Dr. Murray Evans


Murray Evans Title: Professor, English

Research Interests:

Dr. Murray Evans has taught at the University of Winnipeg since 1982. He was a Bye Fellow at Robinson College Cambridge (1986-87) and a Visiting Fellow at St. John’s College, University of Manitoba (2015). His work in late medieval literature and manuscripts has investigated the shifting boundaries between the religious and the so-called secular in Thomas Malory’s King Arthur stories, and in manuscript collections compiling Middle English romances with religious texts (“Selected Publications” below: Rereading Middle English Romance, 1995). His work on William Langland’s visionary allegory Piers Plowman, which some medievalists call sublime, led to new research on the sublime in Romantic author Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s later prose in the 1820s—particularly in the Opus Maximum (Sublime Coleridge, 2012). He is currently writing a new monograph on how Coleridge’s theory and discursive practice of the sublime intervenes in more recent treatments of the sublime (Adorno, Kristeva, Žižek, Jameson). He complements his scholarly/theoretical work with analysis and performance of Romantic piano texts by Chopin, Brahms, Scriabin, and Rachmaninoff.

This latest research addresses the sublime, typically involving experiences of the vast and indistinct in nature, religion, art, and music—the allure of that which is in excess of sensory experience and which crosses and moves boundaries of discourse. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was a Trinitarian Christian who almost became a Unitarian minister, a thinker who condemned Spinoza’s writings as atheistic while still loving them deeply, and an avid consumer and purveyor of the German Higher Criticism over which many Victorians would later lose their faith. These polarities in Coleridge of the religious and the secularizing provide an apt historical case study in his deployment of sublime discourse. Such discourse offers his readers complex reconfigurations of their subject positions and of the objects of his discussion (e.g., church and state). Coleridge’s theory and practice of the sublime, moreover, can intervene in more current and often (apparently) more secular treatments of the sublime in the work of Jacques Rancière and others. Evans’s work thus joins “interdisciplinary scholarship in the last decade … that suggests that the secular is not simply a neutral, areligious space” (CLASS home website).


In press. “Sublime Discourse and Romantic Religion in Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection.” For The Wordsworth Circle, editor Marilyn Gaull.

“Coleridge’s Sublime Hermeneutics in Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit.” The Coleridge Bulletin New Series 45 (NS) (Summer 2015): 39-44.

Sublime Coleridge: The Opus Maximum. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

“Coleridge as Thinker: Logic and Opus Maximum,” The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Frederick Burwick. London & New York: Oxford UP, 2009. 323-41.

“Reading ‘Will’ in Coleridge’s Opus Maximum: The Rhetoric of Transition and Repetition,” in Jeffrey Barbeau, ed., Coleridge’s Assertion of Religion: Essays on the Opus Maximum. Studies in Philosophical Theology. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2006. 73-96.

"Coleridge's Sublime and Langland's Subject in the Pardon Scene of Piers Plowman," in From Arabye to Engelond: Medieval Studies in Honour of Mahmoud Manzalaoui on His 75th Birthday, eds  A.E. Christa Canitz and Gernot R. Wieland.  Ottawa: Actempress, University of Ottawa, 1999. 155-74.

"Piers Plowman and the Sublime." Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 9 (1997): 421-40.

Rereading Middle English Romance: Physical Layout, Decora­tion and the Rhetoric of Composite Structure in Some Late Medieval Manu­script Collections.  Montreal & Kingston, London, Buffalo: McGill-Queen's Uni­versity Press, 1995.

"'Making Strange': The Narrator (?), the Ending (?), and Chau­cer's Troilus," reprinted in C. David Benson, ed. Criti­cal Essays on Chau­cer's 'Troilus and Criseyde' and His Major Early Poems. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1991. 164-75.

"C.S. Lewis' Narnia Books:  The Reader in the Myth," in Touch­stones:  Reflec­tions on the Best in Children's Litera­ture, vol. I, ed. Perry Nodelman.  Children's Literature Asso­ciation Publications, 1985.  132-45.

"Ordinatio and Narrative Links:  The Impact of Malory's Tales as a "hoole book,'" in Studies in Malory, ed. James W. Spisak.  Kalamazoo, Mich.:  Medieval Institute Publications, 1985.  29-52.

"Camelot or Corbenic?:  Malory's New Blend of Secu­lar and Religious Chivalry in the 'Tale of the Holy Grail,'" English Studies in Canada 8 (1982):  249-61.