Department of English

Dr Toby Davidson

Toby DavidsonPosition: Senior Lecturer
Contact Details
Office: W6A 637
Phone: 61-2-9850 6792
Fax: 61-2-9850 6593



BA Hons (UWA), PhD (Deakin), GradCert.Ed. (Higher Ed.) Macq




Toby Davidson is an Australian poetry researcher, critic, writer, facilitator and editor. His research interests include the internationalisation of Australian literature and literary criticism, twenty-first-century considerations of Western Christian mysticism or its poetics, and digital cartographies of public commemoration of writers. He is especially interested in supervising MRes or PhD theses on Australian poetry, Australian literature (including film) and twentieth-century Anglo-American metaphysical and postcolonial literatures.

Toby is the English Department's Internationalisation Representative. He was selected to represent the Faculty of Arts in a Macquarie University delegation to Jilin University, China, and more recently to Hamburg University, Germany, for a threefold workshop with Fudan University (Shanghai, China) which resulted in a successful trilateral conference at Fudan 'Modernisms and Modernities, East, West and South: Comparing Literary and Cultural Experiences'. Toby has also secured funding from the New Colombo Plan to allow undergraduate semester exchanges for Macquarie students in the Asia-Pacific. In 2014, he was a keynote speaker at Victoria University's 2014 'Truth or Beauty: Verse Biography' conference in Wellington, New Zealand.

Locally, Toby conceived and convened the English Department's 2013 early career researchers conference 'Australian Literature: The Road Ahead' which led to a special Australian literature edition of the refereed journal New Scholar (3.2, 2014). He was also the 2013-14 John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Visiting Scholar and invited speaker at the 2015 Prime Ministers Seminar at Old Parliament House. His research into Prime Minister Curtin's life with poetry is the subject of the forthcoming book Good for the Soul: Poetry for John Curtin (University of Western Australian Publishing, 2018).

Toby's critical study Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry (2013) is the fifth book in the acclaimed Cambria Australian Literature Series with Susan Lever, Bernadette Brennan, Brigitta Olubas and Michael Ackland. This unprecedented study of Australian Christian mystical poetry 1820-2010 has a particular focus on Ada Cambridge, John Shaw Neilson, Francis Webb, Judith Wright and Kevin Hart, praised by David Malouf as 'A study, at once comprehensive and finely discriminating ... [which] sets Australian poetry in an entirely new light.' It was shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) Walter McRae Russell Award for the best book of literary scholarship on an Australian subject in the preceding two years.

Toby is also the editor of Francis Webb Collected Poems (2011), which restores one of Australia's most acclaimed poets to print and for the first time into e-book format. This publication has been recommended by Copyright Australia Ltd (CAL) as one of their 'First 200' books to be read in Australian literature. Toby continues to run the annual Francis Webb Willoughby Library Reading, a community event which brings together poets, scholars, artists and high school students from Webb's former schools of St Pius X College and CBHS Lewisham. Toby has collaborated with the Department of International Studies to translate Webb's poems into Italian in the prestigious Rivista di Studi Italiani and he has lectured on Webb in London, Toronto and Hong Kong. Further research collaborations on the digitizing of literary urban spaces with the Department of Geography and Planning and the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies have secured funding from a Macquarie University Research Development Grant (MQRDG) to create a mapped database of these spaces entitled Words in Place: A Digital Cartography of Australian Writers and Writing in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra (2015,

Toby's articles appear in refereed journals Literature and Theology (Oxford Journals), Rivista di Studi Italiani, Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature, Journal of Australian Studies, JASAL, Biography, E-rea, Island and Westerly as well as in Contemporary Literary Criticism (Gale Group, 2012) and The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (2013). He is a founding editor of the journal New Scholar: An International Journal of the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences and a member of ASAL (Association for the Study of Australian Literature), AAALS (American Association of Australasian Literary Studies), CAL (Copyright Australia Ltd), CHASS (Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) and the Australian Poetry Centre. His poetry has appeared three times in Black Inc's acclaimed Best Australian Poems series, with his debut collection Beast Language described by CAL Chair of Poetry Robert Adamson as 'A wondrous achievement ... with a lyrical alertness and visionary pitch that is thrilling to read.'



Selected publications

  • 2018    Good for the Soul: John Curtin's Life with Poetry (forthcoming - UWA Publishing, Perth)
  • 2013    Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry  (Cambria Press, New York)
  • 2012    Beast Language (Five Islands Press, Melbourne)
  • 2011    Editor, Francis Webb Collected Poems (UWA Publishing, Perth)


Book Chapter
  • 2018    'Philip Salom: Feeding Time to the Contemporary' in David Musgrave and Andy Kissane (eds), Feeding the Ghost: Contemporary Australian Poetry (forthcoming - Puncher and Wattmann, Glebe)    
  • 2009    'John Shaw Neilson' in Stephen Grimwade (ed), Literary Melbourne: A Celebration of Writing and Ideas, Hardie Grant, Melbourne, 2009:124-127


Journal Articles
  • 2017    with John Potts, 'Words in Place: Mapping Australian Literature'. E-rea: revue électronique d'études sur le monde Anglophone 14.2: 1-16 
  • 2016    'The Master and the Mask: Francis Webb's Verse Biography', Biography 39.1: 45-63
  • 2014    with Michael Austen, 'Australian Literature: Gathering Reflections on the Road Ahead', New Scholar 3.2: 1-4
  • 2013    'Introduction to Francis Webb' (translated by Gianluca Alimeni), Rivista di Studi Italiani 31.1: 828-831
  • 2013    'Francis Webb and the 1960s', Antipodes 27.1: 19-24
  • 2012    'Francis Webb's America', Antipodes 26.2: 189-194
  • 2012    'An Entangled Kind of Haunting: Judith Wright and Uncanny Australia', Contemporary Literary Criticism (Gale Group) 326
  • 2011   'Breath, Laughter, Creation: Launches, Reviews and Errata for Francis Webb Collected Poems', Island 126: 132-138
  • 2011   'Frameworks of the Mystical in Australian Colonial and Post-Federation Poetry' Journal of Australian Studies 35.3: 389-405        
  • 2010   'Ada Cambridge: Pioneer of Australian Mystical Poetry', Antipodes 24.1: 27-34
  • 2010  'Beyond Reach of Language: Kevin Hart and Christian Mysticism', Literature and Theology (Oxford Journals) 24.1:271-284
  • 2010 '2011: A Year of Francis Webb', Five Bells 17.4: 129-131
  • 2010  '"I Can't Believe an Australian Wrote This": The Return of Francis Webb', Blast Poetry and Critical Writing 141-47
  • 2009  'John Shaw Neilson: "Something of a Mystic"' JASAL (Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature) 9,
  • 2008  'Francis Webb in Western Australia', Westerly 53 (November): 115-126


  • ENGL106  Literature and the Screen
  • ENGL120  Approaches to English Literature
  • ENGL205  Australian Literature
  • ENGL209  Children's Literature
  • ENGL308 Australian Fiction in the Digital Age
  • ENGL389 Textual Practices



  • Faculty of Arts International Engagement Committee
  • Convenor of ENGL205 Australian Literature
  • Convenor of ENGL308 Australian Fiction in the Digital Age