Professor of English and Comparative Criticism
Matthew chairs the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation research centre (OCCT), which is based in St Anne’s.
Matthew studied at Cambridge and at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa; he held a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College Cambridge before coming to St Anne’s.
Undergraduate: Matthew teaches nineteenth-and twentieth century literature, and some aspects of the literary theory and the English language. This means that he tends to teach undergraduates quite a lot in their first year, and again in their final year for dissertations. He aims to enable students to explore literature for themselves and develop their own critical voices: he likes to offer a wide range of topics for them to choose from, including postcolonial and American writing as well as literature from the British Isles, and lesser-known as well as canonical authors. Matthew is especially interested in the complexity of language as literary writers use it: the literature that we call ‘English’ is always in interaction with other literatures and what we call ‘the English language’ is really a mixture of many languages and kinds of speech. Matthew enjoys seeing literature in the context of other media, especially visual arts.
Graduate: At Masters level Matthew mainly teaches on the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation, which arises from his research and which he convenes. His DPhil teaching covers a range of topics, often with a comparative or translational emphasis: eg epiphanies in English and Italian modernism; anglophone writing from Cyprus; Victorian verbal and visual nonsense; Robert Browning and B. Kojo Laing; translations of Proust; the Yellow Peril discourse; poetic prose in English and Italian modernism. Because of his role in the Oxford Comparative Criticism research centre, Matthew tends to see a lot of the graduate students involved in the OCCT Discussion Group.
Matthew is interested in how literature germinates between and crosses languages; in translation as a creative process, especially as it involves Italian, French, the classics and the many languages of English; in comparative and world literature; in visual art; in writing fiction. He is most at home in the 19th & 20th & 21st centuries but his work has ranged back as far as the early modern period. His current research develops the concept of Prismatic Translation, looking at the power of translation to multiply and regenerate texts in different times and places. There is a book, Prismatic Translation, and a website, Prismatic Jane Eyre: An Experiment in the Study of Translations, which offer interactive maps and visualisations of the phenomenon of Charlotte Brontë’s novel as it has been translated more than 500 times into more than 50 languages. Like much of Matthew’s recent work, this project involves collaboration with many people, and is housed in the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation research centre, which Matthew founded and chairs.
A few books:
Prismatic Translation. Legenda, 2019.
Babel: Adventures in Translation. Exhibition catalogue co-authored with Dennis
Duncan, Stephen Harrison and Katrin Kohl. Bodleian Library Publishing, 2018.
Minding Borders: Resilient Divisions in Literature, the Body and the Academy. Co
edited with Nicola Gardini, Adriana Jacobs, Ben Morgan and Mohamed-Salah Omri. Legenda, 2017.
Translation: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2016.
Comparative Criticism: Histories and Methods. Co-edited with Ben Morgan,
Mohamed-Salah Omri and Céline Sabiron. Special issue of Comparative Critical Studies, 12. 2, 2015.
The World Was All Before Them (a novel). Bloomsbury, 2013.
Likenesses: Translation, Illustration, Interpretation. Legenda, 2013.
The Poetry of Translation: From Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue. OUP, 2011; 2013.
Designs for a Happy Home: A Novel in Ten Interiors. Bloomsbury, 2009 (nominated
for the Author’s Club and Desmond Elliott prizes).
The Realms of Verse 1830-1870: English Poetry in a Time of Nation-Building. OUP, 2001; 2005.
Dante in English. Co-edited with Eric Griffiths. Penguin, 2005.