Bristow, Joseph

Distinguished Professor

Kaplan 264
Tel: 310.825.4173 / Fax: 310.267.4339 / E-mail


BA (London) MLitt (Stirling) PhD (Southampton)

Professor Joseph Bristow, who joined UCLA in 1996, teaches a range of courses in Victorian and modern literature, as well as in theories and histories of sexuality. His areas of special interest are British aestheticism (particularly Oscar Wilde and his circle), decadence, and early twentieth-century writing.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he published extensively on Victorian poetry; his publications from these decades include Nineteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology (co-edited with Isobel Armstrong and Cath Sharrock) (1996, revised 1998), which has helped reshape the study of women’s writings of the late Romantic and Victorian eras. At the same time, he established fresh research in the emerging field of LGBT literary studies, including the edited collection, Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing (1992), Effeminate England: Homoerotic Writing after 1885 (1995), and Sexuality (1997, second edition 2010) in the New Critical Idiom series from Routledge.

During the present century, Professor Bristow has continued his research on Victorian poetry. His publications in this field include The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry (2000) and The Fin-de-Siècle Poem: English Literary Culture and the 1890s (2005).

Since joining UCLA, Professor Bristow has been closely involved with scholarly activities related to William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. During 1999-2000, in his role as Clark Professor, he arranged the programs of four conferences, which led to the publication of the essay collection, Wilde Writings: Contextual Conditions (University of Toronto Press, 2003). Selections from the 2004 conference, “Wilde at 150,” formed the basis of another collection, Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend, which Ohio University Press issued in early 2009. In 2005, Oxford University Press published his variorum edition of Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Two years later, Oxford published his edition of the 1891 text of this novel in the World’s Classics series In 2013, University of Toronto Press published his third edited collection of critical essays on Wilde: Wilde Discoveries; Traditions, Histories, Archives. In March 2015, Yale University Press published a study (coauthored with Rebecca N. Mitchell), Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery, which takes Wilde’s “Chatterton” notebook as the starting-point for considering Thomas Chatterton’s cultural and poetic legacy, on the one hand, and Wilde’s interest in producing a history of literary Romanticism, on the other hand.

In 2007, Professor Bristow directed “The Wilde Archive”: a five-week summer seminar for both university and college teachers sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This seminar led to the conference of the same name, which was hosted at the Clark Library in 2009. In 2009, Professor Bristow directed a second NEH summer seminar, “The Decadent 1890s,” at the Clark Library. A third NEH-sponsored seminar, “Oscar Wilde and His Circle,” took place at the Clark Library during late June and July 2012. He has also taught several graduate and undergraduate courses based on researching the Clark’s Wilde-related collections.

At present, Professor Bristow continues his responsibilities as editor of Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture, which was established in 2003; by the end of 2019 the series will contain more than seventy-five titles. Further information about the series can be found at

Some of his more recent essays—on lyrics about the lesbian boy, on Wilde’s poetry, and on the aesthetic novel—have appeared in Victorian Poetry, Wilde in Context (Cambridge University Press), and The Cambridge History of the Modernist Novel, respectively. He is the coeditor (with Josephine McDonagh) of an essay collection, Nineteenth-Century Radical Traditions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). He has also edited Oscar Wilde and the Cultures of Childhood (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Professor Bristow has recently completed for Yale University Press a reconstruction of the two criminal trials that resulted in Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. Parts of this research have already appeared in Feminist Theory. In 2016-2017, he was on sabbatical leave, supported by an ACLS collaborative research award, which enabled him to research his contribution to the Oxford University Press edition of Wilde’s unfinished and miscellaneous writings. He is editing, too, Walter Pater’s unpublished essays for Oxford University Press. Since spring 2018, he had been a joint editor of Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism, the journal of the International Walter Pater Society (

Since joining UCLA, Professor Bristow had organized many conferences at the Clark Library. The most recent ones include the International Walter Pater Society’s “Curiosity and Desire” symposium in May 2018. He is also involved in organizing the programs for “Oscar Wilde, Sexuality, and the State,” scheduled for May 2020, and  “Oscar Wilde’s Modernist Legacies” (January 2021).

Professor Bristow has advised many doctoral candidates at UCLA. He is currently serving as chair or co-chair of several dissertation committees. His recent advisees have researched the following topics: women and aestheticism in Modernist fiction; evolutionary aestheticism; tourism in Romantic and Victorian writing; and debates about standardization in children’s literature, 1865-1955.

Interest Areas
• Sexuality & Gender Studies
• British Literature & Culture, 19th C. – Present