Richard Rambuss Professor of English

Before coming to Brown in the Fall of 2011, I taught at Emory for fifteen years, where I had a joint appointment in English and Comparative Literature and was Chair of the English Department.  In 2009, I was the visiting Hudson Strode Professor of Early Modern Studies at the University of Alabama.

I earned my BA at Amherst and my PhD in English from Johns Hopkins.  My edition of The English Poems of Richard Crashaw was published by the University of Minnesota Press in early 2014.  It is the first new critical edition of Crashaw's work in more than forty years.  I am also the author of Closet Devotions (Duke, 1998) and Spenser's Secret Career (Cambridge, 1993; paperback 2006).  My essays and reviews have appeared in ELH, Camera Obscura, SAQ, boundary 2, Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Quarterly, Exemplaria, and GLQ, in addition to many critical anthologies, including a piece on A Midsummer Night's Dream in Shakesqueer.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Editor of The English Poetry of Richard Crashaw, University of Minnesota Press, 2014

"Crashaw and the Metaphysical Shudder; Or, How to Do Things with Tears." Structures of Feeling in Seventeenth-Century Cultural Expression," ed. Susan McClary, University of Toronto Press, 253-71

"Milton's Adam," in Approaches to Teaching Paradise Lost, ed. Peter C. Herman, Modern Language Association of America, 2012, pp. 95-100

"Ecstasy and the Cosmopolitan Soul," Ut pictura meditatio: The Meditative Image in Northern Art, 1500-1700, ed. Walter Melion, Ralph Dekoninck, and Agnes Guiderdoni-Bruslé, Brepols Publishers, 2012, pp. 425-446

"Crashaw's Style," in Redrawing the Map of Early Modern Catholicism, ed. Lowell Gallagher. University of Toronto Press, 2012, pp. 132-58

"After Male Sex," in After Sex? On Writing Since Queer Theory, ed. Janet Halley and Andrew Parker. Duke University Press, 2011, pp. 192-204

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," in Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Madhavi Menon. Duke University Press, 2011, 234-44

"The Straightest Story Ever Told," GLQ 17.4 (2011): 543-73

"Sacred Subjects and the Aversive Metaphysical Conceit: Crashaw, Serrano, Ofili," ELH 71.2 (2004): 497-530

"What It Feels Like For a Boy: Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis," in A Companion to Shakespeare's Works, Volume IV: The Poems, Problem Comedies, Late Plays,, ed. Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard. Blackwell, 2003, pp. 240-59

"Spenser and Milton at Mardi Gras: English Literature, American Cultural Capital, and the Reformation of New Orleans Carnival." boundary 2 27.2 (2000): 45-72

"Machinehead." Camera Obscura 42 (1999): 96-123

Closet Devotions. Duke University Press, Series Q, 1998

Spenser's Secret Career. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture, 1993 (paperback edition, 2006)

research overview

My principal historical field is sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature and culture. I'm most interested in Milton, Shakespeare, Spenser, and the metaphysical poets (especially Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw); devotional texts and images; and the Baroque. I also works on film and photography. Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Lynch, along with war films, sports films, and detective films, are a particular focus. Questions about gender, sexuality, and desire--particularly male desire--tend to preoccupy me, whether I'm studying movies or Renaissance poetry.

research statement

My scholarship moves back and forth between the Renaissance and contemporary culture. One of the ways in which these concerns come together is in my abiding interest in the "afterlife" of Renaissance writers and texts. I'm currently writing a book called "Mardi Gras Milton" about the English literary traditions that inform nineteenth- and twentieth-century New Orleans Mardi Gras pageantry. It begins with the first of New Orleans's secret Carnival societies: the "Mistick Krewe of Comus," which pointedly took its name from Milton's masque. Its inaugural parade in 1857 was titled "The Demon Actors in Paradise Lost." Elaborate parades dedicated to Spenser, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tennyson, Byron, and other English authors followed in later years.

I'm also working on a book called "Kubrick's Men" about masculinity in extremis in Stanley Kubrick's films and photography.