Universiteit Leiden

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Peter Liebregts

Professor of Modern Literatures in English

Prof.dr. P.T.M.G. Liebregts
+31 71 527 2160

Peter Liebregts is a Professor of Modern Literatures in English at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Peter Liebregts

Fields of interest

  • Modernism (especially the writings of Ezra Pound, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot)
  • Modern/Contemporary literatures in English
  • The Nachleben of classical culture in modern English-language literatures/cultures


In my research on the Nachleben of classical culture in Modernist/modern English-language literature/culture, I emphasize the intertextual and appropriating aspects of the relationship between the source and its user while placing them in a wider historical-cultural context. In Centaurs in the Twilight: W.B. Yeats and the Classical Tradition, for example, I do not restrict myself to an intertextual classification of the traces of the classical tradition in Yeats’s work, but also describe his use of that tradition as part of his own involvement in the attempts in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century to achieve political and cultural independence from Great Britain,  as well as part of his interest in the occult.  In Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism, I offer an analysis of Pound’s appropriation of Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions, and how The Cantos may even be read as a contribution to the perpetuation of these traditions, while showing how crucial these traditions were in establishing Pound’s contribution to Modernism.

Between 2005 and 2013 I was involved in the international research project “After Augustine: A Survey of His Reception from 430 to 2000”, which resulted in the publication of the three-volume Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (Oxford University Press, 2013). Within this project, I was responsible for the writing and editing of the sections dealing with the 19th to 21st centuries, with lemmata on, for example, “J.M. Coetzee”, “Charles Taylor”, “Samuel Beckett”, and “Autobiography in the 20th Century”.

As of October 2014, I am a member of the Board of Scholars supervising The Cantos Project (general editor: Roxana Preda, University of Edinburgh), a multimedia source and annotation companion to Ezra Pound’s epic poem (www.cantosproject.org).  As such, I am responsible for annotating  and supervising the writing of glosses related to classical and medieval studies: languages, philosophy, religion and the occult. The website is an interactive space where scholars can upload essays, images and audio material, initiate discussion threads, communicate with other scholars and submit work in progress to peer review.

Key publications

Centaurs in the Twilight: W.B. Yeats's Use of the Classical Tradition, Amsterdam/Atlanta GA (Rodopi), 1993 

“’Between that Staring Fury and the Blind Lush Leaf’: William Butler Yeats and the Occult”, in: Leon Surette and Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos (eds), Literary Modernism and the Occult, Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1996, pp. 51-72 

“Tussen twee werelden: Derek Walcott’s Omeros en post-koloniale identiteit”, in: Theo D’haen en Peter Liebregts, red., Tussen twee werelden, Leiden: OTCZO (Semaian), 2001, pp. 173-95 

“Images of an Imaginist: Two Film Versions of Jane Austen’s Emma”, in Configuring Romanticism, red. Theo D’haen, Peter Liebregts en Wim Tigges, Amsterdam/New York (Rodopi), 2003, pp. 277-299 

Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism, Madison, NJ (Fairleigh Dickenson University Press)/ Londen (Associated University Presses), 2004 

Modernisme(n) in de Europese Letterkunde, 4 volumes, red. Jan Baetens, Sjef Houppermans, Arthur Langeveld, en Peter Liebregts, Leuven (Peeters) 2003-05; Amsterdam (Rozenberg) 2008-10

“’Ubi amor, ibi oculus est’: Ethiek en literaire vorm in J.M. Coetzee” (oratie), Leiden, 2008

“The Classics”, in Ezra Pound in Context, ed. Ira B. Nadel, Cambridge (Cambridge UP), 2010, pp. 171-80

“A Diasporic Straitjacket or Overcoat of Many Colours?: A Reading of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake”, in Writing India Anew: Indian English Fiction 2000-2010, eds. Krishna Sen and Rituparna Roy, Amsterdam (Amsterdam UP), 2012

The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, 3 vols, ed. Karla Pollmann, Willemien Otten, Peter Liebregts et al., Oxford (Oxford University Press), 2013

