Elizabeth B. Bearden

Position title: Professor of English

Languages: English. Fluent Spanish. Advanced reading knowledge of Latin, French, and Italian. Reading knowledge of Portuguese.

Research Interests: Early modern prose and poetry, reception of antiquity, comparative literature, formal and philosophical approaches to literary study, disability studies.

Education: Ph.D. New York University; A.B. Princeton University.

Departments: Department of English (departmental profile here).

Undergraduate Courses: Topics include: early modern literature, rhetoric, the reception of antiquity, poetry and prose, word-image relations, and disability studies.

Graduate Courses: The Sidney Circle; Ekphrasis: Word and Image from Antiquity to the Renaissance; Travel Writing; and Disability in Early Modern Literature.

Selected Publications:

Bearden’s first book, The Emblematics of the Self: Ekphrasis and Identity in Renaissance Imitations of Greek Romance, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012. Her second book, Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability, was recently published in the University of Michigan Corporealities: Discourses of Disability series in 2019 and was the winner of the Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities. She has published articles in PMLAJEMCS, Ancient Narrative Supplementum,  Arizona Journal for Hispanic Cultural Studies, and E-Humanista/Cervantes. She has also directed a digital humanities project documenting the funeral of Sir Philip Sidney.

Her next book project, titled Monstrous Kindes: Body, Space, and Narrative in Early Modern Literary Representations of Disability, theorizes physical disability in Renaissance conduct books and treatises, travel accounts and plays, the picaresque, wonder books, essays, and early novels. The cross-section of texts is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione and Cervantes into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange. Its methodology takes a neoformal and philosophical approach to premodern formulations of monstrous bodies, spaces, and narratives, which continue to shape our understandings of disability today.

In addition, Professor Bearden was awarded a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for the 2022-23 academic year. The position allows for uninterrupted curiosity-driven research among a community of scholars at one of the world’s foremost centers for intellectual inquiry. Each year, IAS welcomes more than 200 of the world’s most promising post-doctoral researchers and scholars who are selected and mentored by a permanent Faculty, each of whom are preeminent leaders in their fields. During her stay, Professor Bearden will work on her third monograph, “Crip Authority: Disability and the Art of Consolation in the Renaissance” (advanced contract U of Michigan P). This book continues Bearden’s research on the history of disability with an emphasis on how disabled authors in the Renaissance from Petrarch to Milton discussed their lived experience of disability.