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Nick Dodd

LAHRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow (October 2021-September 2022)
Areas of expertise
British Romantic Literature; Phenomenology; 18th Century Philosophy
Clothworkers South Building
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute

My PhD thesis— Sleep and sleeplessness in Wordsworth's Poetry, 1796-1807: a phenomenological approach— challenged a canonical version of Wordsworth. I do not view Wordsworth as a poet of solitary, sovereign individuality who champions the transcendent imagination. Instead of this conception of Wordsworth as ‘awakist’ poet and subject, I argue for a more communal Wordsworth whose lyricism aligns a veneration of sleep with an appreciation of an interworld which brings together human and nonhuman creatures and things.

My PhD research investigated the phenomenological significance of sleep and sleeplessness in the poetry of Wordsworth’s ‘great decade.’ Sleep is important in my thesis as a physiological state with ontological and ethical implications.  Sleep constitutes a creaturely mode of being which necessitates recursive immersion in the recessive body. Sleep is also a mode of co-ontological equality. On the other hand, I understand insomnia as a state of ontological alienation. The ethical implications of the sleeper / watcher relationship are also an important concern in my discussion.

My immediate research goal is to publish a monograph based on my PhD thesis. The project requires further reading in interpretations of Enlightenment philosophical and medical culture, in theories of the lyric, and a closer consideration of the relationship between Wordsworth's and Coleridge's thought.

I am also developing various aspects of the thinking that informed my thesis. I have started to consolidate my new interests in conference presentations. The guest editors of next year’s De Quincey special issue of The Coleridge Bulletin — Brecht de Groote, Tim Fulford, and Matthew Sangster — have invited me to develop my lecture ‘De Quincey’s co-ontological sleep: Electra’s kindness as a way beyond “dog sleep” and nightmare’ for publication. And I am working on two other journal articles; one about Shelley’s ‘The Sensitive plant’ and circadian rhythms, and another about the relationship between mourning, and sleep and insomnia in Young’s Night Thoughts and in Wordsworth’s poetic responses to the death of his brother John.

Looking further ahead, I am seeking funding for an interdisciplinary project considering literary, philosophical and medical texts on ‘Sleep, Embarrassment, and the Involuntary Body in the Long Eighteenth Century’ which I am developing with Merrilees Roberts, author of Shelley’s Poetics of Reticence.

Forthcoming articles

2023                ‘De Quincey's co-ontological sleep: Electra's kindness as a way beyond “dog sleep” and nightmare’, The Coleridge Bulletin (De Quincey at 200 Special Issue, ed. by Brecht de Groote, Matthew Sangster, and Tim Fulford) (accepted).

2023                [Review of] Alexander Freer, Wordsworth’s Unremembered Pleasure in Romanticism (accepted).

Recent papers

2022                ‘Rereading Edward Young’s Night Thoughts: Wordsworth’s Elegiac Stanzas as an attempt to speak “the language of Man awake”’, BARS New Romanticisms, Edge Hill University

2022                ‘Shelley’s “The Sensitive Plant”: the poetics and politics of circadian rhythms’, Poetic Form and Biological Form BARS digital event, with Tom Marshall, Merrilees Roberts, Rowan Boyson, Sharon Ruston, and Richard C. Sha.

2022                ‘De Quincey's co-ontological sleep: Electra's kindness as a way beyond “dog sleep” and nightmare’, De Quincey’s Confessions at 200, Jerwood Centre, Grasmere


Nick Dodd, ‘Sleep and Prayer in “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere”’, The Coleridge Bulletin 47 (2016), 39–56

Nick Dodd, ‘Materiality, the Recessive Body and Wordsworth’s Sonnets “To Sleep”’, in Anticipatory Materialisms in Literature and Philosophy, 1790-1930, ed. by Jo Carruthers, Nour Dakkak, and Rebecca Spence (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)