2010 ASECS Fellowship Awarded to Dr. James Woolley

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McMaster University Library is pleased to announce that it has awarded a visiting ASECS fellowship to Dr. James Woolley, Smith Professor of English at Lafayette College. ASECS (the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) sponsors and sustains research at 15 research centres and libraries in North America; the ASECS program at McMaster University is jointly funded by ASECS and the Faculty of Humanities. Dr. Woolley’s project is entitled “Toward a Full New Edition of Jonathan Swift’s Poems: Swift’s Texts and the Barry Brown Collection”.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), satirist, essayist and author of Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, and A Tale of a Tub, also wrote several hundred anonymous poems. Professor Woolley is co-editor with Stephen Karian of the four volumes of Swift’s poems for the Cambridge Swift critical edition (2008-). Professor Woolley’s scholarship concerns the authentication of Swift’s authorship of the poems, new attributions, de-attributions, discoveries of new manuscripts and printings, and an understanding of the transmission of texts and their historical context.

In establishing a reliable canon of Swift’ poems, Professor Woolley will also be using the Barry Brown collection. An omnivorous and discerning book collector, Brown amassed a large collection primarily of pre-1800 imprints of Anglo-Irish authors. Although some of Brown’s collection of choice Swift books was sold to the Huntington Library and elsewhere, McMaster University acquired many Swift editions from Brown’s library of 8,300 volumes in 1968.

In his application for the ASECS fellowship, Dr. Woolley points out: “There is much yet to be discovered about Swift’s poems: about the contexts to which they refer, about the economics of the publishing and distribution of his poetry, about the extent to which Swift cared about the appearance of his published work, about the connection between the London and the Dublin reception of Swift’s poems, and about the implications of the poems for Swift’s other writings.”