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Professor Stephen Matterson
Professor, English


Stephen Matterson took his BA in English and History at Sunderland Polytechnic was awarded a PhD through the CNAA, with supervision from Raman Selden and Gareth Reeves atthe University of Durham. He taught at Sunderland and at the University of Minnesota before taking up a post at Trinity College, Dublin in 1986. He was elected Fellow in 1998 and was made a Senior Lecturer in 1998. He was the Head of the Department of English 2003-6, and with the inauguration of the School of English he is currently head of School. A specialist in American literature, he has published work on a wide range of American writers, notably Melville, Stevens, Lowell and Berryman, and has a special interest in race and literature and in the literature of the American South. He has also written extensively on poetry, and has co-edited a collection of essays on The American Poetry Book. He has been very involved in the Irish and the European Associations of American Studies, and was the joint founding editor of the Journal of the Irish Association of American Studies. He has successfully supervised many M.Litt and PhD theses in several areas and particularly on modern American poetry.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Stephen Matterson, Neal Alexander. Late Modernism and the Poetics of Place, The Review of English Studies, 74, (313), 2022, p197 - 199 Journal Article, 2022

Stephen Mattersom, They Came, and I Wrote Them: Paul Auster and Stephen Crane, Poetry Magazine (Online), 2021, p1 - 6 Journal Article, 2021

'Changing the Story': Popular Fiction Today in, editor(s)Bernice M. Murphy and Stephen Matterson , Twenty-First Century Popular Fiction, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2018, pp1 - 9, [Bernice M. Murphy and Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2018

Not Allowed to be Bored: John Berryman's Lexicon of Boredom in, editor(s)Philip Coleman and Peter Campion , John Berryman Centenary Essays, Oxford, Peter Lang, 2017, pp215 - 230, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2017 URL

'Whims & emergencies, discoveries, losses': The Poetry of John Berryman in, editor(s)Eleanor Spencer , American Poetry since 1945, London and New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp25 - 39, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2017 URL

Stephen Matterson, 'But why are the parrots on his shirt blue?' Irish students respond to Flannery O'Connor., Flannery O'Connor Review, 14, (1), 2016, p74 - 81 Journal Article, 2016

'The room must evoke some ghosts': Tennessee Williams in, editor(s)Susan Castillo Street and Charles L. Crow , The Palgrave Handbook of the Southern Gothic, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp379 - 390, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2016

American Modernism from the 1930s to the 1950s: Williams and Stevens to Black Mountain and the Beats in, editor(s)Lee M. Jenkins and Alex Davis , A History of Modernist Poetry , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp341 - 358, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2015

Stephen Matterson, Melville: Fashioning in Modernity, 1st, London and New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, 1 - 232pp Book, 2014

Three beginnings - William Carlos Williams, and In the American Grain in, editor(s)Maria Stuart, Fionnghuala Sweeney, Fionnuala Dillane , Maintaining a Place Conditions of Metaphor in Modern American Literature, Dublin, UCD Press, 2014, pp96 - 110, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2014

Stephen Matterson, The Present Tense: Beneficent Anaesthesia in Anthony Hecht's Poetry, POST: A Review of Poetry Studies (online journal), V, (1), 2014, p15 - 31 Journal Article, 2014

W. H. Auden's Detours in, editor(s)Stephen Matterson and Lucy Collins , Aberration in Modern Poetry, Jefferson, NC, McFarland, 2012, pp36 - 48, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2012

Philip Coleman and Stephen Matterson (eds), 'Forever Young'? The Changing Images of America, Wittenberg, Germany, European Association of American Studies/Winter Publishers, Heidelberg, 2012, ix - 271pp Book, 2012

Introduction in, editor(s)Philip Coleman and Stephen Matterson , 'Forever Young'? The Changing Images of America, Wittenberg, Germany, European Association of American Studies/Winter Publishers, Heidelberg, 2012, pp1 - 7, [Stephen Matterson and Philip Coleman] Book Chapter, 2012

Stephen Matterson and Lucy Collins, Aberration in Modern Poetry, 1st, Jefferson NC, McFarland, 2012, 1 - 246pp Book, 2012

Stephen Matterson and Darryl Jones, Studying Poetry: second edition, revised and expanded, 2nd, London and New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011, 1 - 200pp Book, 2011

"Don't you think it's about time?" Back to the Future in Black and White in, editor(s)Sorcha Ní Fhlainn , The Worlds of Back to the Future, Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland, 2010, pp62 - 72, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2010

"The Consecration of his enterprise": Henry James's "The Real Right Thing" in, editor(s)Julie Ann Stevens and Helen Conrad O'Briain , The Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2010, pp203 - 215, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2010

