In the 1980s Professor Stillinger launched a large theoretical and historical project on the nature of authorship to consider such basic questions as how and why writers write; how they develop; and how they interact with editors, publishers, and other collaborators. Results of this project are the books: Reading “The Eve of St. Agnes”: The Multiples of Complex Literary Transaction (1999); Coleridge and Textual Instability: The Multiple Versions of the Major Poems (1994); and Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius (1991). His most recent work is Romantic complexity: Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth (2006).
His earlier scholarship includes editions of J.S. Mill and William Wordsworth and a series of critical studies, collected in The Hoodwinking of Madeline (1971), emphasing the realistic, skeptical, essentially antiromantic tendencies of English Romantic poetry. He has also explored the textual and publishing history of John Keats, producing first The Texts of Keat’s Poems (1974) and then the definitive Harvard edition The Poems of John Keats (1978) and several volumes devoted to Keat’s manuscripts. He has published 28 books, numerous articles and reviews mainly on nineteenth-century English literature, and a collection of his poems, Nina and the Balloon (2008). He has held fellowships and awards from, among others, the Woodrow Wilson and Guggenheim foundations, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the national Endowment for the Humanities and was the 1986 recipient of the Keats-Shelley Associations’s Distinquished Scholar Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.