Jonathan Allison

  • Professor of English
  • English
  • Social Theory
1323 Patterson Office Tower
(859) 257-6961
Other Affiliations:
  • W.B. Yeats International Summer School
  • University Press of Kentucky
  • University of Kentucky Libraries National Advisory Board
Research Interests:

BA, PGCE Queen's University, Belfast
MA, PhD University of Michigan, Ann Arbor



Areas of Specialty:

  • Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
  • Modernism
  • Poetry
  • Irish and Scottish Studies
  • Textual Studies


Jonathan Allison specializes in modern British and Irish literature and culture. His main research interests are in modern poetry, especially W.B. Yeats and the Revival, the Auden generation (especially Louis MacNeice), and Irish writing since 1939.  He regularly teaches courses on twentieth-century fiction and poetry, and the British Literature Survey.

Allison's annotated edition of Letters of Louis MacNeice (Faber and Faber, 2010) was named a 2010 'Book of the Year' by the Times Literary Supplement. You can listen to a review of Letters of Louis MacNeice on RTE Radio, here: Off the Shelf (April 2011.) In 2014, he gave the BBC Louis MacNeice Memorial Lecture at Queen's University, Belfast. He is currently preparing a Louis MacNeice Chronology in the Palgrave Macmillan Author Chronologies series, and an edited volume for the Scribner Collected Works of W.B.Yeats. He is hosting the Southern Regional meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies at the University of Kentucky in March 2017.

He has edited several volumes of essays, including Yeats's Political Identities (University of Michigan Press, 1996), Poetry and Contemporary Culture, with Andrew Roberts (Edinburgh University Press, 2002) and Bound for the 1890s (Rivendale Press, 2007). His essays have appeared in Critical Survey, Sewanee Review, South Atlantic Review, Yearbook of English Studies, Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies, and other journals and collections. He worked as an editorial assistant with the London Review of Books and he has twice been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh. A former Director of the W. B. Yeats International Summer School, Sligo, he contributed to and appeared in the documentary film The Passions of William Butler Yeats (2007), produced by Lucasfilm. He has served as Interim Director of the University Press of Kentucky and is Chair of the Editorial Board of the University Press. He was formerly general editor of the book series Irish Literature, History and Culture

Selected Publications: 



  • (Editor) Letters of Louis MacNeice. London: Faber and Faber, 2010. xlvii + 768pp.
  • (Editor) Bound for the 1890s: Essays on Writing and Publishing in Honor of James G. Nelson. Foreword by G. Thomas Tanselle. High Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2006. 204pp
  • (Co-editor with Andrew Roberts) Poetry and Contemporary Culture: the Question of Value. Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press, 2002. xi + 250pp
  • (Editor) Poetry for Young People: William Butler Yeats. Illustrations by Glenn Harrington. New York: Sterling, 2002. 50pp
  • (Editor) Yeats's Political Identities. University of Michigan Press, 1996. viii + 352pp
  • Patrick Kavanagh: A Reference Guide. Foreword by Maurice Harmon. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996. xxviii + 220pp

Selected Articles

Doctoral dissertations supervised

  • Sarah Jane Stafford: George Eliot’s Rewriting of Sir Walter Scott (2003)
  • Elizabeth Tashery Shannon: Tree and Gyre: Yeats’s Poems, Occultism and A Vision (2005)
  • Charles Hampton Poff: Truths Universally Acknowledged: the Problem of Romantic Education (2007)
  • George Phillips: Seeing Subjects: Recognition, Identity, and Visual Cultures in Literary Modernism (2011)
  • Leah Hutchison Toth: Resonant Texts: Sound Revolutions in Technology and Modern Literature (2016)

Recent courses taught

  • Poetry and Modernism, 1900-1945 (740)
  • Contemporary British Poetry and Culture Since 1950 (642)
  • Modernism and Ireland (642)
  • Bibliography and Textual Studies (600)
  • Yeats and Joyce (481G)
  • British Writers of the Thirties (481G)
  • Modern British Poetry (481G)
  • Scottish Literature (481G)
  • Irish Literature (481G)
  • British Fiction Since 1950 (481G)
  • The Swinging Sixties (440G)
  • Modernism (349)
  • Elegy and Love Poetry (345)
  • Ulysses in Context (330)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four in Context (330)
  • Survey of English Literature II (242)
  • The Thistle and Shamrock: Scotland, Ireland and America (230)

Exhibitions at Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries (curated by Jonathan Allison and James Birchfield)

On Letters of Louis MacNeice

"Jonathan Allison’s splendid and masterfully edited Letters of Louis MacNeice….”--Times Literary Supplement

"A meticulous and penetrating edition”--Books of the Year 2010, Times Literary Supplement

“This marvelous edition of his letters reminds us of MacNeice’s originality and independence from his schooldays onwards.”--Financial Times

“Edited with great helpfulness as well as careful scholarship … it puts a lot of flesh on the bones of relationships that are visible in the poems.”--The Guardian

“These letters, meticulously edited and annotated by Jonathan Allison, add up to an invaluable resource for MacNeice scholars and an engrossing, if intermittent, personal and political commentary.”--The Independent

"I have always loved MacNeice and secretly want to spend all my time teaching him to students. This is an amazing volume, in which the author speaks in all his humane complexity." --Times Higher Education Supplement

"It would be difficult to overstate [MacNeice's] current significance. In the last 20 years there has been a burgeoning of academic attention...culminating in the appearance of his letters, weighing in at a substantial 768 pages."--London Review of Books

“This selection (skillfully compiled and scrupulously edited by Jonathan Allison) is an indispensable guide to the preoccupations and passions, travels and tribulations of a greatly gifted writer, a man of wide and lively interests who listed Tintoretto, tennis, large dogs, rugby and Constantinople among his ‘likes’.”--Irish Times

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