J. B. Lethbridge

For the last 20 years I have been teaching at Tübingen University, in the English Seminar.

My literary interests are in Poetry, Renaissance literature, particularly and a bit relentlessly in Edmund Spenser; Classics, in particular Homer, and among other things, the classics of English Prose (with an inclination to historical and critical prose), writers such as Raleigh, Gibbon, Dr Johnson, Hume, Arnold, Newman. The poets I return to most steadily are Homer, Dante, Milton, Pope and Wordsworth.

My Philosophical interests are in Ethics, Aesthetics and Epistemology and in the history of philosophy. My main philosophical aim is to write an Ethics, situating the abstract philosophy in the concrete world of actual human action, living, getting on in and with the world and society and with and among the people who make it up. However, practical circumstances, including the need to defend what one does, have wrested my attention to the great, simple and severe questions of Epistemology.

My Theological interests are older than the others, though now inseparable from each other, Theology was my first love and my first education and it will be my last. I am reversing the direction of handmaidenliness between theology and philosophy: in the Mediaeval period it was Philosophy who was said to be the handmaid of Theology; I am working out what happens when we say that Theology can be and should be the handmaid of Philosophy. Part of that is to apply theological methods to philosophy. My main reading is in Twentieth Century and contemporary German Theology, with a slight emphasis in intensity on Catholic theology, and a slight emphasis in quantity on Protestant Theology, and a slight emphasis all told on what comes or came from the Tübingen schools. When life gets too much and one’s soul panics, I retreat to Mediaeval Theology, repetitively to Anselm and Thomas.

In all three of these fields of interest, which are really one interest in the books of human thought and feeling, I am interested in the history of the subject.

Other than that – there isn’t much, nor is there meant to be. I consider myself fortunate to have lived a scholarly life among books.


PhD English Literature, Cambridge (Magdalene College)
Thesis: Evidence and Textuality: History and Modern Literary Criticism
MA Philosophy, London (Birkbeck College)
Thesis: Aesthetic and Historical Criticism
MPhil English Literature, Dundee
Thesis: God in the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Since 1993
Lecturer, English Language and Literature,
University of Tübingen, Germany

Visiting appointments

Visiting Fellow, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Visiting Scholar, Aberdeen University
Distinguished Visiting Rivers Professor, East Carolina University


General Editor: The Manchester Spenser.
A monograph and text series devoted to Edmund Spenser, his life, his works, and his circle.
Published by Manchester University Press
(International) Editor, Explorations in Renaissance Culture
Book Reviews Editor, Spenser Review