Dr Benjamin Colbert

Reader in English Literature

Ben Colbert
Email address: B.Colbert@wlv.ac.uk Phone number: 01902 323457 Location: MX103 Faculty: Faculty of Arts School/Institute: School of Humanities Areas of expertise: Romantic Period literature (1780-1840), travel writing, popular culture, and bibliography.


I was educated on both sides of the Atlantic, completing my MPhil in English Romantic Studies at Oxford University in 1987 and my DPhil at UCLA in 1996. I joined the University of Wolverhampton in 1994, and became Reader in English Literature and founding Co-Director of the Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research in 2010. I also serve on the editorial team for European Romantic Review (Routledge): from 2009 as Book Review Editor and from 2015 as Co-Editor.

At Wolverhampton, I teach undergraduate modules on poetry, eighteenth-century literature, and Romanticism, and contribute to the taught MA in English with modules on Byron, Popular Romanticism, and Research methods. I have supervised MA theses on Romantic women’s writing, paratextuality, and Coleridge, and am currently supervising PhD projects on mobility and space in women’s film; popular fiction; and deep ecology in 17th-20th century literature.

My own research focuses on Romantic Period literature (1780-1840), with an emphasis on travel writing, women’s writing, the Shelley circle, print culture, and bibliography. My book, Shelley’s Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision (Ashgate 2005), was the first to situate Shelley’s poetic practice within the rise of mass tourism, and my subsequent work has been at the forefront of recovering the cultural meanings of travel writing through bibliographical and contextual research.

I am currently leading a British-Academy-funded database project, British Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Communities of Authorship (2016-18), a pilot study for a full-scale database of all travel writings––women’s and men’s––in the period. Other recent projects include my collection, Travel Writing and Tourism in Britain and Ireland (Palgrave 2012), and a 4-volume set of Women’s Travel Writings in Post-Napoleonic France (2012), part of Pickering & Chatto's Chawton House Library Series.

I am interested in supervising PhDs on topics in any area of my research specialisms, particularly women’s travel writing and on cross-cultural literary relations more generally.

Research interests

My research interests are situated in Romantic Period studies, with an emphasis on travel writing and tourism, the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and print culture. My most recent work has been in the biographical/bibliographical recovery of forgotten travellers/travel writings, spearheaded by my British Academy funded project, Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Communities of Authorship (2016-18). This project is making available new archival research in the form of up-to-date and accurate short biographies of the authors found in the Women’s Travel Writing database. It is a pilot for a full database of all travel writings in the period that is set to provide firmer foundations for travel writing studies.

My work on Shelley has highlighted ways in which writers and artists responded to and incorporated travel writings into their own work, and I am particularly interested in the use of travel writing as a means of thinking about literary history, both in terms of the literary evaluations, references, and allusions included in many travel narratives, but also in the interpenetration between fiction, poetry, and travel narratives in the period (including such hybrid forms as the travel novel, pseudo-translations, and travel satire). Several of my publications also explore cross-cultural exchanges both within the United Kingdom and abroad, particularly through travel writing in translation as well as international publishing.

Membership of professional bodies

Editorial Boards and Executive Roles:

  • 2016-date Co-Editor, European Romantic Review (Routledge)
  • 2010-date Co-director, Centre for Transnational & Transcultural Research, University of Wolverhampton
  • 2009-2016 Book Review Editor, European Romantic Review (Routledge)
  • 2006-2010 Steering Committee (elected), International Society for Travel Writing (ISTW)
  • 2005-date Advisory Editorial Board, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780-1840, http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/

Academic Association Membership:

  • 2007-date British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA)
  • 1996-date British Association of Romantic Studies (BARS)
  • 1995-date Charles Lamb Society
  • 2003-date International Association for Travel Writing (ISTW)
  • 1996-date Keats-Shelley Association
  • 1989-date North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR)



  • 1996 DPhil, English, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • 1988 MPhil, English Romantic Studies, University of Oxford
  • 1983 BA Summa Cum Laude, with Honors in English, Tulane University, New Orleans, USA


  • 2016-date Senior Fellow, Higher Education Association (SFHEA)


Research Database:

Books and Scholarly Editions:

