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Dr Helen Boyles

Helen Boyles

Profile summary

  • Honorary Associate
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Art His, Class St, Eng&CW, Mus
  • English & Creative Writing
  • h.m.boyles

Professional biography

I am an Honorary Associate in the Department of English with the Open University, and have worked, since 2002, as an Associate Lecturer on various undergraduate courses in the Arts and Language faculties at the University.

In 2000 I gained an MA through the OU on ‘The Eighteenth-century Novel’, and in 2012 completed a PhD on the complex discourse of ‘enthusiasm’ within the context of Methodism and literary Romanticism. I explored the embarrassment generated for literary and religious advocates by the controversial connotations of enthusiasm in its historical association with excitability and extremism.

My adapted PhD, under the title of Romanticism and Methodism: the Problem of Religious Enthusiasm, is being prepared for publication later this year by Taylor and Francis.

Society membership and conference participation

My interest in the field of literary Romanticism has been developed through active membership of associations such as The Friends of Coleridge and the Wordsworth Winter Conference where I have regularly given papers and chaired lectures at the societies’ annual conferences.

Current and developing Research Interests

I am currently embarking on a new project examining the walking/rambling of the women related to leading male Romantic writers and walkers. As a very keen long-distance walker – and creative writer – myself, I look forward to exploring the relationship of female walking to creativity and liberation on a number of levels. Subjects will include William Hazlitt’s wife, Sarah Stoddart, and the daughters of writers within the Lake Circle.

I have become interested in the current ecological perspective in literary studies and recently prepared a comparative analysis of the human-animal relationships explored through the symbolism of Coleridge’s albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and that of Melville’s whale in ‘The Whiteness of the Whale’ chapter in Moby Dick.

Creative writing

I have always enjoyed writing poetry, and besides publication in reputable anthologies over many years, I have recently had a small collection, ‘Catching Light’ published by Indigo Dreams Press (IDP). I am currently preparing another collection on the theme of transition. I regularly participate in public readings and workshops and am joint chairman of the Devon-based Moor Poets which has several successful publications to its name.


In addition to Open University events and venues, these include:

‘Hazlitt’s gendered distinction between gusto and enthusiasm’, and

‘The Embarrassment of Methodist Enthusiasm in Wordsworth’s Peter Bell.
in the English Faculty at Oxford University

‘Visions of Fatherhood in Coleridge’s Early and Late Poetry’
at The Friends of Coleridge Autumn Weekend Conference.

Each has also been published as an essay in related publications.

Other lecturing venues include Warwick University, and I am currently preparing a paper for a conference at Durham University on correspondences between the principles informing John Wesley’s Preface to the collected Hymns, and Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads.

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