Ian Duncan

Ian Duncan

Florence Green Bixby Chair in English
456 Wheeler Hall
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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) and Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (Princeton, 2007). Current research projects include a study of the novel and the science of man in Europe, from Buffon to Charles Darwin, and a book on Scotland and Romanticism.  He has taught courses on Scotland and Romanticism, nineteenth-century British fiction, Darwin and culture, Gothic, Walter Scott, the Romantic novel and Enlightenment anthropology, George Eliot and Victorian science, and opera and literary form, among other topics. Duncan is currently a Vice-President of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 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, and LMU Munich, and is currently (fall 2017) a visiting fellow at Princeton University's Humanities Council and English Department.



Title Fields
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....
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....
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.....

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)


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

“Altered States: Galt, Serial Fiction and the Romantic Miscellany,” John Galt: Observations and Conjec
tures on Literature, History, and Society, ed. Regina Hewitt. Bucknell UP (2012), pp. 53-71

"Late Scott," The Edinburgh Companion to Walter Scott, ed. Fiona Robertson. Edinburgh UP (2012), pp. 130-142.

"Death and the Author," Taking Liberties with the Author: Selected Essays from the English Institute, ed. Meredith L. McGill. English Institute / ACLS E-Books (2013).

“George Eliot and the Science of the Human.” A Companion to George Eliot, ed. Amanda Anderson and Harry Shaw. Blackwell-Wiley (2013)

"Human Habitats: The City and the Form of Man," Romantic Cityscapes, ed. Jens Martin Gurr and Berit Michel. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier (2013), 33-42

"George Eliot's Science Fiction," Denotatively, Technically, Literally, ed. Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt (special issue), Representations 125 (Winter 2014), 15-39

"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), 388-396


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

Current Research

I am completing a book with the provisional title The Form of the Novel and the Form of Man (under advance contract with Princeton University Press): a study of the novel's interactions with natural history and philosophical anthropology in Europe, from the late Enlightenment through the mid-Victorian era -- from Buffon's Natural History to Darwin's The Descent of Man, from Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship to George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. Chapters consider: 1.) Enlightenment philosophical anthropology (Buffon, Rousseau, Ferguson, Herder, Kant); 2.) The new Romantic genres of the Bildungsroman and the historical novel (Goethe, Staël, Scott); 3.) Lamarckian / Geoffroyan historical romances circa 1830 by Scott (Count Robert of Paris) and Hugo (Notre-Dame de Paris); 4.) Dickens's Romantic transformism in Bleak House (cf. Owen, Chambers) versus the anthropomorphic techniques of Victorian realism; 5.) "Species consciousness" and the science-fiction turn in major novels by George Eliot (The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda).

My other current work in progress is a book called Scotland and Romanticism, for Cambridge University Press. It willl offer a short, authoritative critical overview of Scotland's long Romantic century, from the 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, and the fanatic.

I am also thinking about a short book on Charles Darwin and the relations between scientific and aesthetic conceptions of form in nineteenth-century writing; and maybe another short book, on Scott's late career (1825-32).

Recent English Courses Taught

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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