Ian Duncan

Ian Duncan

Florence Green Bixby Chair in English
456 Wheeler Hall
Fall 2018: Mondays 2-5 EXCEPT 10/01, 11/05, 12/03, when instead: Wed. 2-5

Professional Statement

Ian Duncan studied at King's College, Cambridge (B.A., 1977) and Yale University (Ph.D., 1989), and taught for several years in the Yale English department, before being appointed Barbara and Carlisle Moore Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Oregon in 1995. He came to Berkeley in 2001, and was appointed to the Florence Green Bixby Chair in English in 2011. He is a recipient (2017) of the university's Distinguished Teaching Award. Duncan is the author of Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel (Cambridge, 1992), Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (Princeton, 2007), and a new book, Human Forms: The Novel in the Age of Evolution (forthcoming in 2019). He is currently writing a short book on Scotland and Romanticism. Fields of research and teaching include the theory and history of the novel, British literature and culture of the long nineteenth century, Scottish literature, literature and the natural sciences, and literature and other storytelling media (opera, film). Duncan is a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a member of the editorial board of Representations, a General Editor of the Collected Works of James Hogg, and co-editor of a new book series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Romanticism. He has held visiting positions at the Universities of British Columbia and Konstanz, Boğaziçi University, LMU Munich, and (fall 2017) Princeton University.



Title Fields
Kidnapped Kidnapped
Set in the aftermath of the 1745 rebellion, Kidnapped transforms the Romantic historical novel into the modern thriller. Its heartstopping scenes of cross-country pursuit, distilled to a pure intensity in Stevenson’s prose, have become a staple of adventure stories from John Buchan to Alfred Hitchcock and Ian Fleming. Kidnapped remains as exhilarating today as when it was first published in 1886.....
The Edinburgh Companion to James Hogg The Edinburgh Companion to James Hogg
James Hogg (1770-1835) is increasingly recognised as a major Scottish author and one of the most original figures in European Romanticism. 16 essays written by international experts on Hogg draw on recent breakthroughs in research to illuminate the contexts and debates that helped to shape his writings. The book provides an indispensable guide to Hogg's life and worlds, his publishing history, re....
Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh
Scott's Shadow is the first comprehensive account of the flowering of Scottish fiction between 1802 and 1832, when post-Enlightenment Edinburgh rivaled London as a center for literary and cultural innovation. Ian Duncan shows how Walter Scott became the central figure in these developments, and how he helped redefine the novel as the principal modern genre for the representation of national histo....
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
'We have heard much of the rage of fanaticism in former days, but nothing to this' A wretched young man, 'an outcast in the world', tells the story of his upbringing by a heretical Calvinist minister who leads him to believe that he is one of the elect, predestined for salvation and thus above the moral law. Falling under the spell of a mysterious stranger who bears an uncanny likeness to himsel....

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered


Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; paperback, 2005

Scott’s Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007; paperback, 2016

(Saltire Society / National Library of Scotland Research Book of the Year Award, 2008)

Human Forms: The Novel in the Age of Evolution. Princeton University Press (forthcoming, 2019)


Edited collections

"Scott, Scotland and Romantic Nationalism": special issue of Studies in Romanticism (40:1, Spring 2001). Co-edited with Ann Rowland and Charles Snodgrass.

Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism. Co-edited with Leith Davis and Janet Sorensen. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Approaches to Teaching Scott’s Waverley Novels. Co-edited with Evan Gottlieb. Modern Language Association, 2009

The Edinburgh Companion to James Hogg. Co-edited with Douglas Mack. Edinburgh University Press, 2012  



Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World. Oxford University Press, 1995, 1998. 

Walter Scott, Ivanhoe. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Walter Scott, Rob Roy. Oxford University Press, 1998.

James Hogg, Winter Evening Tales: Collected among the Cottagers in the South of Scotland. Edinburgh University Press, 2002; 2004.  

Travel Writing 1700-1830: An Anthology. Co-edited with Elizabeth Bohls. Oxford University Press, 2005.

