Ph.D., Northwestern University
I specialize in early modern British literature (c. 1500-1680), and particularly in this literature’s engagements with contemporary history, religion, and politics. My 2007 book Liturgy and Literature is about the consequences of the English Reformation and the Book of Common Prayer for national and individual identity, and for later texts by Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, and Hobbes. My second book (Theology and Agency in Early Modern Literature, nominated for the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize) extends my prior interests in the dynamics of internal and external authority by addressing theological problems of agency—that is, the nature and limits of humans' capacity for autonomous will and action—in works by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Kyd, Donne, and Milton, as well as theologians from Augustine to Calvin, and philosophers from the Stoics to Harry Frankfurt.
In my teaching, I like to spread myself around a bit. I teach Intro to Poetry, Intro to Drama, and History of British Literature to the general university population; courses on epistemology, ethics, poetry, and Shakespeare for the University Honors Program; upper level classes on Shakespeare, Renaissance poetry and drama, and Milton for English majors; and, for our PhD program, seminars on agency, Reformation theology, early modern historiography, and literary criticism.
What else do I do? I serve on graduate exam and dissertation committees, and on various departmental and university ones. I’m President of the SMU Faculty Senate for AY2019-20. I give talks on my research and teaching at national conferences. I advise undergrad and graduate students. I read and evaluate manuscripts for Cambridge, Routledge, Palgrave, Notre Dame, and Penn. I teach at our graduate revision and publication workshop in Taos. I help our PhDs find jobs. I cook, read, hike, play music with my family, pet my dog. All in all pretty good existence.
- History of British Literature
- Intro to Literature
- Understanding and Doubting (Honors)
- The Ethical, the Catastrophic, and Human Responsibility (Honors)
- Intro to Poetry
- Intro to Drama
- Non-Shakespearean Drama
- Renaissance Writers: Donne, Milton, Herbert
- Shakespeare and Early Modern Historiography
- Early Modern Theology and Literature
- Renaissance Agencies
- Reading Lyric Poetry
- Road Narratives from Homer to Kerouac
- Theology and Agency in Early Modern Literature.Cambridge University Press, 2018.
- “The British Survey as Pedagogical Training and Job Credential.”In Lang, Dujardin, and Staunton, eds., Teaching the Literature Surveys (WVUP, 2017).
- “Devotion.”In Lee, ed., A Handbook of English Renaissance Studies (Blackwell, 2017).
- “Authority, Religion, and the State.” In Hiscock and Wilcox, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion (Oxford UP, 2017).
- “Agency and Ethics in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy.” Early Modern Literary Studies 18.2 (2015).
- “Wrong Turns in Donne’s ‘Goodfriday, 1613’.” John Donne Journal 32 (2013).
- “Book of Common Prayer.” Blackwell Encyclopedia of Renaissance Literature (2012).
- Liturgy and Literature in the Making of Protestant England. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- "Milton, Hobbes, and the Liturgical Subject.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (SEL), 44:1 (2004).
- “Sacral and Sacramental Kingship in Shakespeare’s Lancastrian Tetralogy.” In Shakespeare and the Culture of Christianity in Early Modern England, ed. Taylor and Beauregard (Fordham UP, 2004).
- “‘Fiery toungues’: Language, Liturgy, and the Paradox of the English Reformation.” Renaissance Quarterly 54.4 (2001).