  • 2014. Foreign Correspondence, edited by Jan Borm and Benjamin Colbert (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press)
  • 2012. Travel Writing and Tourism in Britain and Ireland, edited by Benjamin Colbert (London: Palgrave-Macmillan)
  • 2012. France (1817) by Sidney Owenson (Lady Morgan), edited by Benjamin Colbert, Women’s Travel Writings in Post-Napoleonic France, vols 5-6 (London: Pickering & Chatto)
  • 2012. Paris and the Parisians (1836), by Frances Trollope, edited by Benjamin Colbert, Women’s Travel Writings in Post-Napoleonic France, vols 7-8 (London: Pickering & Chatto)
  • 2003. Collected Satires III: Complete Longer Satires, edited by Benjamin Colbert, British Satire 1785-1840, vol. 3 (London: Pickering & Chatto)
  • 2005. Shelley’s Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision (Aldershot: Ashgate)

Refereed Journal Articles:

  • 2017. ‘Romantic Palingenesis: or, History from the Ashes’, European Romantic Review, 28.3 (June).
  • 2017. ‘British Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Bibliographical Reflections’, Women’s Writing, 24.2, pp. 151-69.
  • 2016. ‘“Our observations should not be disunited”: Collaborative Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840’, Viatica, no. 3, n.pag.
  • 2007. Colbert, Rosie Miles, Francis Wilson, with Hilary Weeks, ‘Designing and Assessing Online Learning in English Literary Studies’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 6.1, pp. 74-89; repr. Online Learning, ed. Michael Thomas, 4 vols (London: Sage, 2011).
  • 2005. ‘Petrio-Pindarics: John Wolcot and the Romantics’, European Romantic Review, 16.3, pp. 311-328.
  • 2004. ‘Bibliography of British Travel Writing, 1780-1840: The European Tour, 1814-1818 (Excluding Britain and Ireland)’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, 13, n.pag. 
  • 2002. ‘Aesthetics of Enclosure: Agricultural Tourism and the Place of the Picturesque’, European Romantic Review, 13.1, pp. 23-34.
  • 2000. ‘“In Quest of a Sensation”: The Literature of Rhine Travel and the Rise of Mass Tourism’, The Journal of the Birmingham and Midlands Institute and Library, 1.2, pp. 5-11.
  • 1999. ‘Contemporary Notice of the Shelleys’ History of a Six Weeks’ Tour: Two New Early Reviews’. Keats-Shelley Journal, 48, pp. 22-29.

Book Chapters:

  • 2017. ‘Description in British Travel Writing: the Nineteenth-Century Wye Valley Tour’, Ashgate Research Companion to Travel Writing, edited by Tim Youngs and Alisdair Pettinger (Farnham: Ashgate).
  • 2014. ‘The Romantic Inter-Nation: Newspaper Aesthetics in John Scott’s Visit to Paris and Galignani’s Messenger’, Foreign Correspondence, edited by Jan Borm and Benjamin Colbert (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing), pp. 92-106.
  • 2013. ‘Shelley, Travel, and Tourism’, The Oxford Handbook of Shelley Studies, edited by Michael O’Neill and Tony Howe (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 594-608.
  • 2012. ‘Britain through Foreign Eyes: Early Nineteenth-Century Home Tourism in Translation’, Travel Writing and Tourism in Britain and Ireland, edited by Benjamin Colbert (London: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 68-84.
  • 2002. ‘Popular Romanticism?: Publishing, Readership and the Making of Literary History’, Authorship, Commerce, the Public: Scenes of Writing, 1750-1850, edited by E. J. Clery, Caroline Franklin, and Peter Garside (London: Palgrave), pp. 153-68.
  • 2002. ‘New Pictures of Paris: British Travellers’ Views of the French Metropolis, 1814-1816’, Seuils & Traverses: Enjeux de l’écriture du voyage, edited by Jean-Yves Le Disez and Jan Borm, 2 vols. (Brest: Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique, Université de Bretagne Occidentale), vol. 1, pp. 45-54.
  • 2000. ‘Romantic Entanglements: Ashbery and the Fragment’, Poetry and the Sense of Panic: Critical Essays on Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery, edited by Lionel Kelly (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi), pp. 41-51. 

Special Issues of Edited Journals:

  • 2012. Benjamin Colbert, Glyn Hambrook, and Pedro Javier Pardo, eds., ‘Xenographies’: Special Issue, Comparative Critical Studies, 9.2.
  • 2011. Benjamin Colbert, Pedro Javier Pardo, and Glyn Hambrook, eds., ‘Xenografías’: Special Issue. 1616: Anuario de Literatura Comparada, 1. 
  • 2007. Benjamin Colbert and Glyn Hambrook, eds., Literature Travels: Special Issue, Comparative Critical Studies, 4.2.


