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Professor Peter Middleton 

Emeritus Professor

Professor Peter Middleton's photo

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 Currently I am collecting published and unpublished essays on poetry in public culture, and writing a new book on the legacy of wartime code-breaking on current models of communication.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.

I was the Leon Edel Visiting Professor of English at New York University (NYU) in the Fall semester, 2016.

I am on the editorial boards of Textual Practice, English, New Formations, and the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry.

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.

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“’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

“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

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
Student Office, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton. SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2025

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