Dr Jeremy Davies

Dr Jeremy Davies


I came to Leeds in 2011, after studying in Cambridge, Glasgow and London. I convene the Environmental Humanities research group, and with Richard De Ritter I co-organise the departmental seminar series in eighteenth-century and Romantic studies.

Research interests

I'm currently pursuing two sets of interests: environmental approaches to British Romantic writing, and theories of the 'Anthropocene.'

My main project at the moment is a cultural history of Romantic-period schemes to change the physical environment: a book with the working title ‘The Altered Landscape, 1793-1834.’ The book links literature and philosophy to experiences of agricultural reform, land reclamation, estate management, horticulture and industrial planning. It aims to define a new kind of ‘Romantic ecocriticism.’ I’m writing about a mixture of canonical writers (Coleridge, the Wordsworths, PB Shelley) and some less well known ones: if you’re currently doing research on William Madocks, William Roscoe or Charles Waterton, I’d be very pleased to hear from you. The project is supported by an AHRC early career fellowship.

In 2016 I published The Birth of the Anthropocene (University of California Press), one of the first books on that proposed new geological epoch. In it, I argue that the thought of the Anthropocene is a valuable one for green politics and environmental movements because it opens a window on to geological time, offering a way to locate the modern environmental catastrophe in the deep context of planetary history.

I'm continuing to write about the Anthropocene in some essays on geology, time, and lyric (plus a more or less defunct blog, Made Ground).

My first book was Bodily Pain in Romantic Literature (Routledge, 2014). It explores the history of physical pain in the decades before the development of surgical anaesthesia in 1846. The strangeness of the experience of pain - it's at once intimate and alien, both self-evident and inscrutable - made it intellectually productive for a number of Romantic-period writers, among them Jeremy Bentham, the Marquis de Sade, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and PB Shelley.  The book tries to show how pain could prompt new ways of thinking about ethics and identity. It was shortlisted for the University English prize for the year's best book in English studies by an early career scholar, and for the BARS First Book Prize.

I’m supervising, or have supervised, PhD students working on Mont Blanc in Romantic culture; on sleep and sleeplessness in Romantic poetry and phenomenology; and on Transcendentalism and ornithology. If you're thinking about doctoral study on a (broadly) Romantic-period topic, please feel free to get in touch.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

My main teaching interests are in Romantic-period and environmental literature at all levels, and in foundational teaching for students newly arrived at university.

Research groups and institutes

  • Environmental Humanities Research Group

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>