John Guillory

Silver Professor; Professor Of English

Areas of Research

Renaissance poetry and prose; Shakespeare; Milton; literature and science in the Renaissance; the history of rhetoric; the history of criticism; the sociology of literary study; twentieth-century literary theory

External Affiliations

Editorial Board, English Literary History, 1989-96; Modern Language Association; Modern Language Association, Prize Committee for First Book Publication, 1991-95; Executive Committee, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC; Supervisory Board of the English Language Institute, 1996-97; Editorial Board, Profession; Modern Language Association, Committee on the Bibliography of the Teaching of Literature.


John Guillory's teaching and research focus on two areas: early modern literature, and the histories of criticism, literary theory, and literary scholarship. In his period field, he is currently working on a book entitled, "Things of Heaven and Earth: Figures of Philosophy in English Renaissance Writing." This study looks at the emergence of the philosopher as a distinct social type in the Renaissance, and at the complex interrelations between philosophy and theology on the one side, and philosophy and literature on the other. Several chapters from this monograph have been published, including essays on Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton. He is further interested in studying the development of discursive prose in the early modern period, especially in relation to norms of "clarity" and the long decline of rhetoric. In the area of the history and sociology of criticism, he has published on topics that include the problem of canon formation, the American reception of Pierre Bourdieu, the history of literacy, the theory of reading, the theory of pedagogy, professionalization and graduate education, science studies, the evaluation of scholarship, and media studies. He is currently working on a disciplinary history entitled, "Literary Study in the Age of Professionalism." This study undertakes a sociology of literary study in the context of the professionalization of science and scholarship in the new American university of the later nineteenth century. Essays from this work have been published on several topics, including early disciplinary formations such as philology and belles lettres, and the concurrent demise of the rhetorical curriculum and rise of bureaucratic writing genres such as the memorandum.