New College of the Humanities sat down with NCH Senior Lecturer in English Dr Daniel Swift to discuss his latest research project and his thoughts on the connections between teaching and research.
NCH: Can you tell us more about your research interests?
My research falls into two historical periods: I’m interested in, and have written about, early modern literature, particularly religious literature; and English and American poetry of the mid-twentieth century. My PhD was on Shakespeare and his borrowing from the Book of Common Prayer, and my first book was about the aerial bombing campaigns of the Second World War, and the poetry those campaigns inspired.
NCH: What was your most recent research project?
I’ve recently finished a book called The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound. It will be published in February 2017, and is about the poet Ezra Pound, who spent twelve years immediately after the Second World War as a patient at St Elizabeths Hospital for the Insane in Washington, DC. Pound is a provocative figure, and divides his readers between those who believe he is a genius and those who are troubled by his extreme politics and wild opinions; in the book, I present Pound through the eyes of his visitors at the mental hospital, and argue that it is precisely because Pound was so difficult that he continues to teach us important lessons about poetry and politics in our world.<
NCH: How does your research influence your teaching?
I regularly teach many of the authors I’ve written about and researched, but I’ve almost always found that teaching a writer and researching that same writer are very different types of experience, and lead to surprisingly different conclusions; I have learned a great deal from the process of teaching, and from the students.