  • 2010. Benjamin Colbert, Rosie Miles, Francis Wilson, Hilary Weeks, et. al., Online Discussion in English Studies: A Good Practice Guide to Design, Moderation and Assessment, English Subject Centre Report Series No. 21 (London: HEA).

Commissioned Encyclopedia Articles:

  • 2012. ‘Travel Narrative’, The Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature, edited by Frederick Burwick, Nancy Goslee, and Diane Hoeveler, 3 vols. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell), vol. 3, pp. 1448-55.
  • 2003. ‘William Coxe’, ‘The Rhine’, Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia, edited by Jennifer Speake, 3 vols. (New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn), vol. 1, pp. 287-89; vol. 3, pp. 1006-08.


  • 2015. Review of The British Abroad since the Eighteenth Century, Volume 1: Travellers and Tourists, edited by Martin Farr and Xavier Guégan, Journal of Tourism History.
  • 2009. Review of The Unfamiliar Shelley, edited by Alan M. Weinberg and Timothy Webb, and The Reception of P. B. Shelley in Europe, edited by Susanne Schmidt and Michael Rossington, Keats-Shelley Review, 39.
  • 2009. Review of The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic & Victorian Britain, by Nicola J. Watson, Romantic Textualities, 19 (Winter), Web.
  • 2007. Review of Shelley and the Revolutionary Sublime, by Cian Duffy, The Byron Journal, 35.1, pp. 100-102.
  • 2007. Review of Travel Writing 1700-1830: An Anthology, edited by Elizabeth A. Bohls and Ian Duncan. Studies in Travel Writing, 11.1, pp. 95-97.
  • 2006. Review of Poetics of Self and Form in Keats and Shelley: Nietzschean Subjectivity and Genre, by Mark Sandy, BARS Bulletin and Review, no. 30, pp. 42-43.
  • 2006. Review of Semiologies of Travel: From Gautier to Baudrillard, by David Scott, Modern & Contemporary France, 24.2, pp. 260-61.
  • 2000. Review of Romantic Satire, by Steven E. Jones, Romanticism on the Net, 20, Web.

Invited Papers, Plenaries, and Keynotes:

  • 2016. Keynote. ‘Illusion, Immediacy, and the “Vehicle of Description” in Travel Writing and Travel Illustration’, Borders & Crossings, University of Kielce, Poland, 12-14 September.
  • 2016. Invited Panellist (British Association of Romanticism, Special Panel). ‘Romantic Palingenesis: or, History from Its Ashes’, NASSR2016: Romanticism and Its Discontents, University of California at Berkeley, USA, 11-14 August.
  • 2015. Invited Panellist. ‘British Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Communities of Authorship’, Special Panel: Romantic Travel Networks, BARS 2014: Romantic Imprints, Cardiff University, 16-19 July.
  • 2014. Keynote. ‘British Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Bibliographical Reflections’, New Horizons: Reassessing Women’s Travel Writing 1600-1900, Chawton House Library, 10-11 July.
  • 2010. Invited Panellist. NASSR Graduate Student Caucus Round Table on Journal Publishing. Romantic Mediations: North American Society for Romanticism Conference 2010, Vancouver, Canada, August.
  • 2009. Invited Paper. ‘“A feeling of Accuracy”: Visual Technologies and the Romantic View Book’, Romantic Visual Cultures, Cardiff University, 17 April.
  • 2008. Invited Paper (British Academy). ‘The Publication of Travel Writing in the Early 19th Century’, Transnational Histories of the Book: Europe 1800-1945, Funded by the British Academy, Centre for the History of the Book, University of Edinburgh, 3 October.
  • 2008. Invited Paper. ‘Britain through Foreign Eyes: Early Nineteenth-Century Home Tourism in Translation’, Travels in Britain 1700 to Present, Open University, Milton Keynes, 30 May.
  • 2007. Plenary Paper. ‘On the Trail: Readings and Reflections’, Round Table Discussion, with Professor Jeanne Dubino and Professor Dámaso López García, International Conference on Travel Literature: On the Trail / Congreso Internacional de Literature de Viagjes: Tras sus Huellas, 19-21 September.
  • 2007. Invited Paper. ‘‘From Domus to Polis: Mobile Identities in Robert Southey’s Letters from England (1807) and Blanco White’s Letters from Spain (1822)’, A Sense of Home, Laboratoire Suds d’Amériques, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 26 October.
  • 2005. Invited Paper. ‘“By the Miracle of Romance”: Tourism on the Rhine, 1780-1840’, Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Cardiff University, 8 March.
  • 2005. Invited Paper. ‘The Post-Napoleonic European Tour, 1814-1818: Reflections on Genre, Gender, and Publishing History’, Midlands Travel Writing Seminar, 12 February.
  • 2004. Invited Paper. ‘Petrio-Pindarics: John Wolcot and the Romantics’, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Colloquium in Honor of Professor Frederick Burwick, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, Los Angeles, 12 June.
  • 2003. Invited Panellist. ‘Close thy Eustace and Open thy Byron?: Tourism and the Place of Modernity in Shelley’s “Lines Written among the Euganean Hills”’, North American Society for the Study of Romanticism: Placing Romanticism: Sites, Borders, Forms, Fordham University, New York, 1-5 August.
  • 2000. Invited Panellist. ‘Aesthetics of Enclosure: Agricultural Tourism and the Place of the Picturesque’, North American Society for the Study of Romanticism: Romanticism and the Physical, University of Arizona, 14-17 September.
  • 2000. Invited Paper. ‘Tourism and Cultural Identity in Shelley’s Travel Letters’, Raman Selden Centre for Textual Theory, University of Sunderland, 7 June.

