Welcome to the English Department Faculty Page
Joel B. Davis
- PhD University of Oregon
- In rank since 2008
- Sir Philip Sidney and the Sidney Circle, Shakespeare, English Renaissance Literary and Print Culture, Poetics, Rhetoric, and Gender Theory
Noteworthy: The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia and the Invention of English Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), articles and reviews in Studies in Philology, Renaissance Quarterly, Papers on Language and Literature, Shakespearean Criticism, The Sidney Journal, and others.
People sometimes ask me, 'who is this Philip Sidney guy you write about?' And I have to say: Philip Sidney is the paragon of the Elizabethan Age, that's who. Though Sidney lived only 32 years, he changed the course of English literature and a lot more. His unfinished Arcadia is an epic romance and rhetorical tour de force unmatched in any language and was the most popular work of secular literature in English for nearly two centuries after its publication in 1590. His sonnet sequence, Astrophil and Stella, started the Elizabethan sonnet craze and is arguably the greatest sequence in English (Shake-speares Sonnets come nowhere near the formal variety and intricate design of Sidney's sequence). And Sidney's Defence of Poesy is the first full-bodied statement of literary aesthetics in English, a fascinating ethics of writing, and a subtle, urbane, witty rhetorical paradox. If anything, Sidney was more admired on the Continent than in England. The Dutch revere him to this day for all he did in their revolt against Spanish rule: he died of wounds suffered in a raid on Spanish supply lines outside Zutphen. Everybody should read some Sidney -- he's nourishment for the soul.