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 or drama helped to articulate alternative political ideas. I am currently working on a book about what writers such as 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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Sanborn, Room 015
HB 6032


English and Creative Writing


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

Works In Progress

Book Project

Objects of Correction: Literary Humanism and Carceral Institutions in Early Modern England

Centuries in advance of the penitentiary, institutions called houses of correction opened a new era in England's efforts to not only punish but reform. 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 enduringly influential. By examining how writers including More, Shakespeare and Milton engaged with these institutions and their ideas, Objects of 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 term for renaissance literary theory, as one of the period's most distinctive but least studied means of literary justification, beyond the familiar commonplaces of instruction and delight.