Orlando Reade

BA, English Literature, Cambridge University
MA, Renaissance Studies, University of London

My research focuses on English poetry in the seventeenth century, and in particular, how poetry helped people in times of crisis to imagine different political, ethical and erotic forms of life. More broadly my interests include early modern and contemporary poetry; British political history and political thought; the British Empire and racial capitalism; psychoanalysis and histories of sexuality; painting, carnivals, wildflower meadows, the stars, toys and dancing.

My dissertation, “Being a Lover of the World: Devotional poetry and political disaffection after the English Civil Wars,” examines four poets writing during and in the aftermath of the English Civil Wars (1641-1653): John Milton, Henry Vaughan, Katherine Philips and Thomas Traherne. It shows how political disaffection during the Puritan ascendancy, after the dissolution of the national church in 1641 and then the execution of the king in 1649, led to a culture of lively poetic experimentation. This history culminates in the elaboration of a new figure for poetry: the love of the world. It argues that this poetic love of the world, usually associated with the Romantic poetry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, emerged as a response to the political and religious turmoil of the seventeenth century. But to love the world, as Hannah Arendt once wrote, “is so difficult.” This dissertation describes the struggle of poets to accomplish this peculiarly difficult form of life.

I have two articles on seventeenth century poetry forthcoming in edited collections, and have published numerous non-academic essays on contemporary literature, art and politics. This year I am one of the department’s Bain-Swiggett Fellows in Poetry, which has supported me to teach a class on poetry at a local correctional facility, and I serve as a member of the organizing committee of the Princeton Prison Teaching Initiative.