Born in Britain, Jonathan White grew up in the USA and Australia. He wrote his PhD on Shakespeare for the University of Cambridge between 1969 and 1974. From 1972 to 2009 he taught widely at Essex University on English and European literature courses, classical to modern, including postcolonial studies. His main long-term interests are in European cultural history, particularly Italian and French literature and other art forms. Over recent years he has increasingly worked on tracing cultural lineages from the Renaissance and Enlightenment through to the modern age. He has edited Recasting the World: Writing after Colonialism (1993), and published Italy: The Enduring Culture (2001) and Italian Cultural Lineages (2007). For two semesters of 2002-2003 he held a fellowship at the Italian Academy of Columbia University, New York; then in late 2003 another at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University. He held a further, visiting research professorship at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan for four months in 2008.
Professor White's interest in opera has led to his writing several articles for programmes of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. His ongoing work on global inhumanities and their commemoration has given rise to an article on Derek Walcott's handling of slavery and massacres of Native Americans; to another on the Korean War Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C.; and to a journal contribution grounded in his childhood memories of 1950s USA that extends to general theories of ‘memory mapping’ in relation to cultural history. Professor White’s most recent work has been a chapter on Contemporary European Culture and writing about walking and interpreting world cities. Future plans are to include versions of all these latest pieces in a larger study, with the current working title A Poetics of Cultural History.