William H. Galperin
Distinguished Professor of English
Chair's Office
Associate Chair
(848) 932-7960


Poetry & Poetics, Restoration & Eighteenth Century, Romantic

Eighteenth Century Literature; Eighteenth Century Poetry; Film and Cinema Studies; Nineteenth Century Literature; Nineteenth Century Poetry; Romantic Literature; Romantic Poetry

Professor Galperin has examined the relationship of canonical Romantic writing to both contemporaneous and contiguous developments in British literature and culture, beginning with his first book, Revision and Authority in Wordsworth: The Interpretation of a Career (1989). His study of Wordsworth explores the relationship between the poetry of Wordsworth’s so-called “great decade” and the poet’s middle and later poetry, showing how the later poetry, far from an anticlimax, represents a sharply critical engagement with the poet’s overtly Romantic writings and the hierarchies they install. In a similar vein, his second book, The Return of the Visible in British Romanticism (1993), demonstrates the extent to which Romantic culture was less a movement in the sway of a single or dominant ideology than a site of competing ideologies. Through texts ranging from Wordsworth’s The Prelude, to the theater criticism of Hazlitt, Lamb and Coleridge, to the painting of John Constable, to contemporary, precinematic spectacles such as the Panorama and the Diorama, Professor Galperin shows that the primacy of mind in the act of imagination was only one aspect of Romantic culture. There exists in the discourse of Romanticism a countermovement to that aesthetic experience in which things seen by the bodily eye are suddenly unassimilable to control or conceptualization in the same way that the human subject’s aspirations to autonomy are mitigated by its visibility and materiality.

Professor Galperin’s most recent book, The Historical Austen (2003) extends his effort to identify an expanded Romanticism by engaging the most important writer of the period not directly associated with the Romantic movement. Employing a composite of historicizing methods, ranging from the social to the literary, he retrieves Austen’s writings from their seemingly regulatory disposition through an interpretation of her fiction that takes full measure of the heterogeneity of her achievement. The largest of this study's concerns, particularly in its reconception of Romantic-period writing, involves the development of the novel itself, whose progress to realism is complicated by the possible worlds that animate the otherwise probable world that Austen's fiction is generally thought to serve. Professor Galperin is currently at work on a related project tentatively titled "The History of Missed Opportunities: Romanticism and the Emergence of the Everyday".

Professor Galperin teaches at all levels of the curriculum in English, from 200-level courses to graduate seminars. He also teaches in the Comparative Literature program, where he served as director of graduate studies, and has taught graduate courses in literary theory for students in both English and other literatures. In the graduate program, he teaches Romanticism and late-eighteenth-century/early-nineteenth-century literature through a variety of frameworks (Sensibility, Romantic Irony, Counterhegemony, the Fragment Poem, etc.). And he teaches undergraduates both in his own specialization and in fields apart. He often teaches the introduction to poetry required of all English majors and has taught advanced seminars on Shakespeare and the nineteenth-century novel.

Office / Office Hours

Murray Hall, Room 016, College Ave Campus


Courses Taught

  • Principles of Literary Study
  • British Romantic Writers
  • Early Romantic Literature
  • Jane Austen
  • Lord Byron
  • Romanticism and Realism
  • Shakespeare
  • Placing Jane Austen
  • Romanticism and the History of Missed Opportunities

Awards and Affiliations

  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title (for The Historical Austen), 2004
  • Rutgers University Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, 2004
  • Howard Foundation Fellowship, 1991-92
  • Rutgers University Research Council Grant, 1988, 1990
  • Rutgers University Research Council Summer Fellowship, 1984
  • Member, Modern Language Association
  • Member, Wordsworth-Coleridge Association
  • Member, North American Society for the Study of Romanticism
  • Member, International Society for the Study of Narrative Literature
  • Member, Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association


PhD, Brown University
MA, Brown University
BA, University of Chicago