Susannah Monta


John Cardinal O'Hara, C.S.C., and Glynn Family Honors Associate Professor

Specialty: Renaissance/Reformation literature

Degrees: B.A., B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Susannah Monta's research focuses on the relationships between Reformation-era religious changes and literary culture. Her first book, Martyrdom and Literature in Early Modern England (Cambridge UP, 2005, hardback, and 2009, paperback; winner, Book of the Year award from the MLA-affiliated Conference on Christianity and Literature), studies the impact of competing Protestant and Catholic martyrologies on major (Shakespeare, Donne) and traditionally non-canonical (Southwell, Copley) authors. Her new research project, Sacred Echoes: Repetitive Prayer in Reformation-Era Poetics, examines the devotional and aesthetic uses of repetition in early modern prayer, poetry, and rhetoric, arguing that contestations over repetitive devotions illuminate early modern understandings of the nature of authentic prayer, the boundaries and character of Catholicism, the recuperation or rejection of the religious past, and literary creativity itself.  Other areas of research include a study of overlaps and exchanges between traditionally Catholic forms of devotional writing and emergent Protestant ones, and work on miracles in early modern hagiography, biblical exegesis, and Reformation historical writing.  She is the co-editor (with Margaret W. Ferguson, UC-Davis) of Teaching Early Modern English Prose (New York: Modern Language Association, 2010), and is editing Anthony Copley's A Fig for Fortune (1596), the first published response to Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, for Manchester University Press's series on Spenser.   She has edited a special issue of Religion and Literature (41.2; summer 2009) comprising essays from thirty-three international contributors reflecting on the state of scholarship in the field and currently serves as editor of the journal.  She has published articles on topics such as history plays, early modern women writers and patronesses, martyrology, hagiography, devotional poetry and prose, and providential narratives. Essays in progress include co-authored articles (with Thomas S. Freeman) on the use of Foxe in Holinshed's Chronicles and on Foxe and prose style, both for Oxford University Press. She has served as the sole editor of the journal Religion and Literature since 2008.


Recent Publications (selected)

  • “Uncommon Prayer?  Robert Southwell’s Short Rule for a Good Life and Catholic Domestic Devotion in Post-Reformation England” (34 pp.), forthcoming in Redrawing the Map: Early Modern English Catholicism, ed. Lowell Gallagher, from the University of Toronto Press
  • “Anne Dacres Howard, Countess of Arundel, and the Forms of Catholic Patronage” (32 pp.), forthcoming in Tudor-Stuart Women Writers and Early Modern Religious Culture, ed. Micheline White (Ashgate Press)
  • “‘It is requir’d you do awake your faith’: Belief in Shakespeare’s Theatre” (34 pp.), forthcoming in Religion and Drama in Early Modern England, ed. Jane Hwang Degenhardt and Elizabeth Williamson (for Ashgate Press’s series in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
  • Editor, “What is religion and literature?”, special issue of Religion and Literature 41.2 (published 2010 for 2009)
  • Teaching Early Modern English Prose (co-edited with Margaret W. Ferguson), New York: MLA, 2010
  • “Hurricanes and Hampton Court” (18 pp.), forthcoming in Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare Appropriation
  • “Spenser, Wolfram, and the Reformation of Despair," co-authored with Lisi Oliver (26 pp.), forthcoming in Journal of Literary Onomastics
  • “Early Modern Catholicism and the Rewriting of English Literary History,” invited essay for   Literature Compass, 2010
  • “Reading Providence in Early Modern England: The Case of the Duchess of Suffolk,” in Acts of Reading: Interpretation, Reading Practices, and the Idea of the Book in John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, eds. Thomas P. Anderson and Ryan Netzley (University of Delaware Press, 2009), 154-175
  • “The Inheritance of Anne Askew, English Protestant Martyr," Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte / Archive for Reformation History, 94 (2003), pp.134-160; reprinted in 2009 in Ashgate Critical Essays on Women Writers in England, 1550-1700: Volume 1; Early Tudor Women Writers, edited by Elaine V. Beilin for the Ashgate Critical Essays on Women Writers in England, 1550-1700 series (Ashgate, 2009), pp. 315-340
  • “Vaughan's Life of Paulinus: Recharting the Royalist Journey,” in Renaissance Tropologies: The Cultural Imagination of Early Modern England, ed. Jeanne Shami (Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2008), 121-141
  • “Martyrdom in Print in Early Modern England: The Case of Robert Waldegrave,” in More than a Memory: The Discourse of Martyrdom and the Construction of Christian Identity in the History of Christianity, ed. Johan Leemans and Jurgen Mettepenningen (Leuven: Peeters, 2005), 271-294
  • “'Thou Fall'st a Blessed Martyr': Shakespeare's Henry VIII and the Polemics of Conscience,” English Literary Renaissance 30:2 (2000), 262-83; reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism 92 (2005)


Recent Honors and Awards

  • Executive committee, Modern Language Association Literature and Religion Division (2010-2015)
  • 2010: American Council of Learned Societies fellowship
  • 2005: Book of the Year prize, Conference on Christianity and Literature


Contact Information
355 Decio Hall
(574) 631-7201

Postal address
Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556