Dr Jonathan Ellis

Reader in American Literature


Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA


My main research interests lie in the fields of twentieth-century American and British poetry, letter writing, and contemporary cinema.

I completed my PhD at the University of Hull, having previously taken a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. I joined the School of English at Sheffield in 2005, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2010 and a Reader in 2015.


Most of my research has been on the twentieth-century poet, Elizabeth Bishop. My first book, Art and Memory in the Work of Elizabeth Bishop (Ashgate) was published in 2006. Since then, I have published essays on Bishop’s love poems, on her epistolary relationship with the poet Anne Stevenson, and on the reception of her uncollected and unpublished poems. In 2014, I co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop with Professor Angus Cleghorn (Seneca College).

In June 2015 I organised a major international conference on Elizabeth Bishop’s Questions of Travel to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its publication. As part of the conference I commissioned Charlotte Hodes and Deryn Rees-Jones to create a poemfilm based on Bishop’s poem, “Questions of Travel.” The film premiered at the Site Gallery and was shortlisted for an AHRC Research in Film Award. In June 2018 I co-organised a further international conference on Elizabeth Bishop in Paris at the Sorbonne.

My new edited book, Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion, will be published in May 2019. It contains essays on all aspects of Bishop’s work, from her early writing in the 1930s to late poems finished after Geography III and those works published after her death. I have also recently begun co-editing, again with Professor Angus Cleghorn, Elizabeth Bishop in Context, for Cambridge University Press.

In addition to scholarship on Bishop, I have also published articles on Amy Clampitt, Paul Muldoon, Sylvia Plath and Jeanette Winterson, among others. An abiding interest in film is represented by recent publications on Barbara Hammer and Lynne Ramsay.

Much of my recent research is on twentieth-century letter writing. In 2008 I was awarded a British Academy Research Development Award of £86,539 to fund this work. The BARDA award also supported the organisation of a series of public lectures on letter writing by epistolary scholars and writers. Speakers included Anne Fadiman, Hermione Lee, Edna Longley, Hugh Haughton, Angela Leighton, Paul Muldoon and Frances Wilson. An edited collection of essays inspired by this series, Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2015. I am now working on a book on Letters for Oxford University Press.


I teach in all areas of my research, particularly American fiction, film and poetry. Courses I have taught at Sheffield include modules on Romantic and Victorian Poetry, Contemporary Literature, Twentieth-Century American Poetry and Road Movies. Since 2005 I have taught an MA course on Letter-Writing in the Twentieth-Century. 


I welcome applications from potential PhD students in all areas of my research interests, particularly American and British poetry of the modern and contemporary periods and the art of letter writing and its relationship to other literary genres. I am currently the primary supervisor to three PhD students, on Elizabeth Bishop, film noir, and the influence of Annie Hall on contemporary cinema.

In the past few years I have successfully supervised PhD projects on William Burroughs, Cold War fiction, Ted Hughes and religion, and twentieth-century letter writing.


  • Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion. Edinburgh University Press, 2019.
  • Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop. Edinburgh University Press, 2015.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop. Co-edited with Angus Cleghorn. Cambridge University Press, 2014
  • Art and Memory in the Work of Elizabeth Bishop. Ashgate Press. 2006
Articles in journals
  • ‘Elizabeth Bishop in the Present Tense: On Barbara Hammer’s Welcome to this House’, Another Gaze (Vol. 2), November 2018: pp. 52-56.
  • ‘Haunting Me’, The Tangerine (Vol. 4), Winter 2017: pp. 48-58
  • ‘“Can I go? Is it over?”: Endgames in Woody Allen’s Cinema’, Post Script (Vol 31, No. 2, Special Issue on Woody Allen in the 1990s). Summer 2012: pp. 23-33. Jointly authored with Neil Sinyard (Hull University)
  • ‘Aubade and Elegy: Elizabeth Bishop’s Love Poems’, English (Vol. 60, Issue 229), Summer 2011: pp. 161-179
  • ‘The Art of Anime: Freeze Frames and Moving Pictures in Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service’, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema (Vol. 2, No. 1), Spring 2011: pp. 21-34
  • ‘“A Curious Cat”: Elizabeth Bishop and the Spanish Civil War’, The Journal of Modern Literature (Vol. 27, No. 1/2, Special Issue on ‘Modern Poets’), Fall 2003: pp. 137–148
  • ‘From Maps to Monuments: Elizabeth Bishop’s Shoreline Poems’, Mosaic (Vol. 36, No. 4, Special Issue on ‘Pilgrimage’), December 2003: pp. 103–119
Chapters in books
  • ‘Introduction: Incompatible Bishops?’, in Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion (Edinburgh University Press, 2019): pp. 1-15.
  • ‘Elizabeth Bishop in Ireland: From Seamus Heaney to Colm Tóibín’, in Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion (Edinburgh University Press, 2019): pp. 1-15.
  • ‘North (and South): Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar,’ in Mapping Cinematic Norths, eds. Julia Dobson and Jonathan Rayner (Peter Lang, 2016): pp. 113-129.
  • ‘Introduction: For what is a letter?’, in Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop, ed. Jonathan Ellis (Edinburgh University Press, 2015): pp. 1-16.
  • ‘Last Letters: Keats, Bishop, and Hughes’, in Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop, ed. Jonathan Ellis (Edinburgh University Press, 2015): pp. 231-245.
  • ‘Introduction: North and South’, in The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop, eds. Angus Cleghorn and Jonathan Ellis (Cambridge University Press, 2014): pp. 1-18. Jointly authored with Professor Angus Cleghorn (Seneca College)
  • ‘Alice in Wonderland: Authoring and Editing Elizabeth Bishop’s Uncollected Poems’, in Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions, eds. Angus Cleghorn, Bethany Hicok and Thomas Travisano, University of Virginia Press, 2012, pp. 11-25
  • ‘Michael Donaghy’, British Writers Supplement XIX, ed. Jay Parini, Gale, 2012, pp. 55-70
  • ‘Reading Bishop, Reading Darwin’, in Science and Modern Poetry: New Directions, ed. John Holmes, Liverpool University Press, 2012: pp. 181-193
  • ‘The Unquiet Dead: Memories of the Spanish Civil War in Guillermo del Toro’s Cinema’, in Millennial Cinema: Memory in Global Film, eds. Terence McSweeney and Amresh Sinha, Wallflower Press, 2012: pp. 173-191. Jointly-authored with Ana María Sánchez-Arce (Sheffield Hallam University)
  • ‘Mailed into Space: On Sylvia Plath’s Letters’, in Representing Sylvia Plath: New Essays on the Writer, eds. Sally Bayley and Tracy Brain Cambridge University Press, 2011: pp.13-31
  • ‘Ekphrastic Poetry: In and Out of the Museum’, in Blackwell’s Companion to Contemporary Poetic Genre, ed. Erik Martiny Blackwell, 2011: pp. 614-626
  • 'Between Us: Letters and Poems of Bishop and Stevenson’, in Anne Stevenson, ed. Angela Leighton, Liverpool University Press, 2010: pp. 28-54
  • 'Absence as Influence: Samuel Beckett and Paul Muldoon', in Beckett's Literary Legacies, eds. Matthew Feldman and Mark Nixon, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2007: pp. 40-57
  • ‘Boating through Venice: Cultural Translation in Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion’, in Identity and Cultural Translation: Women's Writing Across the Borders of Englishness, eds. Gabriela Macedo and Margarida Pereira, Peter Lang, 2005: pp. 237-246
  • ‘The Snow Queen: Elizabeth Bishop and Nova Scotia’, in Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery, eds. Linda Anderson and Jo Shapcott, Bloodaxe Books, 2002: pp. 63–86
  • ‘Elizabeth Bishop’s North & South’, in A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry, ed. Neil Roberts, Blackwell, 2001: pp. 457–468
Short essays
  • 'Exchanging Recipes' [Long review of Elizabeth Bishop's and Robert Lowell's Complete Correspondence], Poetry Ireland Review (Vol. 100), March 2010: pp. 116-124
  • ‘Between the Butterfly and the Caterpillar’ [Long review of Edward Thomas’s Collected Poems], Poetry Ireland Review (Vol. 97), Spring 2009: pp. 109-114
  • 'Elizabeth Bishop's Bone Key Poems', PN Review (Vol. 34, No. 3), Jan/Feb 2008: pp. 37-40
  • Afterlife: A Film by Hirokazu Kore-eda’, Film Quarterly (Vol. 57, No. 1), Fall 2003: pp. 32–37
  • ‘Mouthing Noises: Amy Clampitt’s Use of Music’, Thumbscrew 16, Summer 2000: pp. 29–34
  • With Mitoko Hirabayashi. ‘An Interview with Haruki Murakami’, The Georgia Review. November 2005: pp. 548-567. Reprinted by the Japanese publisher Bungeishunju in 2010 and 2012. The collection consists of Japanese translations of 18 interviews conducted in various languages between 1997 and 2009 (Murakami himself selected the interviews for translation).
Other publications
  • I publish reviews of contemporary fiction and poetry for Metre, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, and The Times Literary Supplement. Non-fiction work has appeared in The Letters Page and The Tangerine.