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Rob Stillman

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 (2021). 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 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



  • Special Issue in Honor of Roger Kuin.  Ed. Robert E. Stillman, Mary Ellen Lamb, and Ann Lake Prescott.Special Issue of The Sidney Journal 40, nos.1-2. December, 2022.
  • 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 Special Issue in Honor of Roger J. Kuin. Special Issue of The Sidney Journal 40 (2022): 75-98.  Ed. Robert E. Stillman, Mary Ellen Lamb, and Ann Lake Prescott. . December, 2022. 
  • “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.

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)

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.