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 (and films) in English 

  • The Nachleben of classical culture in modern English-language literatures/cultures 


In my research on the Nachleben of classical culture in Modern(ist)/contemporary English-language literatures/cultures, 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. Besides a variety of articles (see Publications), I published three monographs on this particular topic. Centaurs in the Twilight: W.B. Yeats and the Classical Tradition (1993) does not restrict itself to an intertextual classification of the traces of the classical tradition in Yeats’s work, but also describes 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 extensive interest in the occult. Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism (2004), based on extensive archival research, offers an analysis of Ezra 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. Translations of Greek Tragedy in the Work of Ezra Pound (2019) takes a detailed philological approach to Pound’s appropriation and translation of Greek tragedy and contextualises his versions with regard to his biography and output, particularly The Cantos. This study makes use of Pound's personal annotations in his Loeb edition of Sophocles, his unpublished correspondence with classical scholars such as F. R. Earp and Rudd Fleming, as well as manuscript versions and other as-yet-unpublished drafts and texts which illuminate his working methodology.  

Between 2005 and 2013 I was involved in the international research project “After Augustine: A Survey of His Reception from 430 to 2000”, led by prof. Karla Pollmann, 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, inter alia, “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.  

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 from a Global Perspective. During the academic year 2008-09 he was co-leader of the international research Theme Group “The (Post)Modern Augustine” at NIAS (Wassenaar). He is currently involved in the Edinburgh-based The Cantos Project, and is in the early stages of researching and writing a monograph on 21st-century female poets and their appropriation of the classics.  

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 
“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 
Translations of Greek Tragedy in the Work of Ezra Pound (London/ New York: Bloomsbury), 2019  

“Ezra Pound”, in The Oxford History of the Classical Reception in English Literature, Vol. 5: after 1880, ed. Kenneth Haynes (Oxford: Oxford UP), 2019, pp. 358-399.  

“W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot”, in The Oxford History of the Classical Reception in English Literature, Vol. 5: after 1880, ed. Kenneth Haynes (Oxford: Oxford UP), 2019, pp. 226-266.  

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 Literay Studies 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 William Shakespeare and Antiquity, on Milton’s Paradise Lost and its influence on Romantic poetry, on James Joyce’s Ulysses, on W.B. Yeats, on Seamus Heaney, on Stanley Kubrick, and on the Iliad and the Odyssey in 21st-century texts and films in English. I also take part in the team-taught MA courses on “European Modernism”, “Literature and Social Class: 1800 to the Present”, and “Literary Adaptation from Shakespeare to Osofisan”. 

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, Ali Smith] 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, Derek Mahon, 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” 

  • “No alternative routes, only unavoidable fates”: The Limitations of Geographical Space in Zadie Smith’s NW and Swing Time  

Examples of recent MA thesis topics: 

  • Facing the Bleakness: Death in Seamus Heaney’s Human Chain  

  • Why Could You Not Just Stay Silent?: Feminist Revisionist Mythmaking in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Madeline Miller’s Circe  

  • Intervening Bodies: Disability, Queerness, and Crip Theory in Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill, Mrs. Dalloway, and Orlando  

Examples of finished and current PhD theses: 

  • “Religious Conversion in Early Modern English Drama”  

  • “’This is Roosevelt’s World’: FDR as a Cultural Icon in American Memory”  

  • “From Monsters to Mediators: The Evolution of the Theme of Altruism in Early Robotic Science Fiction Texts” 

  • “The Poet and the Underworld: Metaliterary Katabasis in Eavan Boland’s The Journey, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, and Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills” 

  • “When Gael Transforms Greek: The Reception of Antigone and Medea in Ireland and the Transformative Potential of Classical Reception” 

  • “’A Weird Punk Underground Spirit’: A Dark Ecology of Modern Anglophone Poetry” 

  • “The impact of translation choices on the representation of female and racial stereotypes: close readings and reader reception studies of Dutch (re)translations of canonical literary works.” 

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
  • Nederlands Letterenfonds Advies vertaling Engelstalige primaire/secundaire literatuur
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