Associate Professor and Vice Chair
Dr. Butler teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Renaissance/Early Modern periods with a particular specialty in Seventeenth-Century Literature. In both his research and teaching Butler pursues a broadly interdisciplinary approach. His first book, Imagination and Politics in Seventeenth Century England (Ashgate, forthcoming January 2008), draws upon early modern theories of cognition to establish a new political epistemology for the period, one that eschews the polarized conflict between will and reason in favor of a more subtle model. Reading Bacon, Milton, Hobbes, and Caroline court drama Butler demonstrates how the early modern understanding of the imagination's role in thought and belief yielded a more shifting and multi-polar view of political action. Butler currently serves on the MLA Executive Committee on Law and Literature (see research interests below) and is also the department's graduate placement officer for literature.
"Bedeviling Spectacle: Law, Literature, and Early Modern Witchcraft." Yale Journal of Law and Humanities (forthcoming).
"Power in Smoke: Tobacco and Authority in Caroline England." Studies in Philology 106.1 (forthcoming Winter 2009).
"Image, Rhetoric, and Politics in the Early Thomas Hobbes." Journal of the History of Ideas 67.3 (July 2006): 465-87.
"Bacon and the Politics of the Prudential Imagination." Studies in English Literature 46.1 (Winter 2006): 93-111.
Professor Butler's current research focuses on the intersection of law and literature in the early modern period. His particular interest lies with the nature of treason--not only how it was conceived but also how differing forms of circulation (thought, manuscript, print) help shape the period's understanding of this crime. The project draws upon archival research completed at both the Folger and British libraries, as well as printed and staged accounts (ballads, pamphlets, drama) of crime during the period. Butler's research has been supported by external grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Folger Shakespeare Library, as well as internal WSU funds.
At WSU Butler has taught a variety of graduate seminars, ranging from Milton to Trans-Atlantic literature. At the undergraduate level Butler regularly teaches surveys of early modern literature (with a trans-Atlantic focus) and upper-level courses in Shakespeare and Seventeenth-Century literature. In Fall 2007 he will team-teach a senior seminar on print culture with Trevor Bond, librarian at WSU's Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections. He has also taught a first-year writing course focusing on social justice for WSU's Honors program.
- Avery Hall 359