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Rob Stillman UTK English

Robert E. Stillman

Robert Stillman


412 McClung Tower
Phone: (865) 974-6971
Fax: (865) 974-6926


Robert E. Stillman received his B.A. degree from New College, his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and served as postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. His primary field of scholarly research is early modern literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on questions of language, poetics, politics, and religion in relation to English fictions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He has written books about Philip Sidney and the poetics of pastoralism (Sidney’s Poetic Justice, 1986); about England’s universal language movement and the natural and political philosophies of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and John Wilkins (The New Philosophies and Universal Languages, 1986); and about Philip Sidney’s cosmopolitanism and his invention of poesis as a vehicle of cultural praxis (Philip Sidney and the Poetics of Renaissance Cosmopolitanism, 2006). His most recent book is entitled Christian Identity, Piety, and Politics in Early Modern England. It was published by Notre Dame University Press in its series on Re-Formations: Medieval to Early Modern. The book restores to critical and historical attention a body of important English fiction makers, intellectuals, and political actors who responded to the confessionally driven religious wars of the late sixteenth-century by piously refusing to identify themselves with any particular church. The book includes chapters on John Harington, Philip and Mary Sidney, Henry Constable, Aemilia Lanyer, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and James I. In addition to these books, Professor Stillman has published articles in a wide variety of venues from Modern Philology and ELR (English Literary Renaissance) to ELH and Spenser Studies. He is a the book review editor for The Sidney Journal and an organizer for the annual conferences sponsored by the International Sidney Society at the Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, the Renaissance Association of America Conference, and Kalamazoo.

His teaching interests are varied. He offers classes at every level of the undergraduate and graduate program, from the Introduction to Shakespeare (206) to Early and Late Shakespeare (404 and 405), to courses that survey non-dramatic literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (521), to seminars on topics of importance to early modern studies. He has created a new class, Shakespeare and Film (English 306). He regularly teaches off-campus courses in dramatic performance, both in New York and the United Kingdom (English 491 and 492), reflecting his belief that the best educational experiences happen sometimes outside of university walls. He has won departmental awards for the quality of his teaching (the Hodges Award for Assistant Professors), and the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence; he has served as a Chancellor’s Teaching Scholar; and he has won the Alumni Award for Outstanding Teaching.


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., New College



  • Conspicuous Evidence: Papers on Early Modern Poetry and Poetics.  Ed. Robert E. Stillman, Mary Ellen Lamb, and Ann Lake Prescott. Special Issue of The Sidney Journal 40, nos.1-2. June 2023.
  • Christian Identity, Piety, and Politics in Early Modern England: Notre Dame, IN. Notre Dame Univ. Press, 2021
  • Philip Sidney and the Poetics of Renaissance Cosmopolitanism: London, Routledge, 2014.
  • Spectacle and Public Performance in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Edited with Introduction by Robert E. Stillman. Leiden: Brill Academic Press, 2006. 
  • The New Philosophy and Universal Languages in Seventeenth-Century England: Bacon, Hobbes, and Wilkins. Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1995.
  • Sidney’s Poetic Justice: The Old Arcadia, Its Eclogues, and Renaissance Pastoral Traditions. Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1986.