James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped. Oxford University Press, 2014

Selected recent essays

"Walter Scott and the Historical Novel," The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 2, English and British Fiction 1750-1820, ed. Peter Garside and Karen O'Brien. Oxford University Press (2015), 312-331.

"Spawn of Ossian," Global Romanticism: Origins, Orientations and Engagements 1760-1820, ed. Evan Gottlieb. Bucknell University Press (2015), 3-18

“Kant, Herder and the Anthropological Turn,” Romanticism and Knowledge, ed. Stefanie Fricke, Felicitas Menhard and Katharina Pink (Trier, 2015), 63-71

"The Nineteenth Century" (with Sheila Kidd), The International Companion to Scottish Poetry, ed. Carla Sassi (Scottish Literature International, 2016), 64-73

“Literature: Historicism and Organic Form in Nineteenth-Century Fiction,” Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain, ed. Mark Bevir. Cambridge University Press (2017), 105-127

Bildung versus Roman: Germaine de Staël’s Corinne,” Narratives of Romanticism, ed. Sandra Heinen and Katharina Rennhak (Trier, 2017), 17-25

The Lost World’s Other Nature,”  Arthur Conan Doyle’s Science Fiction, ed. Tom Ue. Manchester University Press (forthcoming)

Aesthetics and Form in Charles Darwin’s Writings,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of English Literature, ed. Paula Rabinowitz. OUP online

"History and the Novel after Lukács." Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 50: 3 (2017), 388-96.

“The Bildungsroman, the Romantic Nation, and the Marriage Plot,” Replotting Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Literature, ed. Jill Galvan and Elsie Michie (Ohio State University Press, 2018), 15-34

“The Uses of Anachronism.” Twenty-First Century Walter Scott, ed. Caroline McCracken-Flesher and Matthew Wickman. (Edinburgh University Press, under review)

“Natural Histories of Form: Darwin’s Aesthetic Science.” New Directions for Darwin and Literature, ed. Devin Griffiths and Jonathan Smith (under review)


Recent talks and lectures:

"Human Time: After Buffon" (paper) and "Literary Science" (roundtable), MLA Convention, Vancouver, Jan. 2015

"After Natural Man: Buffon, Rousseau, Kant, Herder": The Biological Turn in Literary Studies. Symposium, Duke University, Feb. 2015

"Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: Enlightenment Anthropology and the Romantic Historical Novel." Giorgio Melchiori Lecture, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, March 2015

Bildung of Humanity: Anthropology, Irony, and the Romantic Novel.” 21st annual Vincent A. De Luca Lecture in Nineteenth-Century Studies, University of Toronto, April 2015

"Bad Hogg." James Hogg Society Conference, Hogg and his World, Toronto, April 2015

"George Eliot and Species Consciousness." Séminaire "Politique, Culture, Société, XIXe-XXIe siècles: Littérature et Sciences humaines," Aix-Marseille Université, November 2015

"Realism's Human Forms." Berkeley Lecture, Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, LMU Munich, December 2015

"Dickens, Transformist." Indiana University, January 2016

"Charles Dickens, Transformist: Popular Science, Romantic Poetry, and the Victorian Novel"; "Infinity or Totality: The Romantic Bildungsroman and the Theory of the Novel." Barbara L. Packer Lectures, UCLA, April 2016

“The Anthropology of Form in Schiller and Darwin.” Anthropology and Literature Forum, MLA, Philadelphia, Jan. 2017

"The Prose of the World, or, The Romantic Side of Familiar Things: Realism, Lyric, and Totality in Bleak House." Boston Area Romanticism Colloquium, Boston University, April 2017

"Dickens's Teratology: The Natural History of Bleak House." Victorian Colloquium, Princeton University, April 2017

"Don Giovanni, or, the last aristocrat": University of Genoa, May 2017; GER Conference, The Politics of Romanticism, Univ. of Bamberg, Oct. 2017

"'The side o' human nature': Hogg's Anthropology": James Hogg Society, Locating James Hogg, Stirling University, July 2017

"Natural Histories of Form: From Aesthetic Education to Sexual Selection." Keynote lecture, Victorian Form and Reform conference, UC Santa Cruz, August 2017

