Dr Joseph Wallace BA, MA, PhD

Dr Joseph Wallace

Department of English Literature
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 134
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I work on the literature and culture of sixteenth and seventeenth century England. My critical interests include the reception of classical culture, early modern religious conflict, the history of ideas, and early modern political theory.


  • BA, Birmingham-Southern College (2005)
  • MA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007)
  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2013)


I came to Birmingham and the UK as a Birmingham Fellow after receiving my PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.


My teaching has been mainly on early modern English literature, including the modules Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Songs and Sonnets and Epic Ambitions.

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to supervise on the following subjects:

  • Reception and transmission of classical texts
  • Early modern religious culture
  • Early modern poetry and poetic theory
  • The history of ideas


I recently completed my first monograph, which is a major rethinking of the concept of paganism in early modern English literature and culture. The project began with a desire to examine pagan religion qua religion in the early modern period, to look at it not just as something to be interpreted or explained but as something that was experienced as a religion. This concern has led me to look at the ways in which early modern Christians defined their religion against paganism, and how they experienced paganism as the potential for religious error in their own lives and in their own culture.

I am currently working on a second monograph on the notion of ‘equality’ in seventeenth-century England, to be examined across a wide range of literary genres, social changes, and intellectual frameworks in the period. An early example of my work toward this monograph was published in the journal Milton Studies in 2012. This article, “Miltonic Proportions: Divine Distribution and the Nature of the Lot in Paradise Lost,” was the co-winner of the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford award for distinguished article published on John Milton in 2012. I have completed a first chapter and am at work on a chapter on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.


  • ‘True Poetry and False Religion in Abraham Cowley’s Davideis’, Review of English Studies (published online 30 July 2015; forthcoming in print)
  • ‘Wandering Eyes: Jonson’s Catiline and the Problem of Sight’, Renaissance Drama 41, no. 1/2 (2013): 85-106.
  • ‘Miltonic Proportions: Divine Distribution and the Nature of the Lot in Paradise Lost’, Milton Studies 53 (2012): 101-23, 277-82.
  • ‘Strong Stomachs: Arthur Golding, Ovid, and Cultural Assimilation’, Renaissance Studies 26, no. 5 (2012): 728-43.
  • ’Legal Theories and Ancient Practices in John Selden’s Marmora Arundelliana’, Journal of the History of Ideas 72, no. 3 (July 2011): 393-412.
  • ‘The Historical Context of the Epigraph to Jonson’s Catiline’, Notes and Queries, n.s. 58 (June 2011): 282-83.
  • ‘The Merits of Being Obscure: Erasmus and Budé Debate the Style, Shape, and Audience of Humanist Scholarship’, Moreana 46, nos. 177-78 (December 2009): 198-229.