Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities

An interdisciplinary collaboration between the Faculties of Arts and Medicine & Health at the University of Leeds

Dr Jeremy Davies

Lecturer in English

+44(0) 113 343 4778


I work on British writing of the Romantic period, especially poetry – and in particular, PB Shelley. I’m interested in the history of philosophy and medicine in the long eighteenth century, and I’m becoming increasingly interested in ecocritical theory and the relationship between literature and the environment.

I joined Leeds in September 2011, after studying and teaching in Cambridge, Glasgow and London. I’m a lecturer in English here at Leeds, and a visiting fellow in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London, as part of the Birkbeck Pain Project. At Leeds I’m involved with the Creativity Project, and co-organise the Eighteenth-Century and Romantic seminar series.

My book Bodily Pain in Romantic Literature is forthcoming from Routledge. It explores the intellectual history of physical pain in the decades before the development of surgical anaesthesia in 1846. It deals with writers including Jeremy Bentham, the Marquis de Sade and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as with Shelley. The experience of physical pain, I argue, puts us in touch with our body’s very capacity to have feelings. Because of that, Romantic-period writers, influenced by earlier medical traditions, could use pain as a way of thinking about the nature of life and the formation of the self. The book is ultimately about how the Romantics reflected on the separateness or singularity of individual people.

My other interests include the poets Thomas Lovell Beddoes and George Darley, Romantic theatre (I reviewed work on Romantic-period drama for The Year’s Work in English Studies between 2008 and 2012), literature and science, and literary theory. Some articles available and forthcoming are listed below.


I mainly teach courses in Romantic and Victorian literature. In the first semester of 2012-13 I’m convening the compulsory first-year module ‘Prose: Reading and Interpretation’, the undergraduate option ‘Romantic Narratives’, and the MA option ‘Gothic Natures’. I’m teaching on the core MA module ‘Reading Victorian Literature’.

In the second semester I’ll be teaching on ‘Literature of the Romantic Period’ and convening ‘Sensation Novels of the 1860s’. I also supervise undergraduate and MA dissertations on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century topics. I’m the Attendance Tutor for level 1 students in the School.

Selected Publications

Bodily Pain in Romantic Literature (Routledge, forthcoming)

‘The Fire-Raisers: Bentham and Torture’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming 2012)

‘The Shelleys and the Art of Suffering’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 34:2 (2011), 267-280

‘The Distinction between Mental and Physical Pain’, delivered at Rhetorics of Pain: Historical Reflections, Birkbeck, University of London (May 2011)

(Co-ed. with an introduction) Nostalgia and the Shapes of History, special issue of Memory Studies, 3:3 (2010), containing…

‘Sustainable Nostalgia’, Memory Studies 3:3 (2010), 262-8

‘A Hundred Tongues: George Darley’s Stammer’, forthcoming in Disabling Romanticism: Romanticism, Disability Studies and Discourses of the Body and Mind, ed. Michael Bradshaw.

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