Jack Stillinger has been a member of the English faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1958, and Center for Advanced Study Professor of English since 1970. He has published 25 books (monographs, textual studies, scholarly editions) and numerous articles and reviews, mainly on nineteenth-century English literature. His work in the 1960s included editions of J. S. Mill and William Wordsworth and a series of critical studies (collected in The Hoodwinking of Madeline, 1971) emphasizing the realistic, skeptical, essentially antiromantic tendencies of English Romantic poetry. In the 1970s he focused on the textual and publishing history of the writings of John Keats, producing first The Texts of Keats's Poems (1974) and then the currently standard Harvard edition The Poems of John Keats (1978) and several volumes devoted to Keats's manuscripts. In the 1980s he 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. The latest results of this project are books titled Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius (1991) and Coleridge and Textual Instability: The Multiple Versions of the Major Poems (1994). These are to be followed by a study of multiple interpretation tentatively titled Reading "The Eve of St. Agnes": The Multiples of Complex Literary Transaction.
Stillinger 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 Association's Distinguished Scholar Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.