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John Guillory

Silver Professor of English; Professor of English

Ph.D. 1979 (English), Yale; B.A. 1974, Tulane.

Office Address: 

244 Greene Street room 311 New York, New York (US) 10003

Office Hours: 

Fall 2016: Dystopian Fictions (Tues 3:30pm-6:00pm), British Literature II (2:00pm-3:15pm)


(212) 998-8807


(212) 995-4019

Areas of Research/Interest: 

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.


Class of 1932 Fellow of the Council of the Humanities, Princeton University, 1996-97; Rene Wellek Award of the American Comparative Literature Association, 1994, for Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation.


Poetic Authority: Spenser, Milton and Literary History, Columbia Univ. Press, 1983.

Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993.

What’s Left of Theory? New Work on the Politics of Theory, ed. Judith Butler, John Guillory, and Kendall Thomas, Routledge, 2000.

Essays (Renaissance):

"Milton, Narcissism, Gender: On the Genealogy of Male Self-Esteem," Collected Essays on Milton, ed. Christopher Kendrick, G. K. Hall, 1995.

"'To Please the Wiser Sort': Violence, Philosophy, and Hamlet," in Psychoanalysis, Historicism, and Early Modern Culture, ed. Carlo Mazzio and Douglas Trevor, Routledge, 2000.

"A New Subject for Criticism," in The Culture of Capital, ed. Henry Turner, Routledge, 2002.

"The Bachelor State: Philosophy and Sovereignty in Bacon’s New Atlantis," Politics and the Passions, ed. Victoria Kahn and Neil Saccamano, Princeton Univ. Press, 2006.

Essays (history and sociology of literary study, professional topics):

"Canon," in Critical Terms for Literary Study, ed. Frank Lentriccia and Tom McLaughlin, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988.

"Gray’s Elegy, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and the Vernacular Canon," in Early Modern Conceptions of Property, ed. John Brewer and Susan Staves, Routledge, 1995.

"Preprofessionalism: What Graduate Students Want," Profession 1996.

"Bourdieu’s Refusal," Modern Language Quarterly, December 1997; rept. in Pierre Bourdieu: Fieldwork in Culture, ed. Nicholas Brown and ImreSzeman, Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.

"The System of Graduate Education," PMLA, October 2000.

"The Sokal Affair and the History of Criticism," Critical Inquiry (2002).

"Literary Study and the Modern System of the Disciplines," in Disciplinarity at the Fin de Siecle, ed. Amanda Anderson and Joseph Valente, Princeton Univ. Press, 2002.

"The Very Idea of Pedagogy," Profession 2002.

"The Memo and Modernity," Critical Inquiry (2004).

"Evaluating Scholarship in the Humanities: Policies and Procedures," ADE Bulletin, Modern Language Association, 2005.

"Who’s Afraid of Marcel Proust? The Failure of General Education in Post-War America," in The Humanities and the Dynamics of Inclusion, ed. David Hollinger, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

"How Scholars Read," ADE Bulletin, Modern Language Association, 2009.

"Genesis of the Media Concept," Critical Inquiry (2009).

Updated on 09/23/2016