Matthew P. Ritger

I study literature and drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with an emphasis on poetry and politics. Areas of particular interest include the history of rhetoric and poetics, print technology and culture, carceral history, queer theory, and early modern criminal law and policy,  as well as authors including More, Shakespeare, Marvell.

My dissertation project, titled Objects of Correction: Literature and the Birth of Modern Punishment, reconstructs the early history of rehabilitative punishments, from More’s Utopia to colonial penal codes. Based in and around institutions such as London’s Protestant hospitals and Bridewell Prison, the first “house of correction,” Objects of Correction studies how literature and drama both addressed and affected penal reform in early modern England, during a crucial period in the rise of what Foucault has called “the correctional world.”

At Princeton my research has been supported by grants from the Center for the Study of Religion, the Center for Digital Humanities, and the Donald and Mary Hyde Research Fellowship. In 2017-2018 I held the Arthur P. Morgan Graduate Fellowship in English. In 2018-2019 my work is supported by the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, Princeton’s highest honor for a graduate student.

While at Princeton I have also served as an adviser for undergraduate students at Mathey College and as an assistant in the Center for Digital Humanities. Previously I worked as a lecturer at Cornell University, where I taught First-Year Writing Seminars on Shakespeare, as well as introductory creative writing courses, and where I earned my MFA (2014). I hold a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College (2010).

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.