Experience in industry


  • 2014-date Blog Writer and Editor. ‘Transculture: the Blog of the Centre for Transnational & Transcultural Research’
  • 2011 Expert Interview. Marco Polo (‘Mystery Files’, Series 2). National Geographic Channels International, 7 June 2011.


I have refereed book proposals and manuscripts for Ashgate, Jagiellonian University Press, Palgrave-Macmillan, and Routledge; essay manuscripts for Eighteenth-Century Life, European Romantic Review; Keats-Shelley Journal, Romantic Textualities, Studies in Travel Writing, and Textus; and fellowship/grant proposals for the Bogliasko Foundation, British Academy/Leverhulme, English Subject Centre, Harry Ranson Centre Fellowship, Houghton Library Visiting Fellowship, Killam Research Fellowship (Canada), University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study and Frieiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (USIAS-FRIAS), Joint Fellowship Programme, and others.

External Examining:

  • 2009-2013 External Examiner, MA in English Studies, University of Sunderland

Further information

Funding Awards:

  • British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant: ‘British Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840: Communities of Authorship’ (2016-18)
  • British Academy, Visiting Scholars Award (2010)
  • English Subject Centre (JISC Distributed Project Grant): ‘Creating and Assessing Discussion Forums in English Studies’ (2005-07)
  • British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (2003)
  • AHRB Research Leave Award (2003)

Conference Organization:

  • Salvage: XIVth Triennial British Comparative Literature Association International Conference, University of Wolverhampton, July 2016.
  • Borders & Crossings/Seuils et Traverses: An International and Multidisciplinary Conference on Travel Writing, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, 11-13 September 2014.
  • On the Wane: Decadence and Decline in Literature and Culture, University of Wolverhampton, July 2012.
  • Xenographies II, SELGyC (Spanish Comparative Literature Association) and University of Wolverhampton, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, 8-10 September 2011.
  • Xenographies: The Representations of Foreigners in Literature, Travel Writing, and Other Discourses, sponsored by the British Comparative Literature Association, the Sociedad Española de Literatura General y Comparada and University of Wolverhampton. University of Wolverhampton, 16-18 September 2009.
  • Foreign Correspondence, University of Wolverhampton, Université de Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ), France, and Vilniaus Universitetas, Lithuania, University of Vilnius, 25-26 September 2008.
  • Transnational Identities II: A Sense of Home, University of Wolverhampton and Université de Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, UVSQ, France, 26 October 2007.
  • On the Trail / Viajeros y Literatura de Viajes: tras sus huellas, An International Bilingual Conference (English / Spanish), International Society for Travel Writing, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, 19-21 September 2007.
  • Transnational Identities I: Residence Abroad, University of Wolverhampton and Université de Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Wolverhampton, 4 May 2007.
  • English Subject Centre Day Conference: Creating and Assessing Online Discussion Forums in English Studies, University of Wolverhampton, 25 May 2006.
  • Literature Travels: Literature and Cross-Cultural Exchange / Littérature en voyage: Littérature et échange culturelle: A Bilingual International Conference, Sponsored by the British Comparative Literature Association, University of Wolverhampton, Telford Campus, 12-14 September 2005.
  • Romantic Postmodernism / Postmodern Romanticism: A British Association of Romantic Studies Day Conference, University of Wolverhampton, 17 May 1996.