Five Questions: Matthew Ward on Romantic Poets and the Laughter of Feeling

By Matthew Sangster

Matthew Ward is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of Birmingham. His work focuses on British Romanticism, poetic traditions and intellectual history – he is especially interested in the history of humour, questions of influence, emotions and affect studies, the nature of sound, and issues in ecology. Recent publications include Byron Among the English Poets: Literary Tradition and Poetic Legacy (co-edited with Clare Bucknell), ‘Funny Feelings in Nature‘ (with Erin Lafford), ‘Burns, Satan, and the Sin of Rhyme‘ and ‘Lord Byron, Thomas Hood, and the Tides of Feeling‘. His first monograph, Romantic Poets and the Laughter of Feeling, which we discuss below, has just been released by Oxford University Press.

1) How did you first become interested in laughter in the Romantic period?

In many ways it can be traced back to when I was a postgraduate student. I worked on Byron’s sense of humour for my MA, and that evolved into a PhD on the sound of laughter in Romantic poetry. I’d found humour a rather tricky topic to get hold of in some respects – …read more