Steven Zwicker

Professor of English
Adjunct Professor of History
Stanley Elkin Professor in the Humanities
PhD, Brown University
BA, University of California, Los Angeles
research interests:
  • Early Modern Literature
  • Book History
  • Literature and Politics
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1122
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Zwicker is the author or editor of numerous works on Andrew Marvell and John Dryden. His recent interests include the habits and protocols of reading in early modern England, the history of aesthetics, and early modern biography.

    Zwicker has long been a leader in establishing interdisciplinary teaching and research programs in the humanities, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has collaborated extensively with historians of early modern England. 

    Professor Zwicker - together with colleagues in the Department of History - created the Literature and History Program in Arts and Sciences in 1976, in which he has co-taught seminars since its inception.

    Personal Statement

    I was born and grew up in Los Angeles. Since my undergraduate days at UCLA I have been interested in what we now call "early modern literature," especially literature of the English civil war years and Restoration (c. 1640-1700). My graduate work was directed by Barbara Lewalski at Brown University and I began teaching at Washington University, St. Louis in 1969. At the time, John Pocock taught the history of political thought at Washington University and I received what I thought of then, and continue to think of, as a crucial postgraduate education in his seminars. Pocock's work in the history of political thought opened for me a way to understand relations between politics and literary culture, and I have worked along that axis for a number of years, writing on Marvell, Milton, and Dryden, and, more broadly, on Restoration culture and politics. My recent interests include the habits and protocols of reading in early modern England, the history of aesthetics, and early modern biography, and again with an aim of situating all of these cultural institutions and practices within political and social history. At Washington University I hold the Stanley Elkin Professorship in the Humanities and am Professor of English and Adjunct Professor of History. I direct the Literature and History Program; the Mellon Postdoctoral Program, "Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry"; and the Mellon Summer Dissertation Seminar Program. I have directed research seminars at the Folger Shakespeare Library; held a visiting professorship at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan; held research awards from NEH, ACLS, the Taft Foundation, the American Bibliographical Society, and the Mellon Foundation; visiting research appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Clark Library, and the Huntington Library, and in the spring of 2003 was British Academy Visiting Lecturer at the Universities of Liverpool and Aberdeen. Monographs and edited volumes: The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden, ed. (forthcoming, 2004); Reading, Politics, and Society in Early Modern England, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (2003); John Dryden: A Tercentenary Miscellany, ed. (2001), The Selected Poems of John Dryden, ed. with David Bywaters (2001); Refiguring Revolutions: Aesthetics and Politics from the English Revolution to the Romantic Revolution, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (1998); The Cambridge Companion to English Literature: 1650-1740, ed. (1998); Lines of Authority: Politics and English Literary Culture, 1649-1689 (1993); Politics of Discourse: The Literature and History of Seventeenth-Century England, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (1987); Politics and Language in Dryden's Poetry: The Arts of Disguise (1984); Dryden's Political Poetry: The Typology of King and Nation (1972).

    Awards

    • Endowment Challenge Grant and Bridge Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Modeling
    • Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” December 1, 2004, for bridge period 2006-2008 [Challenge fulfilled 2007]
    • British Academy Lecturer, University of Liverpool and University of Aberdeen, April 1-15, 2003
    • Endowment Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Washington University Dissertation Seminars, 2002
    • [Challenge fulfilled 2002]
    • Program Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” a Postdoctoral
    • Program in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Washington University, 2001-2006
    • Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1999-2000
    • Director, Mellon Dissertation Seminars, Washington University, summers 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2007
    • Director, NEH Summer Institute, Folger Shakespeare Library, summer 1997
    • Folger/NEH Fellow, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1994-1995
    • Clark Library Fellow, Clark Library, Los Angeles, California, summer 1994
    • American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant, summer 1994
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Fellow, 1992
    • Co-Director, with Derek Hirst, Folger Institute Seminar, Folger Library fall term 1991
    • Huntington Library Fellow, Huntington Library, San Marino, California, 1987-1988
    • American Bibliographical Society Fellow, Beinecke Library, summer 1986
    • Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, Visiting Member and NEH Fellow, 1981-1982
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Program Grants for Literature and History, 1976-1981
    • Mellon Fellow, Clark Library, Los Angeles, California, fall semester 1976
    • Renaissance Institute Fellow, Duke University, summer 1974
    • Taft Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati, 1970-1971
    • NDEA Title IV Fellow, Brown University, 1966-68
    • Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Brown University, 1965-1966, 1968-1969
    • Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Los Angeles, 1965
    • B.A., summa cum laude, University of California, Los Angeles, 1965

