English Faculty

James Kuzner


My research tends to focus on the relationship between literature, selfhood, and political imagination. My first book, Open Subjects: English Renaissance Republicans, Modern Selfhoods, and the Virtue of Vulnerability, was published in 2011 by Edinburgh University Press. I am currently at work on a pair of book-length projects: one called “How Shakespeare Thinks,” an exploration of skepticism, faith, and the politics of cognition, which EUP will publish in 2014; and another called “Metaphysical Freedom,” a study of Donne, the metaphysical imagination, and the experience of counterintuitive liberties.

In different ways, my projects all bring together theory and literature so as to imagine new forms of life. Open Subjects does so by tracing a strand of early modern republicanism—typically thought to bolster liberal frameworks—that can actually be used to develop conceptions of selfhood outlined in contemporary radical theory. “How Shakespeare Thinks,” for its part, shows how the skepticism of Shakespearean texts scrambles cognitive theory’s largely humanistic understandings of law, individualism, and ethics. My project on metaphysical poetry, lastly, describes how that poetry adumbrates an odd liberty, founded on images of bondage rather than of unobstructed movement, a liberty that plunges subjects into states bordering on the non-human.

BA, University of Maryland, College Park
MA, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Selected Publications


  • “How Shakespeare Thinks: Scepticism, Faith, and the Politics of Cognition” (under contract with Edinburgh University Press, 2014).
  • Open Subjects: English Renaissance Republicans, Modern Selfhoods, and the Virtue of Vulnerability (Edinburgh UP, 2011 as the inaugural volume of Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture, ed. Lorna Hutson). Paperback edition October 2012.
  • “Metaphysical Freedom: Literature, Imagination, and the Idea of Liberty” (in progress).


  • “Donne’s Biathanatos and the Public Sphere’s Vexing Freedom,” forthcoming in ELH: English Literary History (2013).
  • “Milton, Habermas, and the Dynamics of Debate,” forthcoming in The Return to Theory in Early Modern English Studies, vol. 2, ed. Paul Cefalu, Gary Kuchar, Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 
  • The Winter’s Tale: Faith in Law and the Law of Faith,” in Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval & Renaissance Studies 24:3(2012): 260-281.
  • “'And here’s thy hand': Titus Andronicus in a Time of Terror,” in Shakespeare Yearbook (“Shakespeare after 9/11” special issue, ed. Julia Reinhard Lupton, 2011), 191-201.
  • “'Why Want?': Scepticism, Sovereignty, Sodomy,” in ShakesQueer, ed. Madhavi Menon (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 361-8.
  • “Habermas Goes to Hell: Pleasure, Public Reason, and the Republicanism of Paradise Lost,” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 51:1 (2009): 105-145.
  • “Unbuilding the City: Coriolanus and the Birth of Republican Rome,” Shakespeare Quarterly 58:2 (2007): 174-199.

Assistant Professor

Early Modern English Literature, Shakespeare