Christopher Martin

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Professor; Director of Graduate Admissions

BA, St. Joseph’s
MA, PhD, University of Virginia


Room 344
617-358-2542
For CV click here

My scholarly work in European Renaissance literature has come to focus particularly on age studies or “literary gerontology”: how old age was understood, misunderstood, and depicted in early modernity, amid the intergenerational politics that shaped period attitudes. My latest book, Constituting Old Age in Early Modern English Literature, from Queen Elizabeth to King Lear, contests traditional presumptions that late life was then dismissed as little more than a time of withdrawal and preparation for death, through close rereading of such Elizabethan authors as Spenser, Sidney, Ralegh, Shakespeare, Donne, and the queen herself. I am in the process of extending these findings into the subsequent reigns of the Stuart monarchs, a time when old age would attain even greater prominence in literary, philosophical, and scientific discourse even as it confronted a growing tide of ageist prejudice. An abiding interest in lyric poetry’s societal contexts, which steered my first book Policy in Love: Lyric and Public in Ovid, Petrarch, and Shakespeare, also informs another current book project, tentatively titled “Poems for Men,” on how male English poets of the seventeenth century found themselves obliged to conceive their art’s “masculine line” anew in the presence of an emerging company of publishing female writers.

The opportunity to field seminars and survey courses in all these topics has provided a valuable classroom platform for testing out my ideas on the aggressively curious students I have known since arriving at BU in 1987. Outside the units in Shakespeare and early British literature that I regularly teach, my own humanist infatuation with classical culture finds an outlet in our survey of European authors from Homer to Dante and grounds my (favorite) course in the history of western literary criticism. Throughout, our students’ healthy eagerness to meet the challenges presented by this material—which demands rigorous engagement with often radically alien ways of thinking—continues to inspire my teaching and writing.

Selected Publications
  • “‘The world can be judge’: Edmond Molyneux, Philip Sidney, and the Sublimation of Enmity,” Sidney Journal 34 (forthcoming 2016)
  • “‘Parole estreme’: Canzoniere 126,” Approaches to Teaching Petrarch’s Canzoniere and the Petrarchian Tradition (2014)
  • Constituting Old Age in Early Modern English Literature, from Queen Elizabeth to King Lear (2012)
  • “Lyric Poetry,” The Classical Tradition (2010)
  • “Translating Ovid,” The Blackwell Companion to Ovid (2009)
  • “Sidney’s Exemplary Horse Master and the Disciplines of Discontent,” Renaissance Historicisms (2008)
  • “Fall and Decline: Confronting Lyric Gerontophobia in Donne’s ‘The Autumnall’,” John Donne Journal 26 (2007)
  • “The Breast and Belly of a Queen: Elizabeth After Tilbury,” Early Modern Women 2 (2007)
  • “Made plaine by examples: Parceling Philip Sidney in Abraham Fraunce’s Arcadian Rhetorike,” Sidney Journal 24 (2006)
  • Editor, Ovid in English (1998)
  • Policy in Love: Lyric and Public in Ovid, Petrarch, and Shakespeare (1994)
  • “Retrieving Jonson’s Petrarch,” Shakespeare Quarterly 45 (1993)
  • “Turning Others’ Leaves: Astrophil and the Experience of Defeat,” Spenser Studies 10 (1992)
  • “Flecknoe’s Cabinet and Marvell’s Cankered Muse,” Essays in Criticism 40 (1990)
  • “Misdoubting His Estate: Dynastic Anxiety in Sidney’s Arcadia,” English Literary Renaissance 18 (1988)
  • “A Reconsideration of Ovid’s Fasti,” Illinois Classical Studies 10 (1985)
Work in Progress
  • A book project entitled “Outliving the Fashion: Arts of Aging in Seventeenth-century Literature”
  • A book project entitled “Poems for Men: Gender Dynamics in the Secular Lyrics of Seventeenth-Century England”
  • Articles on Spenser, Jonson, and the contemporary novelist William T. Vollmann
Honors, Grants, and Awards
  • Jeffrey Henderson Research Fellowships (2009-10 and 2016-17)
  • NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship (2005–08)
  • NEH Scholarly Publications grant for Policy in Love (1994)
  • Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowships (Summer 1992, 1995)
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