Professor Rhodri Lewis

Tutorial Fellow in English

Subject: English Language and Literature

Department: Academic - Fellows & Lecturers


Rhodri’s interests involve early modern literary and intellectual history, and textual criticism. His new book, Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness, reads Shakespeare’s most famous work alongside the cultural and moral orthodoxies of renaissance humanism, and offers a strikingly unfamiliar account of the play’s action and significance; it is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2017. At the moment, he is at work on four main projects. First, a short book about Christopher Marlowe. Second, a larger project using the development of parody and satire from about 1500 to 1750 as a lens through which to examine the transformation of “literature” from a cultural field that encompassed the litterae humaniores in the round, to one that would be defined — and circumscribed — as the province of belles lettres. Third, editing (with Daniel Andersson and Sophie Weeks) volume 5 of the Oxford University Press edition of Francis Bacon’s complete works, which comprises the De sapientia veterum (1609) and Bacon’s early philosophical writings to about 1611. Fourth, editing (with William Poole and Kelsey Williams) the correspondence of John Aubrey.



1550-1830, Shakespeare, English Language.


He supervises graduate students at both MSt and DPhil level, and would be glad to hear from any potential students working in his fields of interest, or in literary and intellectual history from about 1500 to 1750 more broadly. Current and recent topics of DPhil supervision include “The ars critica in Early Modern England”, “Renaissance Character Fashioning: Shorthand, Writing and Remembering”, “The Devil in the Detail: The Science of Magic on the Early Modern Stage”, “John Aubrey’s Antiquarian Scholarship: A Study in the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters”, “The Cosmology of Margaret Cavendish”, “Sir William Cornwallis and the Early English Essay”, “Abraham Cowley and the Poetry of Nature” and “Variorum Vitae: Theseus and the Arts of Mythography”.

Other activities

  • Rhodri  is Director of the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities, based at Ertegun House. For more information, see here.
  • With Professor Emma Smith, he convenes the Early Modern Graduate Seminar, which usually meets in the English Faculty’s History of the Book room at 5.15pm on Tuesdays in weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7 of Full Term. For the duration of the 2016-17 academic year, it will meet at the same time in Ertegun House.”
  • He can be found on Twitter as @profrhodrilewis.

Selected publications


William Petty on the Order of Nature: An Unpublished Manuscript Treatise (Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2012)

Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England from Bacon to Locke, “Ideas in Context” series, no. 80 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback reissue, 2012)


1. Shakespeare

“Hamlet, Metaphor, and Memory”, Studies in Philology 109 (2012), 609-41

“Two Meanings in One Word: A Note on Shakespeare’s Richard III, III.i.81-83″, Notes and Queries 59 (2012), 61-63

“Shakespeare’s Clouds and the Image Made by Chance”, Essays in Criticism 62 (2012), 1-24

2. Bacon

“Francis Bacon and Ingenuity”, Renaissance Quarterly 67 (2014), 113-63

“Francis Bacon, Allegory and the Uses of Myth”, Review of English Studies 61 (2010), 360-89

“A Kind of Sagacity: Francis Bacon, the ars memoriae and the Pursuit of Natural Knowledge”, Intellectual History Review 19 (2009), 155-77

3. Philosophy, Science and Religion

“Impartiality and Disingenuousness in English Rational Religion”, in The Emergence of Impartiality, eds. Anita Traninger and Kathryn Murphy (Leiden, 2013), 224-45

“Thinking with Animals in the Early Royal Society”, in Ethical Perspectives on Animals in the Renaissance and Early Modern Period, eds. Burkhard Dohm and Cecilia Muratori (Florence, 2013), 231-56

“William Petty’s Anthropology: Religion, Colonialism, and the Problem of Human Diversity”, Huntington Library Quarterly 74 (2011), 261-88

“Hooke’s Two Buckets: Memory, Mnemotechnique and Knowledge in the Early Royal Society”, in Ars Reminiscendi: Mind and Memory in Renaissance Culture, eds. Donald Beecher and Grant Williams (Toronto, 2009), 339-63

“The Enlightenment”, in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology, eds. Andrew Hass, David Jasper and Elisabeth Jay (Oxford, 2007), 97-114

“Robert Hooke at 371”, Perspectives on Science 14 (2007), 672-87

“Of ‘Origenian Platonisme’: Joseph Glanvill on the Pre-Existence of Souls”, Huntington Library Quarterly 69 (2006), 267-300

4. Language

“On Looking Again into Champagnolla’s Homer”, Language and History 56 (2013), 56-66

“‘The Best Mnemonicall Expedient’: John Beale’s Art of Memory and its Uses”, The Seventeenth Century 20 (2005), 113-44

“A Babel off Broad Street: Artificial Language Planning in 1650s Oxford”, History of Universities 19 (2005), 108-45

“John Evelyn, the Early Royal Society and Artificial Language Projection: a New Source”, Notes and Queries 51 (2004), 31-35

“The Publication of John Wilkins’s Essay (1668): Some Contextual Considerations”, Notes and Records of the Royal Society 56 (2002), 133-46

“The Efforts of the Aubrey Correspondence Group to Revise John Wilkins’s Essay (1668) and their context”, Historiographia Linguistica 28 (2001), 333-66

5. Miscellaneous

“Samuel Hartlib”, “William Petty” and “John Wilkins”, in The Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature, eds. Alan Stewart, Garrett Sullivan, et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), 446-51, 780-82, 1057-59

“Historians, Critics and Historicists”, English Historical Review 125 (2010), 370-82

“An Early Reader of Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel”, Notes and Queries 57 (2010), 67-69

“An Unpublished Letter from Andrew Marvell to William Petty”, Notes and Queries 53 (2006), 47-50

Learn more about Rhodri on his Faculty of English page.

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