This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.
“Biblical Readers and Renaissance Writers: Politics, Hermeneutics, and Literary Culture from Erasmus to Milton” (NEH, 2015–2016)
Following the models of Tyndale and Erasmus, major writers of the English Renaissance frequently turned from reading and commenting on scripture to write political literature. My book project, Biblical Readers and Renaissance Writers, focuses on the practical and hermeneutic methods that informed this turn from reading to writing, and how literature engaged these methods. Looking closely at the annotations of Erasmus, Tyndale, and the immensely popular Geneva Bible, among others, my project traces the effect of biblical reading habits on the production of literary texts, such as Erasmus’s Education of a Christian Prince and his Annotations on the New Testament, Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man, the work of Martin Bucer and English Bishops under Edward VI, the writings of Knox, Gilby, and other Genevan exiles during the reign of Mary I, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, and Milton’s prose tracts, psalm translations and Paradise Lost. I propose a new understanding of biblical interpretation and literary production, one that expands the practices of what we understand as “literalism” by exploring the actual interpretative habits of readers during the period. My research at the Folger will largely focus on reconstructing a practice-based history of biblical reading and reuse, looking not only at printed annotations such as those in the Geneva Bible, and other English Bibles, but also at manuscript annotations in Bibles and biblical literature, and at commonplace books that record passages from biblical and theological reading.