Professor Christopher McCully

Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)
Professor Christopher McCully



Chris worked full-time at the University of Manchester until 2003, where he specialised in teaching and research relating to the history and structure of the English language. At the same time, he ran consecutive series of poetry readings and talks at what was then the Manchester Poetry Centre. Between 2003-13 he worked in the Netherlands, dividing his time between freelance writing and university work, including the inception of the Graduate School for the Humanities at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, where Chris was Managing Director. In 2013 he came to live and work in Essex, where he combines university work with freelance writing. Chris has written, co-authored or edited over twenty books. His most recent single-author collection of verse is Serengeti Songs (Carcanet, 2016); a new translation of Beowulf together with an extended prose Afterword appeared from Carcanet in 2018. A book of travel essays, Four Places, appeared from the Muscaliet Press, 2018. In 2018 Chris also completed a further book-length typescript, Stour Diaries, about the angling, ecology and culture of the Stour valley; this title is expected to appear from the Medlar Press in 2019 or 2020. At present he is working on a set of analyses of English poetic form (The Fretted Muse); he has also completed a new collection of poems (working title The English Funerals). Many of these publications are destined for Carcanet Press, with whom Chris retains strong links. Chris is also, if slowly, preparing a new collection of poems (working title A Few Late Wasps) which will open a volume of Collected Poems, expected from Carcanet probably in 2022 or 2023. Other work underway in 2019 includes two further books, Names of the Fish (in British and Irish Freshwaters) - a work of lexicography - and what will probably be the last of Chris's angling and environmental books, The River of All the Goodbyes. This last title focusses on the ecology of the River Wharfe, in Chris's native Yorkshire. Both these titles will be sent up to The Medlar Press, with whom, like Carcanet, Chris retains strong links. He is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Faculty of Arts, University of Manchester. Until 2017 he was the founder and co-director of the Modern Literary Archives Programme at the John Rylands University Library and the instigator (and one of the convenors) of the annual Rylands Reading Over the past thirty years Chris has contributed many articles, essays, reviews and research papers to academic journals spanning linguistics, philology, stylistics and literature. Chris's most recent academic essays, which have appeared in PNReview, are on Joseph Conrad ('Conrad, culture, civilisation') and on closure and English metrics ('Counting, closure and prosody', 2017). Chris continues to supervise research (PhD) candidates. He is particularly interested to work with researchers who wish to specialise in the origins and development of poetic forms in English. Personal website:


  • BA (Hons) University of Newcastle upon Tyne,

  • PhD University of Manchester,


University of Essex

  • Professor, Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex (1/10/2019 - present)

  • Senior Lecturer, Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex (1/10/2017 - 30/9/2019)

Other academic

  • Lecturer, Engels, University of Groningen (1/8/2007 - 30/8/2013)

  • Lecturer (0.4fte), Engels, VU University Amsterdam (1/10/2003 - 1/7/2007)

  • Senior Lecturer, English and American Studies, University of Manchester (1/1/1994 - 30/9/2003)

  • Lecturer, English and American Studies, University of Manchester (1/10/1985 - 31/12/1993)

  • Visiting professor, English, University of California Los Angeles (1/9/1995 - 31/12/1995)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

The history of literatures in English

Open to supervise

history of the English language

Open to supervise

phonology and verseform

Open to supervise

representations of home in literature

Open to supervise

Current research

Chris's academic research focusses on English poetic form across almost all periods. In 2015 he convened a workshop on metrics (University of Essex) and will be developing the themes explored in that workshop over the next few years. He is also closely involved in the development of a new research strand which is exploring representations of 'home' in literature.

Conferences and presentations

Raiding the demotic

Invited presentation, International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, University of Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands, 7/6/2021

2016 Reading (poems), feva (Knaresborough Literary Festival - August)


2016 Serengeti Songs launched at Essex Book Festival

United Kingdom, 2016

2016 'Beowulf's homecoming'. Talk at Essex Book Festival

United Kingdom, 2016

2015 'Closure and the impossibility of prosody'. Metrics workshop, University of Essex.

Colchester, United Kingdom, 2015

2015 Reading (poems), Essex Book Festival

United Kingdom, 2015

2014 Reading (poems), Mere Literary Festival


2014 'Beowulf: the monsters and the translators'. Talk, Departmental research seminar, University of Essex

Colchester, United Kingdom, 2014

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Poetry: A Very Short Introduction (LT143)

  • The Writer's Toolkit (LT191)

  • Writing Structures (LT209)

  • Creative Non-Fiction (LT245)

  • Independent Creative Writing Project (LT832)

  • Creative Writing Workshop (LT911)

Previous supervision

Nicola Dawn Winder
Nicola Dawn Winder
Thesis title: 'Unpenned': A Collection of Responses to Fairy Tales, Together with a Critical Commentary
Degree subject: Creative Writing
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 5/6/2020
Jeremy Samuel Richard Solnick
Jeremy Samuel Richard Solnick
Thesis title: 'Rivonia'
Degree subject: Creative Writing
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 27/9/2019