    Courses

    • L14 2151: Literature in English: Early Texts and Contexts
    • L14 4621: Topics in English Literature: John Milton: Regicide, Radical, and Epic Poet
    • L14 3322: Reading in the Renaissance: Texts and Practices
    • L14 515: Seminar: The Seventeenth Century: The Restoration
    Writing Lives: Biography and Textuality, Identity and Representation in Early Modern England

    Writing Lives: Biography and Textuality, Identity and Representation in Early Modern England

    Biography appears to thrive as never before; and there clearly remains a broad readership for literary biography. But the methods and approaches of recent criticism which have contributed rich insights and asked new questions about the ways in which we interrogate and appreciate literature have scarcely influenced biography. Biography as a form has been largely unaffected by either new critical or historical perspectives. For early-modern scholars the biographical model, fashioned as a stable form in the eighteenth century, has been, in some respects, a distorting lens onto early-modern lives. In the Renaissance and early-modern period rather the biography's organic and developmental narratives of a coherent subject, lives were written and represented in a bewildering array of textual sites and generic forms. And such lives were clearly imagined and written not to entertain or even simply to inform, but to edify and instruct, to counsel and polemicize. It is only when we understand how early moderns imagined and narrated lives, only that is through a full return to history and an exact historicizing, that we can newly conceive the meaning of those lives and begin to rewrite their histories free of the imperatives and teleologies of Enlightenment.

    The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden

    The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden

    This collection of essays offers a variety of perspectives on John Dryden's work and its contexts. A towering literary figure in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Dryden authored a series of highly successful plays and poems, in addition to influential essays of literary criticism.

    The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740

    The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740

    This volume offers an account of English literary culture in one of its most volatile moments, when literature was enmeshed with the extremes of social, political and sexual experience. Newly-commissioned essays make use of current critical perspectives in order to offer new insight into the literature of Restoration and early eighteenth-century England in all its variety, from vitriolic satire to heroic verse. The volume's chronologies and select bibliographies will guide the reader through texts and events, while the fourteen essays commissioned for this Companion will allow us to read the period anew.

    The Cambridge Companion to Andrew Marvell

    The Cambridge Companion to Andrew Marvell

    Andrew Marvell is one of the greatest English lyric poets of the seventeenth century and one of its leading polemicists. This Companion brings a set of fresh questions and perspectives to bear on the varied career and diverse writings of a remarkable writer and elusive man. Drawing on important new editions of Marvell's poetry and of his prose, scholars of both history and literature examine Marvell's work in the contexts of Restoration politics and religion, and of the seventeenth-century publishing world in both manuscript and print. The essays, individually and collectively, address Marvell within his literary and cultural traditions and communities; his almost prescient sense of the economy and ecology of the country; his interest in visual arts and architecture; his opaque political and spiritual identities; his manners in controversy and polemic; the character of his erotic and transgressive imagination and his biography, still full of intriguing gaps.

    Dryden’s Political Poetry: The Typology of King and Nation

    Dryden’s Political Poetry: The Typology of King and Nation

    Andrew Marvell, Orphan of the Hurrican

    Andrew Marvell, Orphan of the Hurrican

    Andrew Marvell, Orphan of the Hurricane studies the poetry and polemics of one of the greatest of early modern writers, a poet of immense lyric talent and political importance. The book situates these writings and this writer within the patronage networks and political upheavals of mid seventeenth-century England. Derek Hirst and Steven Zwicker track Marvell's negotiations among personalities and events; explores his idealizations, attachments, and subversions, and speculate on the meaning of the narratives that he told of himself within his writings -- what they call his 'imagined life'. Hirst and Zwicker draw the figure of an imagined life from the repeated traces Marvell left of lyric yearning and satiric anger, and suggest how these were rooted both in the body and in the imagination.