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Dr Vladimir Brljak

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies+44 (0) 191 33 43370
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 


I joined the Department in 2018, having previously studied at the Universities of Zagreb (BA) and Warwick (PhD), and held the Thole Research Fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I have held visiting fellowships and grants at the Bodleian Libraries' Centre for the Study of the Book, Huntington Library, Durham University (Seedcorn Fund Award), and the Warburg Institute, and given invited talks at a range of European and American institutions.


I work mainly on English literary history, c.1500-1700, with particular interests in allegory, the history of literary criticism, and the work of John Milton. In addition, I have wider interests in the long history of poetics and hermeneutics, and the literary and cultural history of outer space and the cosmological imagination. Besides single-authored research, I am involved in several collaborative projects, teaming up with colleagues in other specializations within English literary history, other fields in the humanities and social sciences, and the creative arts.

Current projects include:

  • When Did Space Turn Dark? (Reaktion Books, under contract). Monograph exploring the shift from a bright to a dark universe in the Western cosmological imagination. While other comparable transformations - for example, from a geocentric to a heliocentric, or a bounded to an unbounded, universe - have been extensively studied, the turn from bright to dark space has received only minor notice in premodern literary history, and remains entirely unnoticed beyond this field. The project emerges out of my interest in the work of John Milton but draws on textual and visual evidence from antiquity to the present, offering the first sustained study of the subject.
  • Literary Criticism of the English Renaissance, ed. Gavin Alexander, Catherine Bates, Vladimir Brljak, Sarah Knight, and Micha Lazarus, 4 vols (Oxford University Press, under contract). Edition of primary sources in the subject. My contribution focuses on the period c.1605-75: a 'lost' age of English literary thought, typically presented as a dormant interlude between a waning 'Renaissance' and a 'Long Eighteenth Century' rather than a productive epoch in its own right. I have conducted systematic research on the subject since 2017, identifying over a hundred substantial sources, including nearly twenty unpublished works in manuscript. Trebling the corpus collected in previous scholarship, my work recovers this lost age and reassesses its contribution to literary and intellectual history.
  • Poetics before Modernity: Literary Theory in the West from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, ed. Vladimir Brljak and Micha Lazarus (Oxford University Press, under contract). Edited collection emerging from the eponymous project, redrawing the map of premodern literary thought across received historical and disciplinary divides.
  • Space in Time: From the Heavens to Outer Space, ed. Vladimir Brljak, Veronica della Dora, Stamatina Mastorakou, and John Tresch (under consideration). Edited collection emerging from the eponymous conference (Warburg Institute, 2023), exploring the long and global cultural history of the space beyond Earth, from the ancient heavens to modern outer space.

I am co-founder of 'Poetics before Modernity' (2016-), a collaborative project exploring the history of early literary thought, which I convene with Micha Lazarus and an international team of colleagues. The project organizes events in the field and publishes Sources in Early Poetics (Brill), on which I serve as General Editor.

As Secondary Proposer, I am part of the COST Action 'Futures-oriented Governance of Outer Space: Towards Peace, Equity, and Environmental Integrity (FOGOS)' (2024-), collaborating with a team led by Florian Rabitz, ranging across the human and social sciences.

I have also published on various other topics: Old English poetry; references to religious doctrine and controversy in Shakespeare's work; the formation of the Faust legend; modern authors drawing on 'medieval' sources and traditions (Borges, Tolkien).


I convene What Is Literature? Literary Thought from Antiquity to Modernity (L2), 'Paradise Lost' as Science Fiction (L3), and Early Modern Science Fiction (MA, forthcoming 2024-25); tutor on Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature (L2); lecture across the pre-1900 syllabus (L1-3); and supervise BA, MA and PhD dissertations on a wide range of topics.

Doctoral Supervision and Postdoctoral Mentorship

I welcome enquiries from prospective doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers interested in topics indicated above.

Esteem Indicators


Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)


Supervision students