Elliott Visconsi


Associate Professor of English
Chief Academic Digital Officer
Concurrent Associate Professor of Law

Areas of Research and Teaching: English and American Literature 1550-1800; Shakespeare; Milton; the Restoration; Law, History, and Political Thought; First Amendment Law; Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age; US and Comparative Constitutional Law; Digital Strategy in Higher Education: Mobile Applications.

Degrees: BA, College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts), 1995; PhD, UCLA, 2001; MSL, Yale Law School, 2010

Elliott Visconsi works on literature, law, and political thought in the early modern period, ranging from 1550-1800 in England and the Americas. Among the topics of his research and teaching are Shakespeare, Milton, the literature of the Restoration period, and early American literature and culture. He is also actively working on contemporary First Amendment doctrine and writes on the future of free expression in the digital age.

Visconsi is the creator of The Tempest for iPad (with Katherine Rowe) and the founder of Luminary Digital Media, a software company bringing great humanities content to mobile devices worldwide. The Tempest for iPad project, engineered at Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing, has attracted notice in venues such as The Atlantic, US News & World Report, Fast Company, and the South Bend Tribune. Beyond his academic research, Visconsi works extensively in the area of digital strategy for higher education, and consults for universities, investors, and businesses on digital strategy. In Spring 2013, with the support of Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies, he will be teaching a large lecture course, Intro to the First Amendment: Freedom of Expression in Culture and Law, built with a born-mobile pedagogy using iPad as the main platform.

Research in Progress

  • Four Luminary Shakespeare editions in active development
  • Visconsi's second book, “The Struggle for Civil Religion: The Culture of Church and State in Post-Revolutionary England and America,” describes the sweeping cultural history of the principle of separation of church and state in the 17th century Anglo-American world, suggesting that literary culture plays a deeply influential role in the development of a constitutional sensibility in which the robust separation of church and state is understood to be best for government and for religion. Moreover, the project argues that it is in the domains of the literary that the concept of “civil religion” emerges.
  • “The Jurisprudence of Literariness in the Digital Age,” a long law-review article detailing the development of the First Amendment protection for literary production and the transformative stresses on that doctrine in the wake of the digital age.
  • “Outrageous Opinion in Later Stuart England: The Literary pre-History of English Libel Doctrine” (article)
  • “To Hold and Manifest: Religious Expression and Cultural Constitutionalism in Contemporary Europe” (article). A detailed study of the durable between race and religion in debates about freedom of expression and cultural assimilation in contemporary Europe, as reflected in caselaw, jurisprudence, and fiction.
  • “Citizenship before Rights: Shakespearean Belonging” (book project) is a study of the early modern literary mediation of political belonging in the years before the age of revolutions, which promulgate sweeping and modern dignitary rights of citizenship. Focusing on the plays of Shakespeare, this study tracks structuring concepts include asylum and refugeeism, denizenship, superfluity and statelessness (including slavery), “household” dependency relations, and religious pluralism.

Selected Publications

  • Lines of Equity: Literature and the Origins of Law in Later Stuart England. (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, April 2008).
  • “Religious Pluralism and Democratic Culture: Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers,” in New Directions in Law & Literature, ed. Elizabeth Anker and Bernadette Meyler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).
  • “Seldenism,” The Oxford Handbook to English Law and Literature 1500-1700, ed. Lorna Hutson (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, in press fall 2016).
  • “The Literatures of Toleration and Civil Religion in post-Revolutionary England” in Justice in Early Modern Europe, eds. Don Beecher and Travis deCook, Toronto: Univ of Toronto Press, 2014).
  •  “King Philip’s War and the Edges of Civil Religion in 1670s London,” in Religion, Culture, and the National Community in the 1670s, eds. Tom Corns and Tony Claydon (Univ. of Wales Press, 2009)
  • “The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v. Taylor (1676),” Representations 103 (Summer 2008).
  • “Vinculum Fidei: The Tempest & the Law of Allegiance” Law & Literature 20:1 (Spring 2008).
  • “The First Amendment and the Poetics of Church and State,” Raritan 26:3 (Fall 2006)
  • “A Degenerate Race: English Barbarism in Behn’s Oroonoko and The Widow Ranter,” ELH 69:3 (2002).


Contact Information:

Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 631-0939


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