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Work in Progress and in Process


Here's a link to an essay on public universities, access, and graduate study in the Humanities, from Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/opinion/views/2023/12/04/other-access-conversation-were-not-having-opinion


Here's a link to a new essay on the sonnet, at Aeon magazine:




My new book, Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History, is now out from Zone Books and has been widely

reviewed in the Guardian, Spectator, etc.
My 2019 book Bob Dylan:  How the Songs Work, is now out from Zone Books in paperback. 

I have just finished the manuscript of Trespassing:  A Memoir about Poverty, Poetry, and American Education, which I am preparing for eventual publication.

I'm also working on a book about Leonard Cohen and another book on Dylan, called Bob Dylan and American Memory.

Recently out.


"Reasons to be Cheerful," in Aeon.


"Sancho's Fortune:  Money and Narrative Truth in Don Quixote"  MLN, Spring 2021.


"Baroque Diplomacy," in Oxford Handbook to the Baroque, edited by John Lyons, 2019. 


"The Early Novel and the Transmission of Culture," with Linda Louie, in the Oxford Handbook to the Novel in French, edited by Adam Watt, 2019. 


"Distinguished Visitors."  in Cultures of Diplomacy and Literary Writing in the Early Modern World, edited by Joanna Craigwood and Tracey Sowerby, Oxford University Press, 2020. 


"Close Encounters: Literary Monstrosity and Corporeal Knowledge in Early Modern France." Spring 2017 issue of ALTER on monstrosity and disability studies.

"Michel de Montaigne: Philosophy Before Philosophy," A History of Modern French Literature, edited by Christopher Prendergast. Princeton University Press.

"In the Shadow of War: Tragedy, Diplomacy and the Poetics of the Truce." In "Soft Power and Theater in the Early Modern Period," edited by Nathalie Riviere de Carles.

"Virgil in India: Epic and Military Strategy in the Lusiads." MLN, spring 2016.

"Michel de Montaigne: Philosophy as Improvisation." Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisational Studies, edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut.

"Colonies Without Colonialism: Territory, Population, and Literature from Foucault to Montaigne." In Humanism/Anti-Humanism, edited by Jan Miernowski.

"La foi des traités: Baroque History, International Law, and the Politics of Reading in Corneille's 'Rodogune.'" Yale French Studies, 124, "Walter Benjamin's Imaginary French Trauerspiel," edited by Katherine Ibbett and Hall Bjornstad. A study of the peace treaty as a problematic text in early modern political culture.

Literature and Nation in the Sixteenth Century: Inventing Renaissance France

A study of the literary representation of national community in early modern France. The book studies the intersection between debates about French identity and Christian identity and a series of literary encounters between the French and the non-French "Other" (Turks, Americans, Italians, etc.). The topic of community is understood as a problem of literary genre; crisis of community is depicted in literature through moments of generic breakdown or transformation. Detailed studies of works by, among others, Rabelais, Montaigne, Du Bellay, Marguerite de Navarre, and Corneille. Winner of the Scaglione Prize of the MLA for the best book in French and Francophone Studies. (Cornell University Press, 2000).

Fictions of Embassy: Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe

This book is the first full-scale study of the relationship between the rise of modern diplomacy in the Renaissance and the emerging world of secular literature. Studies of such authors as Montaigne, Shakespeare, Racine, Machiavelli, Tasso, and Camoens, as well as major thinkers in the development of diplomacy. (Cornell University Press, 2010).

Bob Dylan: How the Songs Work

Study of Dylan's achievements as an artist of song, focusing on the intersection of lyrics and music.

Writing from History: The Rhetoric of Exemplarity in Renaissance Literature

A study of the Renaissance reception of classical historical models and their value as exemplars of prudent political and moral action. This book is a study both of the uses of history in the Renaissance, and of the intersection between historical thinking and the rise of modern literature. Studies of such authors as Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Tasso, Cervantes, and Erasmus. (Cornell University Press, 1990).
Winner of the Bainton Book Prize for the best recent work in Renaissance Studies