Homepage for Professor Jeffrey Theis

Theis ImageTeaching Interests:
            My teaching interests primarily focus on early modern and environmental literature. At Salem State College I teach undergraduate surveys of Shakespeare, British Literature, and Classics of Western Literature along with composition courses and special topics within early modern literature. At the graduate level, I teach special topics in Shakespeare (such as Shakespearean Geography and Forests in Shakespeare) as well as a seminar on John Milton. In the past I have also taught courses on environmental literature and links between Shakespeare and contemporary novels.

Research Interests:
            My forthcoming book, The Sylvan Pastoral Nation: Nature, History and Genre in Early Modern England (Duquesne University Press), focuses on pastoral literature in early modern England as an emerging form of nature writing. In particular, I analyze what happens when pastoral writing is set in forests--what I term sylvan pastoral. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries forests and woodlands played an instrumental role in the formation of individual and national identities in England. Although environmentalism as we know it did not yet exist, persistent fears of timber shortages led to a larger anxiety about the status of forests. More important, forests were dynamic and contested sites of largely undeveloped spaces where the poor would migrate in a time of rising population when land became scarce. This is a place where the poor would go, but it also was a playground for monarchs and aristocrats where they indulged in the symbolically rich sport of hunting. I argue that conventional pastoral literature transforms when writers use it to represent and define forests and the multiple ways in which English society saw these places. I am particularly interested in exploring the ways in which cultures turn confusing spaces into known places and how this process is shaped by nature, history, gender and class. I explore how these issues play out in familiar works by Shakespeare, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and As You Like It, Andrew Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," John Milton's Mask and Paradise Lost, as well as lesser known prose works of the English Revolution, such as James Howell's Dendrologia and John Evelyn's Sylva.
        I also am exploring the links between nature and architecture during the early modern period. In addition to the book, I have published articles on Shakespeare and Milton that appear in Milton Studies, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, English Literary Renaissance, and Renaissance Ecology: Imagining Eden in Milton's England, ed. by Ken Hiltner. I have also written on issues important to the academy in Profession 2006.

For More Information:

How to Contact Me:

    Email: jeffrey.theis@salemstate.edu
       Jeffrey Theis
       Assistant Professor
       Department of English
       Salem State College
       352 Lafayette Street
       Salem, Massachusetts 01970-5353

       Phone: 978-542-6845

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