Episode 68: The Poetry of Jonathan Swift with Steve Karian


In this episode, I speak with Stephen Karian, renowned scholar of 18th century British literature, on the poems of Jonathan Swift, the promise and perils of satire, and the pleasures of reading profane poetry written by one of the great Divines.  I hope you enjoy our conversation.

You can read some of the poems we discuss on Poetry Foundation.


Dr. Stephen Karian is Professor and Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair of English at the University of Missouri. Many of Karian’s publications focus on Jonathan Swift, including his book Jonathan Swift in Print and Manuscript, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. His articles have appeared in SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Studies in Bibliography, Huntington Library Quarterly, and elsewhere. With James Woolley, he is finishing an edition of Swift’s complete poems in four volumes for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift being published by Cambridge University Press. He is also co-editor of the Swift Poems Project, which manages an electronic archive of textual information related to Swift’s poetry. Both projects were supported by a Fellowship and a Scholarly Editions Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; publicity about these projects appears herehere, and here.

He has begun working on a new project, editing Alexander Pope’s miscellany poems and uncollected verse for the Oxford Edition of the Writings of Alexander Pope being published by Oxford University Press. For this project he has received another Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is Secretary/Treasurer of the Johnson Society of the Central Region.


Jennifer A. Frey is the inaugural dean of the Honors College at the University of Tulsa, with a secondary appointment as professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy and religion. Previously, she was an Associate Professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina, where she was also a Peter and Bonnie McCausland faculty fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to her tenure at Carolina, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and a junior fellow of the Society for the Liberal Arts.

She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and her B.A. in philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. In 2015, she was awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the John Templeton Foundation, titled “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life,” She has published widely on virtue and moral psychology, and she has edited three academic volumes on virtue and human action. Her writing has been featured in First Things, Image, Law and Liberty, The Point, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.  She lives with her husband and six children in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is on X @jennfrey.

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