Loyola University Chicago

Department of English


James Biester

Title/s:  Associate Professor

Specialty Area: Early Modern literature and culture; history of literary theory; history of rhetoric; elite and popular culture

Office #:  Crown Center 479

Phone: 82793



My scholarly interests range from the history of literary theory and the history of rhetoric to modern poetry, but the main focus of my work has been early modern literature and culture, particularly the literature and culture of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After devoting much of my earlier attention to the production of wonder in lyric poetry, I have more recently focused on intersections between elite and popular culture, and on the representation of magic. I have taught graduate seminars as well as undergraduate courses on those topics, and also frequently teach introductory courses in poetry and in Shakespeare. My teaching for English majors is usually devoted to the study of sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry and prose.


BA, Stanford University

MA, Ph.D., Columbia University

Program Areas

British Literature and Culture, Medieval and Early Modern Literature Culture, History of Literary Theory, History of Rhetoric

Selected Publications


Lyric Wonder: Rhetoric and Wit in Renaissance English Poetry. Rhetoric and Society Series. Cornell University Press, 1997.


"A Storm Brewing: Inspirations for The Tempest in Marlowe and Jonson," Marlowe Studies: An Annual, 1.1, 2011.

“Shaming the Fool: Jack and Anti‑Jack," English Literary Renaissance, vol. 31, no. 2, Spring 2001.                                                   

“Wit’s Post-mortem: John Constable’s Reflections upon accuracy of style,” The George Herbert Journal, vol. 22, nos. 1 & 2, Fall 1998/ Spring 1999.

“Fancy's Images: Wit, the Sublime, and the Rise of Aestheticism,” in Wonders, Marvels, and Monsters in Early Modern Culture, Ed. Peter G. Platt, University of Delaware Press, 1999.


“Jonson’s Vindication: The Alchemist