Matthew P. Ritger

My research usually begins at the intersection of art and power in English literature and drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Areas of particular interest include poetry and poetics; penology and carceral history; book history; queer theory; rhetorical culture; and authors including More, Shakespeare, Marvell.

My dissertation, Objects of Correction: Literature and the Birth of Modern Punishment, constructs an imaginative and critical history of rehabilitative punishments, from Utopia to colonial penal codes. Based in and around London’s Protestant hospitals and Bridewell prison, the first “house of correction,” Objects of Correction unearths the extent to which English literature became a discipline in its own right by defining itself against early modern carceral institutions. At the same time Objects of Correction shows how literature of all genres—including prose fictions, dramatic experiences, and poetry by thinkers such as More, Shakespeare, and Milton—helped to shape the justificatory language of penal correction, during two crucial centuries in the rise of what Foucault called "the correctional world."

In 2018-2019 my work was awarded the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, Princeton’s highest honor for a graduate student. In 2017-2018 I held the Arthur P. Morgan Graduate Fellowship in English. My research has been supported by grants from Princeton's Center for the Study of Religion, Center for Digital Humanities, and the Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship. On campus I've served as a residential adviser for undergraduate students in Mathey College and Butler College, and worked as an assistant in the Center for Digital Humanities.

Previously I taught as a lecturer at Cornell University, where I led First-Year Writing Seminars on Shakespeare, as well as introductory creative writing courses, and where I earned my MFA in poetry (2014). Creative work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Seattle Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and the anthology Best New Poets (2011), among others. I hold a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Dartmouth College.

Selected Publications: 

“Reading Utopia in the Reformation of Punishment.” Renaissance Quarterly 72.4, winter 2019 (forthcoming).

"Marvell's double negatives: Oliver Cromwell and 'An Horatian Ode.'" English Literary History, 85.3, fall 2018.

"Invisible Shakespeare." (link is external) Review Essay. Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 2016. 

"The Charges: On Jorie Graham's From The New World: Poems 1976-2014.” (link is external) Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 2015.

"Shrapnel and Song: On Contemporary Poetry from Afghanistan." (link is external) Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 2014. 

"Translations from the Bone-House: On the Poetry of Seamus Heaney and John Hollander." (link is external) Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, Winter 2014.