Dr Jeremy Davies

Dr Jeremy Davies


I came to Leeds in 2011. 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 provisionally called ‘Experiments in Land and Society, 1793-1833.’ It's a history of Romantic-period schemes to change the physical environment, running from Pantisocracy to New Lanark via John Thelwall’s farm on the Wye, the Wordsworths’ gardens, a Yorkshire bird sanctuary, peatlands and a giant tidal estuary. The aim is to rethink what it means to do ‘Romantic ecocriticism.’

In 2016 I published The Birth of the Anthropocene (University of California Press), which examines a proposed new geological epoch - very new, by geological standards - distinctively influenced by human societies. 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 an occasional blog, Made Ground, and in some essays on geology, time, and lyric.

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 P. B. 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 the BARS First Book Prize.

I'm still very interested in Coleridge and in the Shelleys, and my other Romantic-period pursuits include the poets George Darley and Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and writings for and about the theatre.

I currently supervise three PhD students, working on Mont Blanc in Romantic culture; sleep and sleeplessness in Romantic poetry and phenomenology; and 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>


  • PhD University of London
  • MLitt University of Glasgow
  • MA University of Cambridge

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
<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://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>