Articles and Chapters

  • “Sweetness and the Early Modern Aesthetic,” in Conspicuous Evidence: Essays on Early Modern Poetry And Poetics. Special Issue of The Sidney Journal 40, nos.1-2. Ed. Robert E. Stillman, Mary Ellen Lamb, and Ann Lake Prescott. 8,000 words. June, 2023. 
  • “Philip Sidney and Europe.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philip Sidney. Ed. Catherine Bates.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. 7,000 words. December, 2022.
  • “Ripening the Fiction: Arcadian Repentance and Energeia,” in Energeia, ed. Daniel T. Lochman. A Special Issue of The Sidney Journal 38, no. 2 (2020): 51-71.
  • “Philip Sidney and Europe.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philip Sidney. Ed. Catherine Bates. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 7,000 words. Forthcoming.
  •  “Reading Sidney’s Confession in the Reformation’s Aftermath: The Challenge of the Secular and the Postsecular.” The Sidney Journal 36, no. 2 (2019): 1-28. Winner of the Gerald J. Rubio Prize, 2019.
  • “Piety and Poetry among the Sidneys: Philip Sidney and Mary Sidney-Herbert,” (with Nandra Perry). In The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Religion, 324-43. Ed. Andrew Hiscock and Helen Wilcox. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017.
  • “Sidney After Theory: The Turn to the Defence of Poesy.” Chapter for The Ashgate Research Companion to Sidney and the Sidney Family. Ed. Margaret Hannay, Michael Brennan, and Mary Ellen Lamb. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015.Vol. 2: 153-75.
  • “Philip Sidney, Thomas More, and Table Talk: Texts and Contexts” English Literary Renaissance 45, no. 3 (2015): 323-50.
  • “Sidney and the Catholics: The Turn from Confessionalism in Early Modern Literary Studies.” Modern Philology 112, no. 1 (2014): 97-129.
  • “I am not I”: Philip Sidney and the Energy of Fiction,” The Sidney Journal 30 (2012), 1-26.
  • “Mastering the Monster Text: Teaching Hobbes’s Leviathan,” in Teaching Early Modern English Prose. Ed. Margaret W. Ferguson and Susannah Brietz Monta. New York: The Modern Language Association, 2010, pp. 282-302.
  • “Fictionalizing Philippism in Sidney’s Arcadia: Economy, Virtuous Pagans, and Early Modern Poetics,” The Sidney Journal 27, no. 2 (2009), 13-39.
  • “Philip Sidney and the Idea of Romance,” The Sidney Journal 26, no.2 (2008), 17-33.
  • “‘Nothing more nedeful’: Politics and the Rhetoric of Accommodation in Elizabeth I’s Coronation Procession,” in Spectacle and Public Performance in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. Robert E. Stillman (Leiden: Brill Academic Publisher, 2006), pp. 51-78.
  • “In Quest of the Universal Language: Romance and the History of an Idea,” Language Problems and Language Planning 26: 3 (2002): 299-313.
  • “The Truths of a Slippery World: Poetry and History in Sidney’s Defence,” Renaissance Quarterly, 55 (2002), 1287-1319.
  • “‘Deadly Stinging Adders’: Sidney’s Piety, Philippism, and The Defence of Poesy,” Spenser Studies 16 (2002), 231-69.
  • “The Scope of Sidney’s Defence of Poesy: The New Hermeneutics and Early Modern Poetics,” English Literary Renaissance 32 (2002), 355-85.
  • “The State (out) of Language: Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis as a Restoration Paradigm For Scientific Revolution,” Soundings 84. 1-2 (Spring/Summer 2001), 201-227.
  • “Allegory, Poetry, and History in Sidney’s Arcadia,” The Sidney Journal 16, 2 (Fall 1998), 80-85. Journal 16. 2 (Fall 1998), 45-55.
  • A Symposium: Blair Worden’s The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s “Arcadia” and Elizabethan Politics (with Victor Skretkowicz, Roger Kuin, Blair Worden) in The Sidney Journal 16. 1 (Spring 1998), 36-56.
  • A Review of Lauren Silberman’s Transforming Desire (Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1995) in The Journal of English  and Germanic Philology 96, no. 2 (April 1997), 256-58.
  • “Hobbes’s Leviathan: Monsters, Metaphors, and Magic,” ELH (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 62 (1995), 791-819.
  • “Invitation and Engagement: Ideology and Wilkins’s Philosophical Language,” Configurations (The Johns Hopkins University Press), 1, no. 1 (1995), 1-26.
  • “Assessing the Revolution: Ideology, Rhetoric, and the New Philosophy in Early Modern England,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 35, no. 2 (Spring 1994), 99-118.
  • “Spenserian Autonomy and the Trial of the New Historicism: Book Six of The Faerie Queene,” in English Literary Renaissance 22, no. 3 (1992), 299-314.
  • “Radical Translation: Cultural Politics and England’s Universal Language Movement,” Babel: Revue Internationale de la Traduction 37, no. 3 (1991), 168-76.
  • “The Jacobean Discourse of Power: Bacon and James I,” Renaissance Papers (1989), 89-99.
  • A Whitman Sampler: Sidney Studies, Essentialism, and Lindheim. Critical Debate at the Crossroads,” Sidney Newsletter 9. 1. (1988), 22-32.
  • “The Politics of Sidney’s Pastoral: Mystification and Mythology in The Old Arcadia,” ELH 52 (1985), 795-814.
  • “Justice and the `Good Word’ in Sidney’s The Lady of May,” Studies in English Literature, 24 (1984), 23-38.
  • “The Perils of Fancy: Poetry and Self-Love in Sidney’s Old Arcadia,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 26 (1984), 1-17.
  • “Poetry and Justice in Sidney’s `Ye goat-herd gods’,” Studies in English Literature 22 (1982), 39-50.
  • “Elizabethan Acting Conventions: A Letter from Harley Granville-Barker to Alfred Harbage,” English Language Notes (March 1980).

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • Gerald Rubio Prize for the Best Essay on Sidney Circle Writers (2019, 2020).
  • Kenneth Curry Professorship, Department of English (2015-2020)
  • University of Tennessee Center for the Humanities Scholar (Fall, 2014)
  • Lindsay Young Professorship (2009-15)
  • Chancellor’s Research Award (Spring, 2013)
  • Visiting Fellow, Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies (February, 2013)
  • The Jan Van Dorsten Lecture (May, 2011)
  • Gerald J. Rubio Award: Outstanding Essay on Sidney Circle (2009)
  • SARIF Grant for Foreign Travel (2007, 8, 9,10,11,14)
  • John C. Hodges Research Leave (2008)
  • National Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award (2005)
  • John C. Hodges Scholarship Award (2005)
  • University of Tennessee Graduate Research Grant (1999)
  • Chancellor’s Teaching Scholar (1995-96 and 1996-97)
  • English Department’s Chair for Teaching Excellence (1995-98)
  • Phi Beta Kappa Award for Outstanding Scholarship (1993)
  • Chancellor’s Senior Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts (1992)
  • NEH Summer Research Grant (1988)
  • University of Tennessee Graduate Research Grant (1987)
  • John C. Hodges Teaching Award, English Department (1986)
  • Andrew Mellon Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities, English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University (1980-82)

