Name: Paul Stevens
Title: Professor
Office Phone: 416-926-0120
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 628
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: On Leave 2015-16
BA (Honours) London
MA Carleton
PhD Toronto; FRSC
Paul Stevens 

Paul Stevens is currently Professor and Canada ResearchChair in Early Modern Literature & Culture. During 2015-16, he will beSenior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. His primary area of teaching and research is Milton and seventeenth-century literature, especially as that area illuminates colonialism and nationalism, secularism and religious change, and literary theory and history. Professor Stevens’s first book Imagination and the Presence of Shakespeare in “Paradise Lost” (Wisconsin 1985) examined the wayShakespeare appears to function in Milton’s writing as a metonym for imagination, so much so that as Milton strove to rationalize the psychology of religious faith, he played a critical role in facilitating the Romantic idealization of imagination. In a subsequent sequence of articles, the two most influential of which remain “‘Leviticus Thinking’ and the Rhetoric of EarlyModern Colonialism,” Criticism 35:3 (1993)and “Paradise Lost and the ColonialImperative,” Milton Studies 34 (1996), his focus turned to colonialism and post-colonial theory, most notably showing howScripture gave Western colonialism its peculiar character and challenging the conventional view that Milton was “a poet against empire.” In Discontinuities: New Essays on Renaissance Literature andCriticism (Co-ed, Toronto 1998), he began his continuing engagement with the genesis and significance of the New Historicism, two later articles, “Pretending to be Real: Stephen Green blatt and the Legacy of Popular Existentialism,” New Literary History 33:2 (2002) and “The NewPresentism and its Discontents,” RethinkingHistoricism (Cambridge 2012), identifying the shortcomings of NewHistoricism but suggesting how liberating historicist thinking more broadly construed can be. His interest in colonialism led to nationalism and his prize-winning collection, Early Modern Nationalism andMilton’s England (Co-ed, Toronto 2008), fore-grounded the Janus-faced nature of modern nationalism. Professor Stevens is currently working on two projects, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare andWar and Sola Gratia: EnglishLiterature and the Secular Ways of Grace for which he was awarded a2012-13 Guggenheim Fellowship and which analyzes the ways in which the religious doctrine of grace morphs into all kinds of surprisingly different,secular forms of cultural surplus. A former President of the Milton Society ofAmerica and Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, he was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the founder and coordinator of the annual international Canada Milton Seminar and a passionate graduate and undergraduate teacher, recent prizes including the Northrop Frye Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research (2008), Finalist for the TVO BestLecturer Competition (2009), and the President’s Teaching Award (2010).

Faculty Bookshelf  



The CambridgeCompanion to Shakespeare and War, co-ed with David Loewenstein(Cambridge University Press, in progress)


Sola Gratia:English Literature and the Secular Ways of Grace. In progress.

Early Modern Nationalism and Milton’s England,co-ed. with David Loewenstein (University of Toronto Press, 2008). *Winner of the 2009 Irene Samuel Memorial Prize.

Discontinuities: New Essays on RenaissanceLiterature and Criticism, ed. with VivianaComensoli (University of Toronto Press, 1998).

Imagination and the Presence of Shakespeare in “Paradise Lost” (University ofWisconsin Press, 1985).

Some Recent Articles:

“Raphael’s Condescension: Paradise Lost, Jane Austen, and the Secular Displacement of Grace,” Milton and the Long Restoration, ed. Ann Coiro and Blair Hoxby (CambridgeUniversity Press, forthcoming 2016).

“Churchill’s War Horse: Children’s Literature and the Pleasures of War.” Children’s Literature and theCulture of the First World War, ed. Peter Hunt and Lissa Paul(Routledge, forthcoming 2016).

Henry VIII, Hamlet, and the Question of Religion: APost-Secular Perspective,” Shakespeare and Early ModernReligion, ed. David Loewenstein and Michael Witmore (CambridgeUniversity Press, 2014).

“Obnoxious Satan: Milton, Neo-Roman Justice, and theBurden of Grace,” Taking Exception to theLaw, ed. Don Beecher et al (University of Toronto Press, 2015).

“The Pre-Secular Politics of ParadiseLost.” Cambridge Companion to “Paradise Lost,”ed. Louis Schwartz (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

“Lament for a Nation? Milton’s Readie and Easie Way and the Turn to Satire.” The OxfordHandbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Knoppers (Oxford University Press, 2012).

“The New Presentism and its Discontents” RethinkingHistoricism from Shakespeare to Milton, ed. Ann Coiro and Thomas Fulton (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Prize-winning Articles:

“Literary Studies and theTurn to Religion: Milton Reading Badiou.” Religion& Literature 45:1(2013). *Winner of the 2011 CSRS Montaigne Prize.

Paradise Lost and the ColonialImperative.” Milton Studies 34 (1996). *Winner of the Milton Society of America’s 1997 Hanford Award for the Most Distinguished Article of the Year.

“Milton and the Icastic Imagination.” MiltonStudies 20 (1984). *Winner of the Milton Society of America’s 1985 Hanford Award for the Most Distinguished Article of the Year.