Currently, I read, write, and teach at Clemson University. My research focuses on early modern literature, theology, and gender and I’m currently working on my monograph, Preacher-Poets: Sermons and Gender in Early Modern Literature. I teach classes in writing and British literature. When not researching and teaching, I enjoy the outdoors and co-editing a literary magazine, S/WORD.
Preacher-Poets uses poems, dramatic texts, and personal stories written by early modern English Protestants to show how sermons influenced early modern culture beyond the boundaries of theology and spirituality. I demonstrate how the sermon genre actually informed and influenced the poetic works of canonical “preacher-poets” such as George Herbert, John Donne, and John Bunyan alongside the devotional writings of lesser studied women writers, including Katherine Austen, Margaret Hoby, and Mary Rich. I also connect these religious-minded “preacher-poets” to other writers, including Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. While other scholars have related preaching to the public playhouse, I extend the discussion by connecting sermons, poetry, and drama in order to demonstrate that sermons culturally informed the role of gender in English Protestantism. This approach is justified by the knowledge that women actually made up more than half of the consumer base of those attending and reading sermons. Further, I suggest that we can see some of these women writers as preachers in and of themselves, ministering to their local communities and writing devotional texts influenced by and responding to the sermon genre. When considering the role of gender in early modern Protestantism, I contend that we can see the sermon’s clear influence on a variety of genres in both canonical and archival texts in a way that breaks down the boundaries of gender rules previously assumed in early modern English Protestantism.