Associations & Organizations

  • The International Sidney Society
  • The International Spenser Society
  • The International Porlock Association
  • Renaissance Society of America

Invited Lectures

  • Dulcis et Suavis: Early Modern Poetics and the Making of the Sweet Style.” New College Medieval and Renaissance Conference. Sarasota, FL, March, 2022.
  • “Philip Sidney and Sweetness: the Prehistory of Aesthetics.” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference. San Diego, CA, October, 2021.
  • “Sweet Philip Sidney,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, San Diego, CA. October 2021.
  • “Aristotelian Energeia: Sidney, Camerarius, and How to Read as a Philippist Read.” Philadelphia, PA. Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, October 2019.
  • “Philip Sidney and the Cause: A Case of Lexical Migration”. St. Louis, MO. Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, October 2018.
  • “Sidney and the Age of Secularism: Reformation and Reformations,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 2017.
  • “Sidney, Rembrandt, and Dispensing with Allegory.” Sixteenth-Century Studies   Conference, Bruges, Belgium, August 2016.
  • “How Sidney Moralized the Fiction: What’s Rotten (and Ripe) in the State of Paphlagonia,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Bruges, Belgium, August 2016.
  • “Why and How Sidney Wrote his Defence of Poesy.” Sidney Symposium. Invited Lecture. Notre Dame University. May, 2012.
  • “William Scott’s Model of Poesie: The Discovery of a New Work of Elizabethan Poetics.” Renaissance Society of America Conference. Washington, DC. March, 2012.
  • “Family Matters and Monuments to Sidney.” Renaissance Society of America Conference. Washington, DC. March, 2012.  
  • “Public Privacy: Letters in the Early Modern World.”  New College Biennial Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Sarasota, Fl. March, 2012.
  • “Upon the Rack of this Tough World”: Economy and the Stretch from Sidney to Shakespeare.”  New College Biennial Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Sarasota, Fl. March, 2012.
  • “On Account of the Cause: Sidney and Reforming Identity.”  The Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference. Forth Worth. October, 2011.
  • “Shakespeare Reading Sidney: Piety, Politics and Pathetic Optics from the Paphlagonian King to King Lear.”  International Shakespeare Association Conference. Prague, Czech Republic. July, 2011.
  • “Sidney, Elizabeth, and the French Church in London,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Vancouver, Canada, October 2015.
  • “Beyond the Confessions: Essex, Sidney and Constable in Scotland, 1589,” Renaissance Society of America Conference, Berlin, March 2015.
  • “Philip Sidney’s Piety, or How to be a Philippist and Write Poetry,” Roundtable in Honor of Margaret Hannay. Renaissance Society of America Conference, Berlin, March 2015.
  • “Confessing Piety in Christendom: William Scott, Philip Sidney, and Reading Religion in Early Modern Poetics,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, New Orleans, October, 2014
  • “Devour Him Whole: Sidney, Aristotle, and Joachim Camerarius the Younger,” Renaissance Society of America Conference, New York City, March 2014.
  • “Rewriting the Early Modern Epic: Cosmopolitanism and Philip Sidney’s Arcadia,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, San Juan, October 2013.
  • “Reading Arcadian Prose: Economy Reformed and Philip Sidney.” Invited series of lectures as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies. February, 2013.
  • “Thomas More, Philip Sidney, and the Burden of Beasts.” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Cincinatti, October, 2012. 
  • ’I am not I’: Energy and the Fiction of Philip Sidney.” The Jan Van Dorsten Lecture. Western Michigan University Medieval Studies Conference. May, 2011.
  • Romance, Genre, and Sidney-Circle Narratives.” Renaissance Society of America Conference. Montreal. March, 2011.
  • “Philip Sidney: Texts, Traditions, Translations.”  Purdue University.  Three Lectures by Invitation for “Sidney Day Celebration,” October, 2010.
  • “Philip Sidney and the Legacy of Fiction,” Renaissance Society of America Conference. Venice, Italy. April, 2010.
  • “Philip Sidney and Crypto-Catholicism,” Southeastern Renaissance Association Conference, Columbia, South Carolina, October 2010.
    “Fictionalizing Philippism: Sidney’s Virtuous Pagans and Revising Arcadia Again.” The Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Geneva, Switzerland. May, 2009.
  • “Reading Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.” Western Michigan University Medieval Studies Conference. May, 2009.
  • “Immaterial Matters and Questionable Economies: Piety and Early Modern Poetics.” Marco Symposium on Renaissance Humanism and Economies. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. March, 2009.