Robert Clark was Reader in English at the University of East Anglia until 2012. He was brought up in England, Ireland and Germany in the 1950s and 1960s, and received his intellectual formation at Dulwich College. He therefore had the contradictory experience of being taught the merits of British imperialism via Caesar and Kipling at a time when Britain was losing its colonies to independence movements. He broke off studying medicine in May 1968 and for several years worked as Assistant Director of the Great Georges experimental community arts centre in Liverpool, directing "happenings" by Robert Rauschenberg and organising poetry readings by Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. He also worked as a free-lance photographer, made two documentary films, and trained as a bricklayer. This was, after all, the late 1960s! After his wanderjahren he studied European and American Literature at the University of Essex where he was inspired by the sociology of literature and Goethe's concept of weltliteratur. He went to the University of East Anglia in 1978 and taught English, American and French literature, history and social thought from the 1680s to the present.
In 1989, in response to the "Bruges speech" in which Mrs Thatcher trumpeted "Little Englandism", he decided to reaffirm Britain's European identity by founding a European Society for the Study of English with the support of his colleagues in the nascent Council of University English in the UK. He served as its Secretary until 1995, founding the European Journal for English Studies and The European English Messenger along the way. In 1989 he also began to be interested in information technology and since then has developed numerous database systems. The Literary Encyclopedia is therefore directed by a scholar who takes an intellectual interest in the logic of its applications and is deeply committed to internationalism in literary understanding. In 1994 he conceived and began developing The Annotated Bibliography for English Studies which was judged by the MLA one of the ‘outstanding publications of 1999’ and was published by Routledge until 2012. He served as its Editorial Director until 2003.
Robert Clark's publications on paper include History and Myth in American Fiction (1984); James Fenimore Cooper: New Critical Essays (1985); English Studies in Transition (1993), edited with Piero Boitani; the New Casebook on 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and Prejudice" (1994); and The Arnold Anthology of British and Irish Writing in English (1997), edited with Thomas Healy. He has also prepared editions of Austen, Fenimore Cooper and Defoe for Everyman Books and published essays on Fielding, Austen, Dickens, Henry James, Angela Carter and Michael Ondaatje, and edited a collection of essays on The Spectator for a special issue of Media History (14:3 December 2008). He is currently completing a critical monograph entitled Jane Austen: Transformations of Capital, which is an extensive study of how Austen's work is engaged with the shift from customary to free-market capitalism during the French wars.
Robert Clark has wide interests in the history of literature and of ideas, especially political theory and psychoanalysis, and has contributed numerous essays to The Literary Encyclopedia. He is also developing our companion site Mapping Writing (the current version of which is but a poor draft of what will come out in a second edition in 2013) and writing and lecturing about the representation of space and geography in literary texts. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1996 and a Foundation Fellow of the English Association in 2001. He served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the UK Humanities Hub (2000-2005) and has twice served on the Executive of the Council for College and University English in the UK. Since 2012 he has retired from teaching at UEA, where he continues as a Senior Fellow, and enjoys devoting yet more time to both the Encyclopedia and his own writing and research.