John Briggs, Ph.D.

John Briggs (B.A. Harvard; Ph.D. University of Chicago) is the author of Francis Bacon and the Rhetoric of Nature (winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Award from Harvard University Press, 1988) and Lincoln’s Speeches Reconsidered (Johns Hopkins, 2005). In addition to courses in Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, and C. S. Lewis, he teaches the history and theory of rhetoric and composition, as well as a course on Lincoln’s speeches. He has published articles and book chapters on Shakespearean catharsis; the political underplot of Timon of Athens; defective scientific forms of proof in Othello; Bacon, science, and religion; Lincoln and Shakespeare; Frederick Douglass and Macbeth, the neglected role of literature in the teaching of composition; Peter Elbow and the pedagogical paradox; and the idea of magic in the rhetorical theory and practice of Elbow and Kenneth Burke. An essay on ideas as phenomena in the work of Bacon and E. O. Wilson has appeared in Francis Bacon and the Refiguring of Modern Thought (Ashgate, 2005). Recent projects include a study of catharsis and poetic justice in Romeo and Juliet and Lincoln’s reading of tyranny in Macbeth. Briggs is currently serving as the Director of the University Writing Program.  He was the winner of the 1995-96 Faculty Teaching Award. He has been chair of the CHASS Executive Committee and a consultant to the College Board. Currently, he is on the editorial board of Literary Imagination.


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