Philip West

Fellow & Tutor in Early Modern English Literature; Associate Professor of English

At Somerville I teach Renaissance English literature and Shakespeare to second and third year students, and the paper ‘An Introduction to Literary Studies’ to first years. I also greatly enjoy supervising finalists working on dissertations about early seventeenth-century poets such as John Donne, Ben Jonson, and George Herbert.

For the English Faculty at Oxford I give undergraduate lectures on a variety of seventeenth-century poets and writers. For graduates I teach a course in Renaissance palaeography and manuscript culture designed to assist MSt and DPhil students learning how to interpret early modern handwriting and to find & work with manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. I regularly supervise MSt dissertations, and welcome inquiries from DPhil applicants interested in early seventeenth-century poetry, manuscripts, devotional poets, and writing of the 1630s.

My research focuses on literature of the early seventeenth century, particularly the Caroline poets and the work of John Donne. I am currently completing a critical edition of James Shirley’s poems, and have published several articles and chapters about how Shirley’s writing was composed and circulated in the period. My edition will appear as a volume in The Complete Works of James Shirley, gen. eds. Eugene Giddens, Teresa Grant, and Barbara Ravelhofer, 10 vols (Oxford University Press). My previous work has focussed on the poetry of Henry Vaughan (1622-95) and on the work of poets he admired, including Ben Jonson and George Herbert. Alongside my Shirley edition I am also editing a volume of The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, gen. ed. Peter McCullough, 13 vols (Oxford University Press, 2013- ) containing the sermons Donne preached to select audiences at private houses.


‘The Drama of Shirley’s Poems’, in James Shirley and Early Modern Theatre, ed. by Barbara Ravelhofer (London: Routledge, 2016)

‘Epigrams and The Forest’, in The Oxford Handbook of Ben Jonson, ed. by Eugene Giddens (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming)

‘John Chatwin’s Translations of Henry Vaughan’, Scintilla: The Journal of the Vaughan Association, 18 (2015), 138-145

‘Editing James Shirley’s Poems’, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 52.1 (2012), 101-116

‘Little Gidding Religious Community’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2009 supplement)

‘Nathaniel Wanley and George Herbert: The Dis-Engaged and The Temple, Review of English Studies, 57 (2006), 337-58

Henry Vaughan’s ‘Silex Scintillans’: Scripture Uses (Oxford: OUP, 2001)

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