I am interested in the Renaissance as a transitional period in which old epistemic unities are broken up into new, distinct endeavors of knowledge and practice. My research investigates how authors effected and experienced these changes. I am especially interested in how religious ideals and practices participate in the transformations of the period – how they at times fuel, and at times resist secularization. Much of my work concentrates on the intersection between literature and religious practice, in particular on the relationship between prayer, meditation, spiritual exercises and poetry. I have published on religious and secular concepts of attention, on apocalypse as a literary and political figure, and on philosophy of history and comparative literature. My first book Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention (Chicago, 2016) reads John Donne's Holy Sonnets as a site where the bonds between premodern devotional, literary, and philosophical investments in attentiveness become visible. The question of when and why prayer requires attentiveness has led me to my current project, which focuses on prayer in the aftermath of the Reformation.
Research Expertise and Interest
drama, Renaissance literature, early modern literature, poetry