The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities
Phone:
(023) 8059 3517
Email:
P.Middleton@soton.ac.uk

Professor Peter Middleton 

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Professor Peter Middleton is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton.

I came to Southampton after studying at Oxford, Sheffield and SUNY Buffalo.
My research interests include science and literature, modern and contemporary poetry, poetry performance, ecology and climate change, codes in new media, and creative non-fiction.

I have published books on science and poetry, gender, memory, and poetics, and edited with Nicky Marsh a book on the teaching of modernist poetry. Other writings include essays on modern and contemporary poetry, and a book of poems. Currently I am collecting published and unpublished essays on poetry in public culture, and writing a new book on the legacy of wartime code-breaking on current models of communication.

 I have supervised many PhDs to completion. Current student projects include ecopoetics, the self in contemporary poetry, gender transformations in creative writing, and astronomy and poetry. I welcome new projects on poetics, science and literature, and creative non-fiction.

Research

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Research interests

Research interests

My research interests include science and literature, modern and contemporary poetry, and autobiographical non-fiction.

Current Research Projects

Poetics of Authorship

This is a collection of essays on American poetry to be published by University of New Mexico Press. The poets will include Wallace Stevens, George Oppen, Robert Creeley, Frank O'Hara, Lyn Hejinian and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, appearing alongside such topics as poetry performance, and experimentation. The uniting themes are authorship, how it has been changing over the past eighty years, and reception, the role played by magazines, metropolitan avant-gardes, poetry readings and other distributive practices. Throughout the book, poetic form is treated as both aesthetic and a mode for choreographing social interaction.

Creative Nonfiction

I am working on a part memoir, part intellectual history of the legacy of wartime code-breaking that begins during the first world war, and then concentrates on Bletchley Park, and the shadowy influence of GCHQ and NSA. The idea that communication relies not only on code media but also requires decoding, became immensely influential after the second world war, and influenced fields as distant from each other as genetics, autism research, sociolinguistics, philosophy, postmodernism, and poetics. The book will argue that by combining insights from the history of cryptography with insights developed in the experiments of avant-garde poets, it is possible to gain new insights into such issues as the conflict over whether internet corporations are platforms or publishers, as well as the puzzles around missing authorship within internet anonymity.

Research project(s)

Medicine in History and Society

Initially of interest to physicians from the time of the Enlightenment onwards, the history of medicine has gradually gained the attention of historians, sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and other social science students.

Beyond the Gene

This project focuses on the shift in scientific understanding which is currently occurring, as research in epigenetics takes us beyond the powerful, gene-centric model that dominated science and culture in the twentieth-century.  We want to develop an accurate, informed picture of this transition, based on genuine dialogue between the sciences, the humanities and the wider public. We are bringing together leading researchers in biomedicine, literary studies, philosophy and creative writers to explore collaboratively the epigenetic cultures of the 21st century.

“’There is Opacity Now at the Bottom of the Mirror’”: The Aesthetics of Difficulty in the Long Poem,” Dibur Literary Journal 4 (April 2017). Online at http://arcade.stanford.edu/dibur

“Unknowns,” Chicago Review, forthcoming early 2018.

“Peter Gizzi’s Radical Irony,” in Anthony Caleshu ed., In the Air: Essays on the Poetry of Peter Gizzi (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, Dec 2017): 179-192.

“Poetry on the Moon: Buffalo 1977”, in Sean Pears ed., Buffalo Poetry and Poetics: A History of Innovative Writing (Lake Forest, IL: Lake Forest Press, 2018).

 

Recent work is online at:

Salt Magazine

Inspiration strikes

Babylon burning 9/11 five years on
(pdf. p27.)

Penn sound

Physics EnvyAuthor discusses new book about poetry and science during the Cold War

Poems on Blackbox Manifold

Articles

Books

Book Chapters

I convene a third-year module on modern science and literature, with the long title ‘Nuclear Explosions, Genetic Engineering, and Climate Change: How literature has held the sciences to account since 1945.’ We read a range of different genres including poetry, literary fiction, plays, science fiction, and memoirs. No special knowledge of science is required, just a curiosity about the impact of scientific discoveries and theories on the way we live now.

I also convene a second-year module on Modern American poetry, which looks at both new poets and some of the famous figures from the past eighty years. 

I supervise several PhD students, including Jenn Shaller who is writing short stories on trans gender themes, Nancy Jones who is researching the ecopoetics of the poet Maggie O’Sullivan, Mariam Al-Ghamdi who is working on the poetry of Jorie Graham, and Sophie Heuschling who is exploring connections between astronomy and poetry.

Professor Peter Middleton
Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number:65/2025

Telephone:(023) 8059 3517
Email:P.Middleton@soton.ac.uk

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