Achsah Guibbory

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English

Achsah Guibbory, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English, joined the faculty of Barnard in 2004, after teaching at the University of Illinois for many years. At Barnard, her teaching specialties include Milton, Donne, seventeenth-century literature and nation-formation, and Christian/Jewish relations and religious identities in the early modern period. She is affiliated with Barnard's Medieval and Renaissance studies program. Her new book, Returning to John Donne, has just been published by Ashgate (February 2015). Her previous book, Christian Identity, Jews, and Israel in Seventeenth-century England, published by Oxford University Press (2010), won the John T. Shawcross Award from the Milton Society of America. The research for the Christian Identity book was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship (2002) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008). Her other publications include Ceremony and Community from Herbert to Milton (Cambridge University Press, 1998), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne (2006), and numerous journal articles and book chapters on seventeenth-century literature and culture.

Her scholarship and teaching have been recognized with a number of other awards, including the Harriet and Charles Luckman Undergraduate Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Illinois, awards from the John Donne Society for distinguished article of the year ("Oh let me not serve so': The Politics of Love in Donne's Elegies," in ELH, 1990), and for mentoring young scholars (2009), and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Iona College (2010).

Professor Guibbory has served as president of both the Milton Society of America and the John Donne Society.

Building on her previous publications, she currently is extending her exploration of Christian-Jewish relations and religious identity into the twentieth-century.

Academic Focus: 

Seventeenth-century literatures and culture
Religious history and interfaith relations
Religion and national identity



Seventeenth-century Poetry and Prose

English Colloquium: Renaissance and Reformation

English Colloquium: Enlightenment

Senior Seminar: topics include: John Donne and Friends; Sex,
    Spirituality (and Sin);  Renaissance Love Poetry: Erotic and Devotional

Awards & Honors: 

John T. Shawcross Award from the Milton Society of America for Christian Identity, Jews, and Israel in Seventeenth-Century England, 2010

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, from Iona College, 2010

Award for Distinguished Service from the John Donne Society, for supporting and mentoring younger scholars, 2010

Guggenheim Fellowship, 2008

National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship, 2002

President of the Milton Society of America, 2001

Executive Committee of the Seventeenth-Century English Literature Division of Modern Language Association, 1999-2004

Executive Committee of the Literature and Religion Division of Modern Language Association, 2006-2012

President of the John Donne Society, 1996-1997

University of Illinois, Harriet and Charles Luckman  Undergraduate Distinguished Teaching Award, 1995

University of Illinois, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, William F.Prokasy Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 1995

John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne Studies 1990, for article, “‘Oh let mee not serve so’: The Politics of Love in Donne’s Elegies,” published in ELH, 1992

Professional Affiliations: 

Modern Language Association

Milton Society of America (past president)

Renaissance Society of America

John Donne Society (past president)

Editorial Boards:

The John Donne Journal

Milton Quarterly

Studies in English Literature

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

"Not all Donne: The Significance of Donne's Libertine Poetry," opening plenary paper, for the Reconsidering John Donne Conference, Oxford University, Lincoln College, March 23, 2015

“Donne, Milton, and Spinoza: Cross-Confessional Notions of Toleration in the Seventeenth Century,” RSA, NYC, March 28, 2014

“British-Israelism and the Jews: England, Palestine, America, from the 17th century to the 20th Century,” Sheehan Memorial Lecture, University of Memphis, November 21, 2013

“Conversion Anxiety, Messianic Longing, and Christian/Jewish Relations in England and Palestine,” at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School’s Colloquium in Religious History, December 5, 2012

“National Identity and Narratives of Israel,” the Daniel S. Collins Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, April 10, 2012

“Nation and Narratives of Israel,” Folger Shakespeare Library Conference on the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, Washington, DC, September 29-October 31, 2011

“Journeys and Discoveries: On being a Scholar,” Keynote Honors Address, Iona College, October 24, 2011 (at being given an honorary doctorate)

“Devotion and the Temple of God,” plenary talk at the “George Herbert Conference: Locating George Herbert,” Wales, October 15, 2011

“Christian Identity and Israel: The Case of Seventeenth-century England”, The Robert Knoll annual lecture, University of Nebraska, November 5, 2009

“Biblical Prophets, 1649-1660,” at the Symposium on “Community-making and Cultural Memory: Literature and Religion in the British Isles, 1558-1689,” Turku, Finland, August 17-20, 2006

“Anna Trapnel and Prophetic Identity,” session on Anna Trapnel, Renaissance Society of America, San Francisco, March 25, 2006

“Eccentric Jewish Experience as Readerly Authority,” in session, “What’s religion got to do with it?” sponsored by the Division on Religion and Literature, Modern Language Association, Washington, DC, December 28, 2005

“The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple in Early Modern England,” at the workshop on “Religious Cultures in Early Modern England: Tradition, Authority, Heterodoxy,” Ben-Gurion University, Israel, May 23-25, 2005



The Map of Time: Seventeenth-Century English Literature and Ideas of Pattern in History (Urbana, 1986)

Ceremony and Community from Herbert to Milton: Literature, Religion, and Cultural Conflict in Seventeenth-Century English Literature (Cambridge, 1998; paper 2006)

The Cambridge Companion to John Donne (Cambridge, 2006)

Christian Identity, Jews, and Israel in Seventeenth-century England, (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Returning to John Donne (Ashgate, 2015)


Guest Editor of Special Issue:

 Interpreting “Aire and Angels”, special issue of the John Donne Journal, 9 (1990)


Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

“Donne’s Religion: Montagu, Arminianism, and Donne’s Sermons, 1624-1630,” English Literary Renaissance, 31.3 (2001), 412-39

“Religious Reading and Writing in an Age of Bloodshed,” in The Blackwell Companion to British Literature, ed. Robert DeMaria, Jr., Heesok Chang, and  Samantha Zacher, 4 vols. (London:Wiley Blackwell, 2014), volume 2

“Commonwealth, Chosenness and Toleration: Reconsidering the Jews’ Readmission to England and the Idea of an Elect Nation,” in Religious Tolerance in the Atlantic World: Early Modern and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Eliane Glaser (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 171-92

Paradise Lost and the Jews,” in MLA Approaches to Teaching Milton’s Paradise Lost, second edition, ed. Peter Herman (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2012), pp. 35-40

“Afterword: Herrick’s Community, the Babylonian Captivity, and the Uses of Historicism,” in ‘Lords of Wine and Oile’: Community and Conviviality in the Poetry of Robert Herrick, ed. Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly (OUP, 2011), pp. 300-316

“Donne and Apostasy,” in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne, ed. Jeanne Shami, M. Thomas Hester, and Dennis Flynn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 664-77

“Rethinking Millenarianism, Messianism, and Deliverance in Paradise Regained,” in Milton Studies 48, ed. Albert C. Labriola, special volume on “Milton and Historicism” (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2008), 135-59

“England, Israel, and the Jews in Milton’s Prose, 1649-1660,” in Milton and the Jews, ed. Douglas Brooks (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008), pp. 13-34


408B Barnard Hall

Office Hours: 

Spring 2019
T 4:10-5,
R 3-4:30 & by appt.


Ph.D., M.A., University of California, Los Angeles
B.A., Indiana University