Roundtable: "Desire and Domestic Fiction after Thirty Years," MLA, New York, Jan. 2018

France-Berkeley Colloquium in Victorian Studies: Form across the Disciplines, Co-organizer with Nathalie Vanfasse, Aix-Marseille University, 2017-19

Roundtable: 1819 in 2019, Byron Society of North America. MLA, Chicago, Jan. 2019

“The Romantic Novel and the Natural History of Man: Goethe, Staël, Scott.” London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, Queen Mary University of London, Jan. 2019

Keynote lecture, The 1820s: Innovation and Diffusion. University of Glasgow, April 2019

"The Biological Exception: Hugo, Dickens, Teratology." Victorian Studies Workshop: Société des Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur Annual Congress, Aix-Marseille University, June 2019

Keynote lecture, “The Birth of the Fanatic”: GER/International Byron Studies Conference, Transgressive Romanticism, University of Vechta, September 2019

Current Research

My new book Human Forms: The Novel in the Age of Evolution has gone to press and should be appearing next fall (2019).  A major rethinking of the history of the novel as well as the cultural impact of evolutionary science before Darwin, Human Forms is the first book-length critical study of the interaction of European fiction with natural history and philosophical anthropology from the late Enlightenment through the mid-Victorian era, when the ascendancy of realism coincided with the rise of evolutionary theory. Novelists claimed human nature as the scientific basis of their art at the same time that the human species became the subject of the new natural history and an organic transmutation of forms and kinds. A supposed aesthetic disability, lack of form, now equipped the novel to model the modern scientific conception of a developmental – mutable rather than fixed – human nature. The principle of development, invoked at first as a uniquely human property, subverted the exception it was meant to save once evolutionary science applied it to the whole of nature. The novel became the major experimental instrument for managing the new set of divisions – between nature and history, individual and species, Bildung and biological life – that replaced the ancient schism between animal body and immortal soul.

Chapters consider the rise of Enlightenment philosophical anthropology; the new Romantic genres of the Bildungsroman and the historical novel; the investment of historical romance with Lamarckian evolutionism; Dickens’s transformist aesthetic and its challenge to the anthropomorphic techniques of Victorian realism; high realism, “species consciousness,” and the science-fiction turn in major novels by George Eliot.

My current work in progress is a short book, Scotland and Romanticism, for Cambridge University Press. It will offer a critical overview of Scotland's long Romantic century, from Enlightenment projects of the human sciences and revivals of indigenous poetry to Scott's late novels and Carlyle's French Revolution. Part I explores the genres and institutions of Scottish Enlightenment and Romantic-period writing; Part II examines a series of case studies according to representative topoi: the lost nation, popular festivity, world literature, the fanatic.

Recent English Courses Taught

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
45B/1 Literature in English: Late-17th Through Mid-19th Centuries Introductory Surveys
British 18th-Century
British 19th-Century
American Literature
45B/101 -- discussion section No instructor assigned yet.
166/1 Special Topics: Gothic British 18th-Century
British 19th-Century
American Literature
Special Topics
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/4 Research Seminar: Evolution and Literary Form, 1800-1900 British 19th-Century
Research Seminars
Graduate Courses
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
45B/1 Literature in English: Mid-17th to Late-19th Century Introductory Surveys
45B/101 -- discussion section Barbour, Andrew John
45B/102 -- discussion section Forbes-Macphail, Imogen
45B/103 -- discussion section D'Silva, Eliot
45B/104 -- discussion section Terlaak Poot, Luke
246H/1 Graduate Pro-seminar: Victorian Period Graduate Courses
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
170/2 Literature and the Arts: Opera and Literary Form World Literature
Special Topics
Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
45B/1 Literature in English: Late-17th through Mid-19th Centuries Introductory Surveys
45B/101 -- discussion section de Stefano, Jason
45B/102 -- discussion section Wise, Diana Catherine
45B/103 -- discussion section Sirianni, Lucy
203/1 Graduate Readings: George Eliot and Victorian Science British 19th-Century
Graduate Courses

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