Steven Zwicker

Steven Zwicker

Professor Emeritus of English
Adjunct Professor of History
Stanley Elkin Professor in the Humanities
PhD, Brown University
BA, University of California, Los Angeles
research interests:
  • Early Modern Literature
  • Book History
  • Literature and Politics

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1122
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Zwicker is the author or editor of numerous works on Andrew Marvell and John Dryden. His recent interests include the habits and protocols of reading in early modern England, the history of aesthetics, and early modern biography.

Zwicker has long been a leader in establishing interdisciplinary teaching and research programs in the humanities, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has collaborated extensively with historians of early modern England. 

Professor Zwicker - together with colleagues in the Department of History - created the Literature and History Program in Arts and Sciences in 1976, in which he has co-taught seminars since its inception.

Personal Statement

I was born and grew up in Los Angeles. Since my undergraduate days at UCLA I have been interested in what we now call "early modern literature," especially literature of the English civil war years and Restoration (c. 1640-1700). My graduate work was directed by Barbara Lewalski at Brown University and I began teaching at Washington University, St. Louis in 1969. At the time, John Pocock taught the history of political thought at Washington University and I received what I thought of then, and continue to think of, as a crucial postgraduate education in his seminars. Pocock's work in the history of political thought opened for me a way to understand relations between politics and literary culture, and I have worked along that axis for a number of years, writing on Marvell, Milton, and Dryden, and, more broadly, on Restoration culture and politics. My recent interests include the habits and protocols of reading in early modern England, the history of aesthetics, and early modern biography, and again with an aim of situating all of these cultural institutions and practices within political and social history. At Washington University I hold the Stanley Elkin Professorship in the Humanities and am Professor of English and Adjunct Professor of History. I direct the Literature and History Program; the Mellon Postdoctoral Program, "Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry"; and the Mellon Summer Dissertation Seminar Program. I have directed research seminars at the Folger Shakespeare Library; held a visiting professorship at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan; held research awards from NEH, ACLS, the Taft Foundation, the American Bibliographical Society, and the Mellon Foundation; visiting research appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Clark Library, and the Huntington Library, and in the spring of 2003 was British Academy Visiting Lecturer at the Universities of Liverpool and Aberdeen. Monographs and edited volumes: The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden, ed. (forthcoming, 2004); Reading, Politics, and Society in Early Modern England, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (2003); John Dryden: A Tercentenary Miscellany, ed. (2001), The Selected Poems of John Dryden, ed. with David Bywaters (2001); Refiguring Revolutions: Aesthetics and Politics from the English Revolution to the Romantic Revolution, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (1998); The Cambridge Companion to English Literature: 1650-1740, ed. (1998); Lines of Authority: Politics and English Literary Culture, 1649-1689 (1993); Politics of Discourse: The Literature and History of Seventeenth-Century England, ed. with Kevin Sharpe (1987); Politics and Language in Dryden's Poetry: The Arts of Disguise (1984); Dryden's Political Poetry: The Typology of King and Nation (1972).


  • Endowment Challenge Grant and Bridge Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Modeling
  • Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” December 1, 2004, for bridge period 2006-2008 [Challenge fulfilled 2007]
  • British Academy Lecturer, University of Liverpool and University of Aberdeen, April 1-15, 2003
  • Endowment Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Washington University Dissertation Seminars, 2002
  • [Challenge fulfilled 2002]
  • Program Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” a Postdoctoral
  • Program in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Washington University, 2001-2006
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1999-2000
  • Director, Mellon Dissertation Seminars, Washington University, summers 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2007
  • Director, NEH Summer Institute, Folger Shakespeare Library, summer 1997
  • Folger/NEH Fellow, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1994-1995
  • Clark Library Fellow, Clark Library, Los Angeles, California, summer 1994
  • American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant, summer 1994
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Fellow, 1992
  • Co-Director, with Derek Hirst, Folger Institute Seminar, Folger Library fall term 1991
  • Huntington Library Fellow, Huntington Library, San Marino, California, 1987-1988
  • American Bibliographical Society Fellow, Beinecke Library, summer 1986
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, Visiting Member and NEH Fellow, 1981-1982
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Program Grants for Literature and History, 1976-1981
  • Mellon Fellow, Clark Library, Los Angeles, California, fall semester 1976
  • Renaissance Institute Fellow, Duke University, summer 1974
  • Taft Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati, 1970-1971
  • NDEA Title IV Fellow, Brown University, 1966-68
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Brown University, 1965-1966, 1968-1969
  • Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Los Angeles, 1965
  • B.A., summa cum laude, University of California, Los Angeles, 1965


  • L14 2151: Literature in English: Early Texts and Contexts
  • L14 4621: Topics in English Literature: John Milton: Regicide, Radical, and Epic Poet
  • L14 3322: Reading in the Renaissance: Texts and Practices
  • L14 515: Seminar: The Seventeenth Century: The Restoration
John Dryden: Selected Writings

John Dryden: Selected Writings

This volume in the 21st Century Oxford Authors series offers students an authoritative, comprehensive selection of the poetry and prose of John Dryden, the most important poet, dramatist, translator, and literary theorist of the later seventeenth century. He wrote across the tumultuous decades of political and cultural revolution — years stretching from the end of the Cromwellian Protectorate in 1659 through the reign of William III — and he addressed the crucial events of those decades. These were years of unprecedented political revolution, and of a remarkable transformation of English literary culture, with John Dryden at the literary centre. He invented new literary modes including the theatre of spectacle known as heroic drama; he perfected the heroic couplet, a form that became the chief instrument of public poetry; he adapted works of Shakespeare and Milton; he wrote excoriating satire; he brought the translation of classical poetry to new levels of perfection; and throughout his career he wrote works of literary theory that defined his own practices and the literary ethos of his age. By the time that Dryden died in 1700 he had redefined English literary culture; his work recalled and embodied all the genres and modes of early modern literature and anticipated the brilliance of eighteenth-century satire.

This edition represents the span of a long career in its remarkable variety. All the genres in which Dryden wrote are represented: panegyrics, lyrics, odes, epigrams, verse epistles, historical poems, commendatory verse, commemorative poems, religious poems, satires, plays, prologues and epilogues, translations, critical prose, dedications, prefaces, biography, and letters.

Explanatory notes and commentary enhance the study, understanding, and enjoyment of these works, and the edition includes an Introduction to the life and works of Dryden, a Chronology and a Biographical Appendix.