Sheldon Brammall


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am happy to hear from students interested in working on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, especially with any projects relating to translation, poetry, comparative literature, or the classical tradition.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Before coming to Birmingham in 2017, I was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford (2014-17). From 2013 to 2014 I was a Research Fellow at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck, Austria.

I completed my studies at the University of British Columbia (BA, 2004-7), Magdalen College, Oxford (MSt, 2007-8), and Trinity College, Cambridge (PhD, 2008-12).

Research interests

My research focuses on early modern poetry, and particularly its relationship to classical and European contexts. So far, I have undertaken two major lines of research, both centred upon the early modern reception of Virgil.

The first resulted in my monograph, The English Aeneid: Translations of Virgil, 1555-1646 (EUP), as well as an on-going series of articles. In this line of research, I have concentrated on a run of thirteen translations of at least a full book of the Aeneid that appeared from the accession of Elizabeth until the Civil Wars. This remarkable series of translations constituted a sustained dialogue about the poem that extends across the entire century. Since the monograph appeared in 2015, I have continued to research early modern translation, recently working on translation theory, an edition of an unprinted manuscript translation from the Civil Wars, as well as chapters on Gavin Douglas and John Dryden.

The second line of research has been the basis of my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship over the past three years, ‘The Appendix Vergiliana and the Renaissance Art of Discernment’. In this project, I am looking at poems that were attributed to Virgil during the Renaissance, but which we today no longer consider authentic. Early modern canons of classical authors sometimes differ remarkably from our contemporary ones, and Virgil is a case in point. The Appendix Vergiliana is a large collection of poems that were attributed to Virgil from antiquity through the early modern period. The collection includes an epyllion about a gnat’s journey to the underworld, a metamorphosis narrative about the Megarian princess Scylla, and a collection of shorter pieces (epigrams, curses, autobiographical poems, erotic verse). Modern studies of Virgil tend to ignore these works because we no longer consider them authentic, but to a Renaissance reader they represented a significant portion of Virgil’s early output. My project is to write this other Virgil back into our understanding of Renaissance poetry, and to explore the steps by which the modern Virgilian canon was formed. The poets and scholars I am studying range from Angelo Poliziano and Pietro Bembo to Edmund Spenser and John Milton. I am especially concerned with how the Appendix can reshape our understanding of literary careers and personal literary styles in the early modern period. The research will produce a second monograph in the upcoming years. 



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