“T.S. Eliot and  W.B. Yeats”, and “Ezra Pound” in The Oxford History of the Classical Reception in English Literature, Vol. 5: 1880- , ed. Kenneth Haynes, Oxford (Oxford University Press), 2017 (forthcoming)

Teaching activities

I teach three courses for the BA programme English Language and Culture: “The Classical and Christian Legacies in Literatures in English” (a first-year course offering an introduction to classical mythology and philosophy, the Bible and Christianity, along with a selection of English-language texts from the Early Modern period until the present, illustrating the ‘afterlife’ of these traditions);  “Anglo-American Modernism” (third-year course); and “Contemporary Literatures in English” (third-year course).

For the MA-programme I have given courses on, inter alia, the work of J.M. Coetzee, on South African literature, on Anglo-Indian literature, on “The Long Modern(ist) Poem”, on Milton’s Paradise Lost and its influence on Romantic poetry, on Anglo-American Literature and Art in the Modernist Period, on James Joyce’s Ulysses, on W.B. Yeats, on Seamus Heaney, and on the Iliad and the Odyssey in modern literatures and films in English (e.g. Christopher Logue, Margaret Atwood, David Malouf, the Coen Brothers).

Student theses

I am interested in supervising BA and MA theses (as well as PhD theses) on

  • Literatures in English from ca. 1800 onward, with an emphasis on the Modernist period and on (Post)Modern/contemporary literature (particularly literary fiction [for example Henry James, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, William Faulkner, Evelyn Waugh, Flann O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Samuel Beckett,  Julian Barnes, J.M. Coetzee, Don DeLillo, Jhumpa Lahiri, Eleanor Catton, Donna Tartt, Philip Roth, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, David Mitchell, John Fowles, Colm Toibin, Joseph O’Connor, Ali Smith, Penelope Fitzgerald] and poetry [for example T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats, H.D., Wallace Stevens, W.H. Auden, W.C. Williams, James Merrill, Ted Hughes, Eavan Boland, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Anne Carson, Alice Oswald, Christopher Logue, A.E. Stallings]
  • The Nachleben (’afterlife’) of classical culture (Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, mythology) in modern English-language literatures/cultures
  • Film/TV adaptations of literary texts

I am happy to discuss potential thesis topics with interested students.

Examples of recent BA thesis topics:

  • “Nostalgia and Religion in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited
  • “From Pelion to Priam’s Palace: Exploring Achilles’ Divinity and Humanity in Contemporary Texts”
  • The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 Adaptation: An Analytical Comparison”

Examples of recent MA thesis topics:

  • “Suffering and Compassion in W.B. Yeats’s Early Lyrical Poetry”
  • “Facing the Bleakness: Death in Seamus Heaney’s Human Chain
  • “Epic Women: A Comparative Study of Appropriations of Homeric Helen and Penelope in Modern English Literature”

Curriculum Vitae

Peter Liebregts graduated in Classical Languages and Literatures at Utrecht University in 1986. He worked as a teacher of Latin and Greek at two secondary schools in Arnhem (1986-88), and obtained his PhD cum laude on the dissertation Centaurs in the Twilight: W.B. Yeats’s Use of the Classical Tradition at Leiden University in 1993. From 1993 to 1998, he worked as an NWO post-doc researcher on the monograph Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism, which in 2004 was awarded the Ezra Pound Society Prize. In November 2006, he was appointed as a Full Professor of Modern Literatures in English. During the academic year 2008-09 he was co-leader of the international research Theme Group “The (Post)Modern Augustine” at NIAS (Wassenaar), and was a contributor to and co-editor of the three-volume  The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (2013). He  is currently involved in the project The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, and in the Edinburgh- based The Cantos Project. He has a monograph in preparation on Ezra Pound’s versions of Sophocles.

Professor of Modern Literatures in English

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Engelstalige letterkunde

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number B1.20



  • Nederlands Letterenfonds Advies vertaling Engelstalige primaire/secundaire literatuur
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