My research focuses on the literature and culture of early modern England. My peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Renaissance Quarterly, ELH, Shakespeare Studies, and Milton Studies. I teach courses on Shakespeare, poetry, and other topics in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College, where I am currently assistant professor. 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 book project, Making Correction: Literature and Carceral Institutions in Early Modern England, 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,” Making Correction unearths the surprising extent to which English literature became a discipline in its own right while defining itself against early modern carceral institutions. At the same time Making Correction shows how literature of all genres—-including prose fictions, dramatic experiences, and poetry by thinkers such as More, Shakespeare, and Milton—-helped to re-shape the justificatory rhetoric of correction, during two crucial centuries in the rise of what Foucault called “the correctional world.”
I hold a Ph.D. from Princeton University (2020) as well as an M.F.A from Cornell University (2014). 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. At Princeton, I 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 received my M.F.A. in poetry. 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. I grew up not far from there in Maine.
On this site you can find links to some of my criticism and poetry, as well as some conceptual and visual poems, and old notes from when I used to keep a blog like a commonplace book. You can also find me online at http://scholar.princeton.edu/mpritger/home and http://princeton.academia.edu/MatthewRitger.
- “Milton and the Literary Workhouse.” Milton Studies, vol. 63 no. 2 (2021).
- “Time in The Tempest: Shakespeare, The Mock-Tempest, and Early Modern Carceral Labor.” Shakespeare Studies, Issue 49 (2021).
- “Reading Utopia in the Reformation of Punishment.” Renaissance Quarterly 72.4 (winter 2019-2020).
- “Marvell’s double negatives: Oliver Cromwell and ‘An Horatian Ode.'” English Literary History, 85.3, Fall 2018.
- “Invisible Shakespeare” (Review essay). The Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 17, 2016.
- “The Charges: On Jorie Graham’s From The New World: Poems 1976-2014.” The Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 8, 2015.
- “Brilliant In Difference: On Three Emerging American Indian Poets.” The Los Angeles Review of Books Print Quarterly, Winter 2015.
- “Shrapnel and Song: On Contemporary Poetry from Afghanistan.” The Los Angeles Review of Books Online, April 20, 2014.
- “Evergreen Cemetery, 1990.” The Beloit Poetry Journal, Spring 2014. Vol. 64, No. 3. Also on Verse Daily.
- “Translations from the Bone-House: On the Poetry of Seamus Heaney and John Hollander.” The Los Angeles Review of Books Print Quarterly, Winter 2014.
- “Notes for a Spherical Field: Three Linked Poems.” The Seattle Review, 5, No. 2, 2012.
- “30.” Best New Poets 2011: 50 Poems from Emerging Poets,selected by D.A. Powell. University of Virginia Press, 2012.