Dr Chris Townsend

Fellow Elect
Supervisor in English

I am a Fellow in English at Christ’s, working mainly on eighteenth-century and Romantic poetry. I completed my PhD, on George Berkeley’s influence on Romanticism, in 2017 at King’s College, Cambridge, where I also obtained my MPhil. Previous to that I was an undergraduate at the University of Exeter. I was, in 2018, the visiting Fleeman Fellow in the School of English, University of St Andrews, and was a visiting researcher at Durham University in 2019.

A monograph stemming from my doctoral studies — "Ghostly Language:  George Berkeley and Romanticism" — is currently under review at a university press. A second, shorter book on the Novocastrian poet Mark Akenside, entitled "Philosophic Connections: Akenside, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism", is under contract with Cambridge University Press. My current work on Romantic poetry concerns philosophic semblance — the ambiguous use of words like ‘seems’ and ‘appears’ in Romantic poetry, and the idea of poetry itself as a special kind of appearance.

I’ve written articles on Berkeley, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, and Christina Rossetti, and I’ve also published two articles on prose rhythm and narrative techniques in the novels of Virginia Woolf. All of my research interests respond to two lines of inquiry: the relation of philosophy to literature, and the fit between verse and prose forms.

At Christ’s I teach Part I, Paper 6, English Literature and its Contexts: 1660–1870, running the gamut from Dryden to Dickens. I also teach Practical Criticism and Critical Practice.