Andrews (24 April, 2008)
  7. ‘What was that Abyssinian Maid playing at?’ University of Plymouth (16 April 2008)

Recent Public Talks

  1. ‘The Gothic.’ Telegraph Literary Festival, Dartington (14 July 2013)
  2. ‘From The Lizard to Middle-Earth: Tolkien in Cornwall.’ (14 May 2013)
  3. ‘The Gothic.’ The Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Oxford (24 March 2013)
  4. Roundtable panel at the Oxford English Faculty Tolkien Spring School (23 March 2013)
  5.  ‘The Gothic.’ Sunday Times Literary Festival, Oxford (22 March 2013)
  6. ‘The Invention of May Day.’ Du Maurier Festival (16 May 2012)
  7. St Piran’s Day school workshops, Truro Cathedral (5 March 2012)
  8. ‘Thomas Chatterton: The First “Green” Poet?’ Thomas Chatterton Society Annual Lecture (24 April 2010)
  9. Two talks at Du Maurier Festival 2010 (Tolkien in Cornwall, Sabine Baring-Gould)
  10. ‘“When the wind whistles cold on the moor in the night”: Sabine Baring-Gould and the Hunting of the Werewolf.’ Joint talk with Dr Joanne Parker: Du Maurier Literary Festival, Fowey (12 May 2009).
  11. Organized ‘Tolkien Day’, Tremough Campus (6 May 2009)
  12. ‘Serge-Making and Cowslips, Chimney Swallows and a Great Heap of Stones: South Zeal in the Eighteenth Century.’ South Tawton and District Local History Group (30 January 2009)
  13. ‘Is There A Dartmoor Literature?’ Forum chair, Festival of Dartmoor Literature (11 May 2008)
  14. ‘Who Cares About Britishness?’ Discussion with Vron Ware, Bath Literary Festival (2 March 2008)

The Atlantic Archipelagos Research Project, set up with a British Academy grant, is in association with the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway. As part of this project, I organised the conference ‘Archipelagic Perspectives on Tim Robinson: an AARP Case study’ in 2011.

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