Professor Adam Smyth

Adam Smyth

Professor Adam Smyth

BA Oxf, MA PhD Reading
Professor of English Literature and the History of the Book, Clarendon University Lecturer, A.C. Bradley-J.C. Maxwell Fellow and Tutor in English Literature, and Tutor for Graduate Admissions
Academic subject(s): 

Core subject area: English literature.

Teaching: Papers on English literature from 1350 to 1660; graduate teaching in early modern literature, including the history of the book 1450-1650.

Research interests:

I work on the intersection between literary and material forms, primarily (but not exclusively) in terms of texts from 16th- and 17th-century England. I have written three monographs – Material Texts in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Autobiography in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2010); Profit and Delight: Printed Miscellanies in England, 1640-1682 (Wayne State University Press, 2004) – and I have edited or co-edited four collections: Book Parts, with Dennis Duncan, a collection of essays on the history of parts of a book (title-page, errata list, chapter heading, blurb, index, wrapper, running-head, etc.) (Oxford University Press 2019); A History of English Autobiography (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Book Destruction from the Medieval to the Contemporary (Palgrave 2014, with Gill Partington); and A Pleasing Sinne: Drink and Conviviality in Seventeenth-Century England (Boydell and Brewer, 2004). I also co-edited, with Juliet Fleming and William Sherman, a special edition of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2015) on ‘Renaissance Collage: Towards a New History of Reading’, exploring knives, scissors and glue as tools of reading. I’ve also published on Shakespeare and laughter; George Herbert and Little Gidding; authorship; William Strode; Ben Jonson’s creative practices; jokes; diaries; commonplace books and verse miscellanies; almanacs; reading practices; textual transmission; and satire. With Professor James Daybell, I am the co-editor of Routledge’s (formerly Ashgate’s) book series Material Readings in Early Modern Culture: the series currently has 23 titles.

In 2018 I received the Special Recognition Award at the Oxford University Student Union awards for teaching, for outstanding service to the undergraduate and graduate community.

Current and recent research projects include:

  • editing Pericles for Arden Shakespeare (4th series)
  • writing article on proof pages (with Markman Ellis of Queen Mary, London)
  • building an online database of printed waste in books, with Anna Reynolds (York) and Megan Heffernan (DePaul)

I enjoy thinking of creative ways of presenting my work. Recent and current creative projects include 13 March 1911, a collaged account of one day in history; a collaboration with Laurence Sterne’s Shandy Hall, as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow, on an exhibition on writing surfaces; a collaboration with artist Nicola Dale on an immersive installation that explores the experience of the archive. I am also a member of the 39 Steps Press printing collective.

I enjoy presenting my work both within the academy (recent talks include Yale, Johns Hopkins, Cambridge, Exeter, and UEA) and beyond: I write regularly for the Times Literary Supplement (search for examples here) and the London Review of Books (for example, Double Act’), and have appeared on TV and radio in the UK and abroad (for example, as a guest on Late Night Live). I host a series of podcasts on work on the history of the book currently going on here at Oxford University. With literary journalist James Kidd, I am the co-host of the literary podcast and radio show Litbits, described by the Guardian as one of the best three literary podcasts.

Departmental web page