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Alison Bumke

Assistant Professor in Seventeenth-Century Literature and Drama, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I completed my MPhil (2011) and PhD (2015) in English at Queens' College, Cambridge, after receiving my BA (2010) in English from Barnard College, Columbia University. I served as an Official Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Queens' in 2015-16; after that, I was a Fellow Commoner (Research) at Queens'. I also taught English Literature and Language at the Université Paris-Diderot in 2014-15.

Teaching Summary

I teach Renaissance literature to undergraduates and postgraduates. I convene the third-year undergraduate course Reformation and Revolution, and contribute teaching to Drama, Theatre, and… read more

Research Summary

My doctoral dissertation is the basis of my current book project, Eloquent Blood: John Donne's Language of Disease. This study explores how early modern medical culture shaped the form of Donne's… read more

Recent Publications

I teach Renaissance literature to undergraduates and postgraduates. I convene the third-year undergraduate course Reformation and Revolution, and contribute teaching to Drama, Theatre, and Performance; Shakespeare and his Contemporaries on the Page and Stage; Shakespeare, Space, and Place; Early Performance Cultures; and Speculative Fictions. I also supervise undergraduate dissertations.

Current Research

My doctoral dissertation is the basis of my current book project, Eloquent Blood: John Donne's Language of Disease. This study explores how early modern medical culture shaped the form of Donne's writing as much as its content. He mirrored the experience of illness-with its jarring transformations and harrowing uncertainties-in the paradoxes and contradictions for which his work is famous. My doctoral research informed two articles: 'More Than Skin Deep: Dissecting Donne's Imagery of Humours' in The Review of English Studies (September 2015) and 'Cures and Currency in John Donne's Verse Letters to Patrons' in Studies in English Literature (February 2017).

Future Research

My work contributes to a scholarly shift towards reading literature alongside scientific history. My new project, The American Constitution: Medicine and Early American Literature, extends this approach to focus on how early American writers used medical imagery to illustrate their evolving relationships with the natural world, with native cultures, and with their physical and cultural isolation from Europe. I am analysing colonists' verse and sermons alongside the medical correspondence, pamphlets, casebooks, and textbooks being written on both sides of the Atlantic. My study is the first to consider how, for early Anglo-Americans, the process of crafting verse and prose offered a means to comprehend, solidify, and express their shifting sense of identity, which pivoted on their scientific understanding of their new environment.

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