"Dreaming about the Dead: The Master" in, editor(s)Paul Delaney , Colm Tóibín: A Collection of Critical Essays, Dublin, Liffey Press, 2008, pp131 - 148, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2008

"Edgar Allan Poe and the Orang-Utan" in, editor(s)Philip Coleman , On Literature and Science: Essays, Reflections, Provocations, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2007, pp115 - 128, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2007

"He Lived Like A Rat: The Trickster In The Dream Songs." in, editor(s)Philip Coleman and Philip McGowan , After Thirty Falls: Essays on John Berryman, Amsterdam and New York, Rodopi, 2007, pp141 - 154, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2007

"New Configurations: The Framing Of Pocahontas" in, editor(s)Michael Hinds, Peter Denman, and Margaret Kellegher , The Irish Reader: Essays In Honour of John Devitt, Dublin, Otior Press, Mater Dei Institute, 2007, pp99 - 109, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2007

Stephen Matterson, Review of Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form, by David Caplan , Modern Language Review, 102, (2), 2007, p499-500 Review, 2007

Stephen Matterson, The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman, Hertfordshire, Wordsworth, 2006, 1 - 608pp Book, 2006

An American who wasn't an American: W. H. Auden in, editor(s)Josef Jarab, Marcel Arbeit and Jenel Virden , America in the Course of Human Events: Presentation and Interpretation, Amsterdam, VU University Press, 2006, pp173 - 184, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2006

The New Criticism in, editor(s)Patricia Waugh , Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp166 - 176, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2006

Washington Irving's American Scene: A Tour on the Prairies in, editor(s)David Rio, Amaia Ibarraran, Jose Miguel Santamaria and M. Felisa Lopez , Exploring the American Literary West: International Perspectives, Vitoria, University of the Basque Country, 2006, pp69 - 78, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2006

Stephen Matterson and Michael Hinds, Rebound: The American Poetry Book, Amsterdam and Atlanta, Rodopi, 2004 Book, 2004

"To Make it Mean Me: Frost's North of Boston as a sequence." in, editor(s)Stephen Matterson and Michael Hinds , Rebound: The American Poetry Book, Amsterdam and Atlanta, Rodopi, 2004, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2004

Stephen Matterson, American Literature: The Essential Glossary, London and New York, Arnold and Oxford UP, 2003 Book, 2003

"Robert Lowell's Life Studies" in, editor(s)Neil Roberts , Blackwell's Companion to 20th Century Poetry , Oxford, Blackwell, 2001, [Stephen Matterson] Book Chapter, 2001

Stephen Matterson, "The Whole Habit of the Mind': Stevens, Americanness and the Use of Elsewhere.", The Wallace Stevens Journal, 25, (2), 2001 Journal Article, 2001

Research Expertise


In broadest terms my research has been focused on American literature. While I've published and worked on the earlier period, my major area has been on post American Renaissance 19th century, and on modern and contemporary writing. Generically I've been reasonably divided between an interest in US prose fiction, and in US poetry, especially poetry of the period 1930 to 1980. While my research is varied, my major monographs have been on Herman Melville and the representation of clothing in his fiction, and on the key poets of the so-called middle generation, Robert Lowell and John Berryman. I am a particularly strong believer in the importance of collaborative research, especially where this helps in the development of a younger scholar or early-stage academic. Thus, my research outputs include collections of essays jointly edited with three of my former PhD students, Philip Coleman, Michael Hinds and Bernice Murphy, and the then developing scholar Lucy Collins, One of my planned projects is with a recently graduated PhD student of mine, Sarah Cullen. In some regards I have been fortunate in being able to develop research from my own initiative and which is closely linked with my teaching and research supervision. At the same time I've been reluctant to cultivate only one research profile. For instance, when I worked on my Melville book, colleagues tended to assume I would become exclusively a Melvillean--as many of my most admired colleagues have done, and that my research would be grounded there. But my interests remain varied and need to come from my own personal engagement at some level. My current project, the formulas of Henry James has grown from a long-held engagement with James along with an emerging recognition of his interest in how human relations may be represented as formulaic. I'm at the happy stage of researching and reflecting on this, without necessarily defining the actual research output--monograph, a series of articles, or a special issue of a Journal.


  • Title
    • James and Games
  • Summary
    • An examination of 'the formula' in the fiction of Henry James and how this relates to games in literature, including the Oulipo group.
  • Title
    • Wallace Stevens in the Dark
  • Summary
    • Critical article examining night and darkness in Stevens's poetry as part of his creative engagement with English Romanticism


20th Century poetry; American Literature generally, especially Herman Melville; Poetry of Wallace Stevens; Representations of Race in American Literature



Modern Language Association

Irish Association of American Studies

European Association of American Studies

Wallace Stevens Society