Matthew Ritger

|Assistant Professor
Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of English and Creative Writing

I specialize in English literature and culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am particularly interested in connections between historical literature and its wider world, especially moments when renaissance poetry or drama helped to articulate alternative political ideas. I am currently working on a book about what writers such as William Shakespeare and John Milton had to say about England's houses of correction, which were some of the early modern period's first reformist prisons.

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Sanborn, Room 015
HB 6032


  • Ph.D. Princeton University
  • M.A. Princeton University
  • M.F.A. Cornell University
  • B.A. Dartmouth College

Works In Progress

Book Project

Objects of Correction: Literary Humanism and Carceral Institutions in Early Modern England 

Beginning in the 1550s, institutions called houses of correction opened a new era in England's efforts to discipline the country's poorest and most criminalized subjects. Centuries in advance of the penitentiary, these early attempts at prison reform were already seen as cruel failures, and yet nevertheless the ideas, arguments and stories they promoted about labor as a means of changing human behavior — what this study calls the rhetoric of correction — proved an enduring success. By examining how writers including More, Shakespeare and Milton engaged with these institutions and their ideas, Objects of Correction constructs a cultural history of the humanist prison over two early but important centuries. At the same time, the project revives correction as a term for Renaissance literary theory and an overlooked means of literary justification, beyond the familiar commonplaces of instruction and delight.