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Dr Vladimir Brljak

Associate Professor

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the Department of English StudiesRoom A62b, Elvet Riverside 
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


I joined the Department in 2018, having previously studied at the Universities of Zagreb (BA) and Warwick (PhD), and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge (Thole Research Fellow, Trinity Hall).


I work mainly on English literary and intellectual history, 1500-1700, with wider interests in the long history of poetics and hermeneutics, and the literary and cultural history of space and space exploration. I have published in leading journals in the field; held visiting fellowships at the Bodleian Library, Huntington Library, and the Warburg Institute (forthcoming, 2022-23); and given invited talks at Zagreb, Cambridge, Stanford, Warwick, Birmingham, NYU, and York.

Topics of particular interest include:

Allegory. My doctoral work was on on allegory in English literature and literary theory of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and I am now completing a monograph consolidating my research in this field. I also continue to be involved in projects exploring wider perspectives on the subject, most recently in editing Allegory Studies: Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, 2022), a volume collecting new work on the subject across a range of disciplines and specializations in the humanities and cognitive sciences.

History of Literary Criticism. Another long-term project is a new account of English literary criticism of the earlier seventeenth century. This is a lost age in the history of the subject, typically presented as a dormant interlude between a waning Renaissance and a dawning Restoration, rather than a productive epoch in its own right. Based on ongoing archival research, the project recovers this lost age and reassesses its contribution to literary and intellectual history.

Poetics before Modernity. Relating to this interest is Poetics before Modernity (2016-), a project aimed at rethinking the history of literary criticism in the West and its neighbouring traditions from Greco-Roman antiquity to the Enlightenment, which I convene with Dr Micha Lazarus (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and an international team of colleagues working across the premodern period. The project organizes events in the field and publishes Sources in Early Poetics (Brill, 2021-), the first edition and translation series devoted to primary sources in premodern literary thought. Other publications emerging from the project include two collections co-edited with Dr Lazarus: 'Artes poeticae': Formations and Transformations, 1500-1650, a special issue of Classical Receptions Journal (2021), and Poetics before Modernity: Literary Theory in the West from Antiquity to 1700 (OUP, forthcoming).

Milton. Another long-term interest is the work of John Milton. Much of my current Miltonist research revolves around the idea of Paradise Lost as a work of seventeenth-century 'science fiction', an interest which also informs the special topic module 'Paradise Lost' as Science Fiction (ENGL3731). My article 'The Satanic "or": Milton and Protestant Anti-Allegorism' was awarded the Review of English Studies Essay Prize (2015), and was included in the journal's virtual issue celebrating the 350th anniversary of the first publication of Paradise Lost (1667).

When did space turn dark? A new project, which I will be developing as a Frances A. Yates Long-Term Fellow at the Warburg Institute in 2022/23, explores the shift in the Western cosmological imagination from a bright to a dark universe.

PhD Supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in the following aspects of English literary and intellectual history, c.1500-1700: allegory and related topics; history of literary criticism; the work of John Milton; topical and satirical elements in the popular drama.

Esteem Indicators


Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Edited Journal

  • Brljak, Vladimir & Lazarus, Micha (2021). Artes poeticae: Formations and Transformations, 1500-1650. Classical Receptions Journal, 13 (1): Oxford University Press.

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Brljak, Vladimir (2018). Personification and Allegory: Selves and Signs.


  • Brljak, Vladimir (2021), When Did Space Turn Dark?, NYU Space Talks. New York University.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2020), Milton and the Space Age: Premodern Universes and Modern Readers, British Milton Seminar. University of Birmingham.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2020), From Everyman to Hamlet: A Distant Reading, Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies Seminar. University of Birmingham.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2019), Milton and the Space Age: Premodern Universes and Modern Readers, 12th International Milton Symposium. Strasbourg.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2018), Roundtable participant, 'What Now for Allegory Studies?', 64th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America. New Orleans.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2018), Classical Myth in English Poetics after 1600, 8th Biennial Conference of the Society for Renaissance Studies. University of Sheffield.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2018), Inventing Renaissance Poetics: Modernity, Allegory, and the History of Literary Theory, Workshop in Poetics. Stanford University.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2018), Dead Water in English Criticism: Tradition and Innovation from Bacon to Dryden, STVDIO. Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2017), The Critical Fantasies of Philip Kinder, 63rd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America. Chicago.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2016), Allegorical Poetics in England after 1600: Fishing in the Dead Water, Renaissance Graduate Seminar. Faculty of English, University of Cambridge.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2016), (Neo)allegory and (Anti)modernity, Redefining Allegory. Queen Mary University of London.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2016), Hamlet in 1603 (series of three public lectures: 'Hamlet in Heaven', 'Hamlet in Purgatory', 'Hamlet in Hell'), Shakespeare Lives. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2015), '[S]ome shadowe of satisfaction': Bacon's Poetics Revisited, 61st Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America. Humboldt University, Berlin.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2014), '[T]he causes and obiects of delectation': An Unpublished Essay on Poetic Theory by Kenelm Digby, 6th Biennial Conference of the Society for Renaissance Studies. University of Southampton.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2014), Satan's Allegories and Milton's Epics, 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America. New York.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2013), Allegory and Modernity in English Poetics, c.1570-1630: Locations and Dislocations, Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association. University of Toronto.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2013), The Age of Allegory: A Medievalist Myth and Its Legacy, The Middle Ages in the Modern World. University of St Andrews.
  • Brljak, Vladimir (2012), The Mouth of Hell: Hamlet, 1.5.2-91, Arts Faculty Seminar. University of Warwick.

Supervision students