Dr Bridget Vincent

PhD (Cantab), MA (Chicago), BA (Hons) (Melbourne)
Lecturer in English
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • British And Irish Literature 470504
  • Comparative And Transnational Literature 470507
  • Ecocriticism 470509

Research interests

My past and current research projects have focused on the specific contributions that literary works, and literary modes of analysis, can make to the interdisciplinary discussion of ethical and political problems. This interest has manifested itself in diverse projects at the intersection of literature and philosophy: work on moral philosophy and post-1950s poetry for my first book, on public apology in global anglophone literature, on the ethics of attention in modern literature, and on representations of modern ruins in ecological fiction.

Cover for 

Moral Authority in Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill

My first book, Moral Authority in Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2022. It asks: how do poems communicate moral ideas? Can they express concepts in ways that are unique and impossible to replicate in other forms of writing? This book explores these questions by turning to two important twentieth century poets: Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill. Their work shows that a poem can act as an example of a moral concept, rather than simply a description or discussion of it. The concept of exemplarity is shown to play an important role in these poets' most significant preoccupations, from moral complicity to the nature of lyric speech to literary influence to memorialisation, responsibility, and aesthetic autonomy. In turn, the book also makes an intervention in larger debates about literature and morality, and about the field of ethical criticism itself: this is the first book-length study to expand ethical criticism beyond its customary narrative focus. The ethical criticism of fiction is often an exercise in methodological advocacy, urging the use of more literary examples in moral philosophy. As this book shows, including poetry among these examples introduces new, lyric-inflected caveats about the use of literature as a form of moral example.


One of my current projects is a literary history of public apology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Since the 1950s, the phenomenon of public apology has become increasingly prevalent, but representations of public apology in poetry and fiction are under-studied. Do depictions of public apology in books participate in the real-world process of restitution, or do they simply describe it? What implications does a judgement either way hold for scholarship on the larger relations between art and civic life? Focusing on three specific authors (Adrienne Rich, Geoffrey Hill, and Judith Wright), my research intervenes in a broader debate about how culture contributes to the social reparation of historical wrongs.

Currently I am undertaking a two-year Research Fellowship at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies. My fellowship research focuses on the corpus of environmental fiction and poetry depicting modern ruins. While considerable research has been devoted to literary ruins in earlier periods, the current moment is underexplored and commands urgent scholarly attention, especially in the context of environmental studies. This project examines urban ruins in contemporary writing, showing that literary depictions of ruins can form an important part of a text’s ecological work. Further information about my AIAS work is here: https://aias.au.dk/aias-fellows/bridget-vincent/

I also have an ongoing interest in the ethics of attention in modern literature. I convened a symposium on literature and attention in February 2020, funded by the British Academy Rising Star scheme, and published an article on Geoffrey Hill and ecological attention. I have also recently been awarded a grant by the Independent Social Research Foundation to explore the interdisciplinary dimensions of ethical attention in Kazuo Ishiguru’s Klara and the Sun with engineering researchers working on artificial intelligence. I am interested, in particular, in the ways in which the methodologies of literary study (including those of the close reading classroom) might be brought to bear on AI research and its management of indeterminacy and ambiguity.


Bridget Vincent completed a PhD at Cambridge University as a General Sir John Monash Scholar and a McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Melbourne. This was followed by a period as a Postdoctoral Affiliate at Clare Hall, Cambridge, funded by an Endeavour Research Fellowship. Before coming to the ANU, she taught on modern and contemporary literature at the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham. She has a longstanding interest in the public role of the humanities, and while at the University of Melbourne created a program designed to foster conversations in young people about the civic importance of critical thinking. She has also published literary journalism and op-eds in The Guardian, The Times Higher Education, The Age, Cordite and The Australian Book Review.

Researcher's projects


Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies Research Fellowship

Project title: The Architecture of Warning: Urban Ruins and the Ecological Imagination. February 2022-January 2024.


Past grants and awards:

British Academy Rising Star, 2018

Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Award for Research, (University of Nottingham) 2018

International Collaboration Award, (University of Nottingham) 2017

National Library of Australia Research Fellowship, (NLA) 2016

McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (Melbourne University) 2012-15

Equity Innovation Grant (University of Melbourne) 2014

Endeavour Research Fellowship (Australian Government) 2013

Vice-Chancellor’s Engagement Award (Melbourne University) 2013

Newton Trust Collaboration Grant (Cambridge University) 2013 

Available student projects

I would be happy to hear from potential PhD students working on 20thC literature and ethics, particularly those interested in poetry and poetics. 

Past student projects

PhD supervision:

Stephanie Limb, ‘The Monstrous Mother.’ 2019-2022. University of Nottingham.

Elizabeth Alblas, ‘The Women of World Mythology and Folklore.’ 2019-2022.  University of Nottingham. 

Philip Jones, ‘Rewriting the Atlantic Archipelago: Modern British Poetry at the Coast.’ 2015-2017. University of Nottingham.

Xiaofan Xu, ‘A Poet’s Country: Landscape and Nationhood in T.S. Eliot’s Post-Conversion Poetry and Politics.’ 2015-2017. 


PhD examination:

Internal examiner for Nicola Thomas, University Of Nottingham, 2016.

External examiner for Alison Clifton, University of Queensland, May 2013.

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Updated:  09 August 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers