Bristow, Joseph


Bristow, Joseph
Distinguished Professor
Humanities 264
Tel: 310.825.4173
Fax: 310.267.4339
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BA (London) MLitt (Stirling) PhD (Southampton)

Professor Joseph Bristow, who joined UCLA in 1996, teaches a range of courses in Victorian and modern literature, as well as in theories and histories of sexuality. His areas of special interest are British aestheticism (particularly Oscar Wilde and his circle), decadence, and Edwardian writing.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he published extensively on Victorian poetry; his publications from these decades include Nineteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology (co-edited with Isobel Armstrong and Cath Sharrock) (1996, revised 1998), which has helped reshape the study of women’s writings of the late Romantic and Victorian eras. At the same time, he established fresh research in the emerging field of LGBT literary studies, including the edited collection, Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing (1992), Effeminate England: Homoerotic Writing after 1885 (1995), and Sexuality (1997, second edition 2010) in the New Critical Idiom series from Routledge.

During the past ten years, Professor Bristow has continued his research on Victorian poetry. His publications in this field include The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry (2000) and The Fin-de-Siècle Poem: English Literary Culture and the 1890s (2005).

Since joining UCLA, Professor Bristow has been closely involved with scholarly activities related to William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. During 1999-2000, in his role as Clark Professor, he arranged the programs of four conferences, which led to the publication of the essay collection, Wilde Writings: Contextual Conditions (University of Toronto Press, 2003). Selections from the 2004 conference, “Wilde at 150,” formed the basis of another collection, Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend, which Ohio University Press issued in early 2009. In 2005, Oxford University Press published his variorum edition of Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Two years later, Oxford published his edition of the 1891 text of this novel in the World’s Classics series. In 2013, University of Toronto Press published his third edited collection of critical essays on Wilde: Wilde Discoveries; Traditions, Histories, Archives. In March 2015, Yale University Press published a study (coauthored with Rebecca N. Mitchell), Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery, which takes Wilde’s “Chatterton” notebook as the starting-point for considering Thomas Chatterton’s cultural and poetic legacy, on the one hand, and Wilde’s interest in producing a history of literary Romanticism, on the other hand.

In 2007, Professor Bristow directed “The Wilde Archive”: a five-week summer seminar for both university and college teachers sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This seminar led to the conference of the same name, which was hosted at the Clark Library in 2009. In 2009, Professor Bristow directed a second NEH summer seminar, “The Decadent 1890s,” at the Clark Library. A third NEH-sponsored seminar, “Oscar Wilde and His Circle,” took place at the Clark Library during late June and July 2012. He has also taught several graduate and undergraduate courses based on researching the Clark’s Wilde-related collections.

During 2010-2011, in his second term as Clark Professor, Professor Bristow directed a yearlong program titled “Cultures of Aestheticism” at the Clark Library: In addition, in June 2011 he participated in the group that presented the XXII North American James Joyce Conference, which was held at The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, and the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

At present, Professor Bristow continues his responsibilities as editor of Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture, which was established in 2003; by the end of 2013 the series will contain more than thirty-five titles. Further information about the series can be found at

Some of his newer essays—on Rupert Brooke’s poetry, on Wilde’s poetry, and on the aesthetic novel—have recently appeared ELH, Wilde in Context (Cambridge University Press), and The Cambridge History of the Modernist Novel, respectively. He is also the editor of a cluster of papers on Irish aestheticism, which appeared in Modernism/Modernity in August 2014. He is the coeditor (with Josephine McDonagh) of an essay collection, Nineteenth-Century Radical Traditions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). He is also editing a collection titled “Oscar Wilde and the Culture of Childhood,” which is based on the conference of that name that took place at UCLA in May 2015.

At the moment, Professor Bristow is a working on a reconstruction of the two criminal trials that resulted in Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. In 2016-2007, he will be on sabbatical leave, supported by an ACLS collaborative research award, in order to complete his contribution to the Oxford University Press edition of Wilde’s unfinished and miscellaneous writings. He is editing, too, Walter Pater’s unpublished essays for Oxford University Press.

Professor Bristow has advised many doctoral candidates at UCLA. He is currently serving as chair or co-chair of several dissertation committees. His advisees are researching the following topics: Victorian women in Modernist fiction; evolutionary aestheticism; tourism in Romantic and Victorian writing; and debates about standardization in children’s literature, 1865-1955.