Matthew Ritger

|Assistant Professor
Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of English and Creative Writing

I specialize in English literature and culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am particularly interested in connections between historical literature and its wider world, especially moments when renaissance poetry and drama helped to articulate alternative political ideas. I am currently working on a book about what writers such as Thomas More, William Shakespeare and John Milton had to say about England’s houses of correction, which were some of the early modern period’s first reformist prisons.

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Contact

Sanborn, Room 015
HB 6032

Department(s)

English and Creative Writing

Education

  • Ph.D. Princeton University
  • M.A. Princeton University
  • M.F.A. Cornell University
  • B.A. Dartmouth College

Works In Progress

Book Project

Making Correction: Literary Humanism and Carceral Institutions in Early Modern England

Beginning in the 1550s, institutions called houses of correction opened a new era in England's efforts to not only punish but reform the country's poorest and most criminalized subjects, centuries in advance of the penitentiary. Although houses of correction were often seen as cruel failures, nevertheless the ideas, arguments and stories they promoted about labor as a means of changing human behavior — what I call in this study the rhetoric of correction — proved an enduring success. By examining how writers including More, Shakespeare and Milton engaged with these institutions and their ideas, Making Correction constructs a cultural history of the humanist prison and workhouse over two early but crucial centuries. At the same time, the project revives "correction" as a third term for renaissance literary theory, as one of the period's most important but least studied means of literary justification, beyond the familiar commonplaces of instruction and delight.