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English, General Literature and Rhetoric

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headshot of John Kuhn

John Kuhn

Assistant Professor

English, General Literature and Rhetoric


Kuhn's research focuses on seventeenth-century Anglophone literature and culture, broadly defined. He is working on a monograph, tentatively entitled Making Pagans: Theatrical Practice and Comparative Religion in Early Modern England, which examines the connections between the spectacular staging of "pagan" rituals, both Amerindian and ancient, in public theater plays and the developing study of comparative religion in seventeenth-century England. This is based on his dissertation, which won an Honorable Mention for the J. Leeds Barroll dissertation prize from the Shakespeare Association of America in 2017.

In addition to this book, he is working on several smaller projects, including a cultural and material history of the hammock's first century in Europe and a piece on the ubiquitous trope of death by "broken heart" in seventeenth-century drama.

Kuhn also has an abiding interest in the poetry of George Herbert and its religio-political contexts. He has published on Herbert's work and the poverty crisis in Wiltshire from 1629-1631, as well as on his relationship to contemporary arguments that connected English colonial expansion to the imminent arrival of the millennium. In collaboration with Lindsay Gibson, he is currently working on a third article, which deals with an idiosyncratic, neglected, and politically fascinating early Latin manuscript translation of his most apocalyptic and surreal poem, “The Church Militant," as well as a solo piece on Herbert's reception by mid-seventeenth century irenicist thinkers.


  • PhD,Columbia University
  • BA, University of Kansas (summa cum laude)

Research Interests

  • 16th- and 17th-century English literature and history

Teaching Interests

  • Drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • Seventeenth-century poetry
  • Literature and history of early European expansion into the Atlantic

Last Updated: 3/8/18