Location: Bowdoin / David Collings


David A. Collings

Professor of English

Contact Information


Massachusetts Hall - 206

Teaching this semester

ENGL 1009/GSWS 1009. The Ravages of Love

Examines examples of overwhelming love in eighteenth and nineteenth century novels from England, France, and Germany. Through close reading and intensive writing, considers the intersection of love with the difficulties created by class and gender difference; the power of desire to challenge social convention and the terms of ordinary reality; the confrontations between love, egotism, and seduction; and the implications of love’s attempt to dare all, even at the risk of death. Discusses the political overtones of these narratives of love and their place within the construction of gender, sexuality and subjectivity in Western culture. Authors may include Prevost, Goethe, Laclos, Hays, Austen, Bronte, and Flaubert.

ENGL 3031. The Ecstasy of Now: Lyrical Extravagance from Romanticism to the 20th Century

Advanced Seminar. Explores practices of unreserved lyricism in the poetic tradition extending from Romanticism through the twentieth century. Examines poetic attempts to capture an intensity of expression beyond what conventional notions of subjectivity, embodiment, temporality, and humanity can sustain. Considers how poems enact the invasion of human experience by more-than-human presences, the effects of absolute emotional expenditure, the evocation of nonverbal song within language, and the erotics of voice, while responding to cultural, historical, and political concerns. Explores poetry by Coleridge, Crane, Dickinson, Keats, Shelley, Stevens, and Yeats alongside critical and theoretical readings by such authors as Bataille, Eliade, Hartman, and Poizat.

David Collings


Ph. D., University of California, Riverside, 1987

Teaching Areas

English romanticism and British literature, 1780-1835; literary and cultural theory; English literature and social power; gay and lesbian studies; disaster; antirealist and/or uncanny literature.

Research Interests

English romanticism; the Gothic; secularization; the cultural consequences of anticipating climate change; queer theory; Lacanian cultural theory; the critique of economics.

Work in Progress

Disastrous Subjectivities: Romanticism, Catastrophe, and the Real.

Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change. Open Humanities Press and University of Michigan Library, 2014.Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change. Open Humanities Press and University of Michigan Library, 2014.
  Radio Ecoshock interview by Alex Smith

Monstrous Society: Reciprocity, Discipline, and the Political Uncanny, c. 1780-1848.  Bucknell University Press, 2009Monstrous Society: Reciprocity, Discipline, and the Political Uncanny, c. 1780-1848.  Bucknell University Press, 2009.

Wordsworthian Errancies: The Poetics of Cultural Dismemberment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

"The Force of Indirection: 'Tintern Abbey' in the History of Mood." In British Romanticism: Criticism and Debates, edited by Mark Canuel, Routledge, 2015, 409-417

"Emotion Without Content: Primary Affect and Pure Potentiality in Wordsworth," in Romanticism and the Emotions, edited by Joel Faflak and Richard Sha, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 171-191.

Romanticism and Disaster
.  Co-edited with Jacques Khalip.  Special issue of Romantic Circles Praxis, 2012.

After the Covenant: Romanticism, Secularization, and Disastrous TranscendenceEuropean Romantic Review 21 (2010): 345-61.

The Discipline of Death:  Knowledge and Power in An Essay on the Principle of Population.  European Romantic Review 18 (2007): 223-230.

Queer Romanticisms: Past, Present, and Future.  Co-edited with Michael O'Rourke.  Special issue of Romanticism on the Net.  No 36-37, 2004.
Full text »

Wordsworthian Errancies: The Poetics of Cultural Dismemberment"The Romance of the Impossible: William Godwin in the Empty Place of Reason".
ELH: English Literary History 70 (2003): 847-874.
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"On the Modest Tone of Recent Work in Romantic Studies." College Literature 28 (2001): 207-214.

Romantic Wars Cover"Bentham's Auto-Icon: Utilitarianism and the Evisceration of the Common Body."
Prose Studies 23 (2000): 95-127.

"The Harsh Delights of Political Duty: Thelwall, Coleridge, Wordsworth, 1795-1799." Romantic Wars: Studies in Conflict and Culture, 1793-1822. Edited by Philip Shaw. Pages 57-79. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000.

"Coleridge Beginning a Career: Desultory Authorship in 'Religious Musings.'" ELH: English Literary History 58 (1991): 167-193.