Staff profile

Dr Erin Lafford

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in English


English, Creative Writing and Publishing


College of Arts, Humanities and Education



Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in English.  Before coming to the University of Derby in 2018, I was a Lecturer in English 1760-1830 at St Peter's College, University of Oxford.

My research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and its intersections with medicine, aesthetics, and environmental thought.  I have special interests in the poetry and poetics of this period, and in the works of John Clare in particular.  I am also currently interested in writings about the picturesque, especially the travelogues of William Gilpin.

In addition to my research, I also teach English modules at BA and MA level.

Teaching responsibilities

Research interests

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature; Romanticism; poetry and poetics; John Clare; medical and health humanities; environmental humanities; aesthetics; form; affect and emotions

My current book project is adapted from my doctoral research on the labouring-class Romantic poet John Clare, entitled Forms of Health in John Clare's Poetics.  It examines how Clare engages with contemporaneous medical, social, and cultural understandings of health and illness, and how ideas about the healthy and unhealthy body and mind shape his writings at a thematic and formal level.  Drawing on Clare's lyric and descriptive poetry, his journals, prose, and letters, as well as on the range of medical contexts he was surrounded by, the book explores how health, illness, and their 'forms' are central to how Clare negotiates writing about the self, the environment, and poetry. 

I am also researching a new project on the intersection of landscape aesthetics, ecology, and medical thought in the long eighteenth century.  As part of this research I am currently writing about the medical, environmental, and aesthetic implications of 'atmosphere' in the work of William Gilpin. 

My previous research has also explored the conversation between poetry and theology in Romantic, Victorian, and twentieth-century poetry.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

I regularly attend and present at conferences in my field.  I have also organised conferences based on my research interests.  Most recently, I co-organised the conference 'Change of Air: Atmosphere, Health, and Locality in the Romantic Era' at the University of Oxford in September 2018.  I regularly present at the biennial conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies, where my latest paper was on 'Clare's Fenland Airs' (University of York, 2017).  In May 2018 I was invited to speak at the 'Atmospheres' symposium at the University of York, where I gave a paper on 'Atmospheric Aesthetics in Gilpin's Picturesque'.  

Additional interests and activities

I sit on the committee of the John Clare Society, which organsies the annual John Clare Festival in Helpston.  I am also Reviews Editor of the John Clare Society Journal.

Recent publications

Edited collection:

Simon Kovesi and Erin Lafford, Palgrave Advances in John Clare Studies (Palgrave, forthcoming)

Journal articles:

Erin Lafford, '"But now we float": Cowper, Air-Balloons, and the Poetics of Flight', Cowper and Newton Journal, 8 (2018), pp. 23-41.

Erin Lafford, 'Clare's Mutterings, Murmurings, and Ramblings: The Sounds of Health', John Clare Society Journal, 30 (2014), pp. 24-40.

Erin Lafford, '"asking in tears for forgiveness": Weeping as 'Gentling' in Blake's Milton', Literature Compass, 11.2 (2014), pp. 117-125.

Erin Lafford, 'Elizabeth Bishop's 'Dappled Thing': Visual Counterpoint and Devotional Attention in 'The Man Moth'', Literature and Theology, 25.3 (2012), pp. 252-267.

I am currently preparing essays on 'botanical health' in the poetry of John Clare, on song and air in Clare's fenland poems, and on William Gilpin's 'atmospheric aesthetics'.  I have written review articles for Romanticism, the John Clare Society Journal, and The British Society of Literature and Science.