Addiction and Devotion in Early Modern England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). 265 pp.
This book illuminates a previously-buried conception of addiction, as a form of devotion at once laudable, difficult, and extraordinary, that has been concealed by the persistent modern link of addiction to pathology. Surveying sixteenth-century invocations, this monograph reveals how early moderns might consider themselves addicted to study, friendship, love, or God. However, it also uncovers their understanding of addiction as a form of compulsion that resonates with modern scientific definitions. Specifically, early modern medical tracts, legal rulings, and religious polemic stressed the dangers of addiction to alcohol in terms of disease, compulsion, and enslavement. Yet the relationship between these two understandings of addiction was not simply oppositional, for what unites these discourses is a shared emphasis on addiction as the overthrow of the will.
Etymologically, “addiction” is a verbal contract or a pledge, and in the sixteenth century addiction stood as a form of devotion. Even as audiences actively embraced addiction to God and love, writers warned against commitment to improper forms of addiction, and the term becomes increasingly associated with disease and tyranny. Examining canonical texts including Doctor Faustus, Twelfth Night, Henry IV, and Othello alongside theological, medical, imaginative, and legal writings, this book traces the variety of early modern addictive attachments. Although contemporary notions of addiction seem to bear little resemblance to its initial meanings, this study argues that the early modern period’s understanding of addiction is relevant to our modern conceptions of, and debates about, the phenomenon.
King Richard III: Language and Writing (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2018). 186 pp.
A new type of study aid which combines lively critical insight with practical guidance on the critical writings skills students need to develop in order to engage fully with Shakespeare’s texts. The book’s core focus is on language: both understanding and enjoying Shakespeare’s complex dramatic language, and expanding the student’s own critical vocabulary as they respond to the play. The book explores several different approaches to Shakespeare’s language. It looks at how the subtleties of Shakespeare’s language reveal the thought processes and motivations of his characters, often in ways those characters themselves don’t recognise; it analyses how Shakespeare’s language works within or sometimes against various historical contexts, the contexts of stage performance, of genre and of discourses of his day (of religion, law, commerce, and friendship); and it explores how the peculiarities of Shakespeare’s language often point to broad issues, themes, or ways of thinking that transcend any one character or line of action. Each chapter includes a “Writing Matters” section, giving students ideas and guidance for building their own critical response to the play and the skills to articulate it with confidence.
Treason by Words: Literature, Law and Rebellion in Shakespeare’s England (Cornell University Press, 2006) (Paperback Edition: Dec 2007). 234 pp.
Under the Tudor monarchy, English law expanded to include the category of “treason by words.” This book investigates this remarkable phrase. In doing so, the book establishes how English citizens expressed competing notions of treason in opposition to the growing absolutism of the monarchy. Analyzing texts surrounding the Earl of Essex’s 1601 rising and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, including writings by John Donne, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare, the book argues that the articulation of diverse ideas about treason within literary and polemical texts produced increasingly fractured conceptions of the crime of treason itself. Further, literary texts, in representing issues familiar from political polemic, helped to foster more free, less ideologically rigid, responses to the crisis of treason. As a result, such works of imagination bolstered an emerging discourse on subjects’ rights. Treason by Words offers an original theory of the role of dissent and rebellion during a period of burgeoning sovereign power.
TLS: Times Literary Supplement (May 4, 2007) TLS review
Modern Philology review TBW review
Editor, Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature, with Christopher Rowland, Emma Mason, and Jonathan Roberts (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2009) (Paperback edition, 2012), 703 pp.
The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature offers a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary examination of the Bible’s role and influence on English Literature, from Old English poetry through to T. S. Eliot. Including examples from medieval, early-modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic, Victorian, and Modernist literature, the book demonstrates how writers from across these periods have been influenced by the Bible in their work.The Companion builds on an existing body of criticism committed to recovering the doctrinal and faith commitments of individual writers, by turning instead to their uses of the Bible as a shared textual focus. This attention to text (rather than belief) means that many ‘secular’ or ‘anti-clerical’ writers are included alongside their ‘Christian’ contemporaries, revealing how the Bible’s text shifts and changes in the writing of each author who reads and studies it.
Associate Editor, Blackwell Encyclopedia to English Renaissance Literature, with Alan Stewart and Garrett Sullivan, general editors; and Nicholas McDowell and Jennifer Richards, associate editors (Oxford: Blackwell Press, 2011).
This three-volume, million-word encyclopedia offers accessible entries on canonical writers, key texts, genres, and literary debates. At the same time, it opens up the canon on several fronts, most notably by revising the terms “English” and “Literature.” As well as covering canonical English writers, the volumes include those who migrated to and wrote in the New World; and religious nonconformists writing in exile in Europe. Importantly, contributors consider the works of great English writers through the lens of their international experience. Attention is paid to the substantial Latin output of English writers, and to important English translations of classical and European works. The volumes thus complicate a simplistic conception of a native literary tradition and foreground the transatlantic and international dimensions of English literary production.
Select Recent Articles
(Please see c.v. for a full list of publications)
“Scholarly Addiction: Doctor Faustus and the Drama of Devotion,” Renaissance Quarterly 69.3 (Fall 2016): 865-98. Winner of the Roma Gill Prize, awarded by the Marlowe Society of America.
“Sacking Falstaff,” Culinary Shakespeare, eds. Amy Tigner and David Goldstein (Duquesne Press, 2016): 113-134.
“Incapacitated Will,” Staged Transgression: Performing Disorder in Early Modern England, eds. Rory Loughnane and Edel Semple, Palgrave Shakespeare Studies series (Palgrave Press, 2013): pp. 170-192.
“Compulsory Conviviality in Early Modern England,” English Literary Renaissance 43.3 (September 2013): 381-414. Winner of the PCCBS Biennial article prize, 2015.
ELR article.Lemon (download here)
“Players Club,” Lapham’s Quarterly, special issue on Intoxication (Winter 2013), pp. 200-208.
LQ final.Lemon (download here)
“Shakespeare and Law,” The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare, ed. Arthur Kinney (Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 548-64.