Tom Owens's research interests lie predominantly in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature. His first book, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and ‘the language of the heavens’ (OUP, 2019) explored some of the exultant visions inspired by William Wordsworth’s and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s analogical imaginations. It examined the scientific patterns that the poets discovered in the world as they came to understand consciousness and cognition through highly self-conscious acts of invention, and includes chapters on: geometry and cartography; nature (representations of the Moon) and natural history (studies of spider-webs, streams, and dew); calculus and quaternions; and infra-red and ultraviolet light.
Other recent work was on: the integrity of prose style (in writers such as Richard Hooker, Thomas Browne, Joseph Addison, Edmund Burke, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge); Jonathan Swift and Matthew Arnold; and Gerard Manley Hopkins. He is thinking about writing a book on the relationship between storytelling and fantasy in the nineteenth century.
Recent selected articles include:
‘Hopkins’s Kestrel: Drafting “The Windhover,” 1877-1884’, Victorian Poetry, 57.1 (2019), 43-72.
‘Coleridge and “the general taste for unconnected writing”’, The Review of English Studies, 70.293 (2019), 111-34.
‘Wordsworth’s and Southey’s Translations of Michelangelo, 1805-6’, Modern Language Notes, 132.1 (2017), 68-75.
‘“Sweetness and Light” from Swift to Arnold’, The Review of English Studies, 68.283 (2017), 99-122.
‘Coleridge’s Parentheses and the Question of Editing’, Essays in Criticism, 64.4 (2014), 373-93.
‘Coleridge, Nitric Acid and the Spectre of Syphilis’, Romanticism, 20.3 (2014), 282-93.
‘Wordsworth, Galignani, and the Aesthetics of Piracy’, The Library, 12.1 (2011), 23-36.
Other articles have appeared in Notes and Queries; The Book Collector; The Coleridge Bulletin; and The Wordsworth Circle.