Clay Greene

Assistant Professor of Literature

Clay Greene is a scholar of early modern literature and thought. He received his Ph.D. in English and Renaissance Studies at Yale. His work focuses on the literary, philosophical, and historical inheritances of early modern Greece and Rome

Dr. Greene’s scholarly interests lie in early modern England's literary and intellectual culture, especially from the 1650s through the 1750s. Within that broad framework, he studies the intersections of philosophy, theology, and poetry, with a focus on the poetic work of John Milton. His dissertation project covered the revival of the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul among English poets and philosophers, arguing that this revival constituted a genuine religious movement of significance. He is fascinated by how individual moral and spiritual considerations always take place against a complete background of metaphysical assumptions about the nature and significance of reality. No era better exemplifies this fact than the late seventeenth century, a time when the “world pictures” of entire societies were in radical flux. Recently, his interests have shifted from the metaphysical to the physical, focusing on the imagination of warfare in early modernity. Still, even here, the focus remains on how beliefs about war crucially depend upon general beliefs about man’s role in the cosmic drama of creation.

Dr. Greene’s next project is a study of the relationship between epic poetry and warfare, focusing on the sublime poetics of physical size and power. "Paradise Lost" is at the center of that study, which also includes William Davenant’s "Gondibert," John Dryden’s "Annus Mirabilis," and short works by Joseph Addison and Aphra Behn.