Journal articles (18)

McCully, C., Raiding the demotic: verse as evidence for speech prosody in Old and Middle English. English Language and Linguistics

McCully, C. and Minkova, D., Verse structure and linguistic modelling: introductory notes. English Language and Linguistics

McCully, CB., (2017). Beginning with endings: An essay on prosody. Pn Review. 237, 55-61

McCully, C., (2014). Culture, Civilisation, Conrad. PN Review. 219, 36-41

McCully, CB., (2003). Towards a theory of poetic change. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics. 12 (1), 5-25

McCully, C., (2002). Exaptation and English stress. Language Sciences. 24 (3-4), 323-344

McCully, C., (2002). Coming across America: The idiot phone, and other poems. Poetry Wales. 38 (2), 42-45

McCully, CB., (2001). More on Memes. PN Review. 28 (2 [142]), 30-33

Twose, G. and McCully, CB., (2001). Adverbial function in English verse: the case of thus. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics. 10 (4), 291-306

Twose, G. and McCully, CB., (2001). Adverbial function in English verse: The case of thus. Language and Literature. 10 (4), 291-306

McCully, CB., (2000). Writing under the influence: Milton and Wordsworth, mind and metre. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics. 9 (3), 195-214

Halkyard, SK. and McCully, CB., (1995). 'Thoughts of Inventive Brains and the Rich Effusions of Deep Hearts': Some of the Twentieth-Century Literary Archives of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. 77 (2), 105-121

McCully, CB. and Hogg, RM., (1994). Dialect Variation and Historical Metrics. Diachronica. 11 (1), 13-34

McCully, CB., (1993). The English alliterative tradition. Lingua. 89 (4), 353-360

McCully, CB., (1991). NON-LINEAR PHONOLOGY AND ELIZABETHAN PROSODY. Transactions of the Philological Society. 89 (1), 1-35

McCully, CB. and Hogg, RM., (1990). An account of Old English stress. Journal of Linguistics. 26 (02), 315-315

McCully, CB. and Holmes, M., (1988). Some notes on the structure of acronyms. Lingua. 74 (1), 27-43

McCully, CB., (1984). On old English verse rhythm: A reply. English Studies. 65 (5), 385-391

Books (8)

McCully, C., (2021). The English Funerals. Muscaliet Press. 9781912616091

McCully, C., (2019). Stour Diaries - Fishing the Suffolk Stour. Medlar Press. 978-1907110887

McCully, C., (2018). Four Places. Muscaliet Press. 978-1-912616-01-5

Mccully, C., (2018). Beowulf. Carcanet Press. 1784106224. 9781784106225

McCully, C., (2016). Serengeti Songs. Carcanet Press. 978 1 784102 52 4

Mccully, C. and Hilles, S., (2016). The Earliest English. Routledge. 9780582404748

McCully, C., (2001). The Sound Structure of English. Cambridge University Press. 9780521615495

Hogg, R. and McCully, CB., (1987). Metrical Phonology: A Coursebook. Cambridge University Press

Book chapters (8)

McCully, C. and Denison, D., (2011). Introduction to Part I. In: Analysing Older English. Cambridge University Press. 7- 14. 9780521112468

McCully, C., (2011). Introduction to Part II. In: Analysing Older English. Cambridge University Press. 59- 62. 9780521112468

McCully, CB., (2002). What ’s afoot with word-final C?. In: Sounds, Words, Texts and Change. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 173- 187. 9789027247322

(2000). Preface. In: Generative Theory and Corpus Studies. De Gruyter Mouton. V- XVI. 9783110166873

McCully, CB., (1997). Stress, survival and change: Old to Middle English. In: Studies in Middle English Linguistics. DE GRUYTER MOUTON. 283- 300. 9783110152425

McCully, CB., (1996). Domain-End Phenomena and Metrical Templates in Old English Verse. In: English Historical Metrics. Cambridge University Press. 42- 58. 9780521554640

McCully, CB., (1994). A Kind of Witness: The Poet's Voice and Poetic Craft. In: In Black and Gold: Contiguous Traditions in Post-War British and Irish Poetry. Brill/Rodopi. 303- 326. 9789051836752

McCully, CB., (1992). The Phonology of Resolution in OE Word-Stress and Metre. In: Evidence for Old English: Material and Theoretical Bases for Reconstruction. John Donald Publishers. 117- 141

Thesis dissertation (1)

McCully, CB., The Phonology of English Rhythm and Metre, with Special Reference to Old English

Other (4)

McCully, C., (2014).'Salting, Spurn' & 'State Your Denomination',Angle, Journal of Poetry in English

(2000).Generative Theory and Corpus Studies. Generative Theory and Corpus Studies: A Dialogue from 10 ICEHL,DE GRUYTER MOUTON

(1996).English Historical Metrics,Cambridge University Press

(1994).The Poet's Voice and Craft,Carcanet Press

+44 (0) 1206 872245


5NW.4.6, Colchester Campus

More about me
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