English professor’s book sheds new light on poet and preacher John Donne

The book reveals how Donne’s writings have circulated throughout history, and how religious readers, communities and movements affected the distribution and reception of his body of work.
Joshua Ekhardt alongside the book cover for

Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of English in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, has authored a new book that examines the religious texts and books that surrounded the poems, sermons and inscriptions of poet and preacher John Donne (1572-1631).

The book, “Religion Around John Donne,” (Penn State University Press) reveals how Donne’s writings have circulated throughout history, and how religious readers, communities and movements affected the distribution and reception of his body of work. It makes a new contribution to Donne studies, religious history, book history and reception studies, according to the publisher.

“Eckhardt sheds light on the religious writings with which Donne’s work was linked during its circulation, using a bibliographic approach that also informs our understanding of his work’s reception during the early modern period,” according to the publisher. “He analyzes the religious implications of the placement of Donne’s poem ‘A Litany’ in a library full of Roman Catholic and English prayer books, the relationship and physical proximity of Donne’s writings to figures such as Sir Thomas Egerton and Izaak Walton, and the movements in later centuries of Donne’s work from private owners to the major libraries that have made this study possible.”

Eckhardt, whose research focuses on the early modern English period, is also the author of “Manuscript Verse Collectors and the Politics of Anti-Courtly Love Poetry” (Oxford University Press, 2009) and co-edited “Manuscript Miscellanies in Early Modern England” (Ashgate, 2014).

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