Dr John J McTague

BA(Oxon.), M.St(Oxon.), DPhil(Oxon.)

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature; the representation of British politics 1660-1740; partisan historiography; propaganda and blame; hoaxes and conspiracies; history of the book.

My general interests are in literature and politics in the late-Stuart and Hanoverian periods, bibliography and the history of the book. My monograph, Things That Didn't Happen: Writing, Politics and the Counterhistorical, 1678-1743, is about the counterhistorical tendencies in the literature and propaganda of this period, focussing on fabricated conspiracies, failures, and speculations such as the Popish Plot, the Rye House Plot, and the South-Sea Bubble. My work deals a lot with anonymous and pseudonymous publications, but also engages with the works of such writers as Dryden, Rochester, Behn, Defoe, Swift, Mandeville, and Pope (the book concludes with an extended reading of the Dunciads). I am the co-editor (with Rebecca Bullard) of The Plays and Poems of Nicholas Rowe, Volume 1: The Early Plays (Pickering and Chatto, 2016). I have written articles on Swift's Bickerstaff hoax, the warming-pan scandal of 1688-9, the arrest of Delarivier Manley after the publication of The New Atalantis in 1709, political poetic miscellanies, 'practical' satire of the eighteenth century, and prose hoaxes, bites and shams.  

I am currently a co-director of the Centre for Material Texts.

In 2017 I was co-I (with PI Josie McLellan) on the Brigstow Institute funded project 'Telling Stories About Learning Difficulties', a collaboration with Openstorytellers that sought to tell the story of Fanny Fust, a wealthy Bristol heiress with learning difficulties who in 1787 was abducted and carried to France by the fortune-hunter Henry Bowerman, where he married her. The Brigstow project that led to a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid and the development of the Fanny Fust performance, which premiered in Frome in July 2018. Watch an Openstorytellers animation telling the story here.  

Teaching Information

I am Lead Programme Director of the Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences (CertHE) and a seminar tutor on the course 'What Does it Mean to be Human' on that programme.

On the English undergraduate programme I teach or have taught the first year courses Critical Issues and Contemporary Writing, early modern and eighteenth-century survey courses, and the second year course 'Writing the City: London 1550-1740'. My special subject course is 'The Author as Character,' thinking about the history of authorship through texts that purport to have been written by fictional characters (i.e. Defoe's Moll Flanders), or which contain characters that represent 'real' authors (i.e. Lessing's The Golden Notebook). I have also contributed teaching to various units on our English Literature and Community Engagement degree.

I contribute to the book historical and bibliographical components of the MA course 'Introduction to Literary Research'. I am supervising PhDs on the culture of secrecy and literary politics in England, 1687-1754 (Alexis Wu) and eighteenth-century representations of female violence and intimidation (Louise Bray). I would be delighted to hear from prospective postgraduate students interested in my areas of research, or indeed in areas adjacent to them. 


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