Paul Cefalu is the Frank Lee and Edna M. Smith Professor, Department of English, at Lafayette College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1999,  and his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1988. At Lafayette College he routinely teaches courses in seventeenth-century/early modern English literature, with occasional forays into contemporary literary theory and disability studies.

Paul has just completed a manuscript entitled The Johannine Renaissance in Early Modern English Literature and Theology (Oxford University Press, 2017). The argument of the book is that John the Apostle’s Fourth Gospel and First Epistle are central to fateful sixteenth- and seventeenth-century debates on a range of topics, including the Lord’s Supper, Trinitarianism/anti-Trinitarianism, divine agape, the figure of Mary Magdalene, and Antinomian dissent during the civil war years. Each chapter focuses on one of these topics, and includes close readings of poems by Herbert, Donne, Vaughan, Crashaw, Traherne, Trapnel, and Milton to point out the important ways in which seventeenth-century religious writings are shaped by a Johannine poetics focused on discipleship misunderstanding, realized eschatology, John’s “high” Christology, and a theology of comfort and personal assurance.

A version of a chapter of this manuscript entitled “Johannine Poetics in the Devotional Lyrics of George Herbert” is forthcoming in ELH (2015).

Also forthcoming is a special issue of Literature and Theology on cognitive theory, religion, and literature that Paul is co-editing with Julia Reinhard Lupton.

Paul has published the following books: Tragic Cognition in Shakespeare’s Othello: Beyond the Neural Sublime (Shakespeare Now! Series, Bloomsbury, 2015); The Return of Theory in Early Modern Studies, Volume II, eds. Paul Cefalu, Gary Kuchar, and Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2015); Moral Identity in Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2004); Revisionist Shakespeare: Transitional Ideologies in Texts and Contexts (Palgrave, 2004); Early Modern English Literature and Contemporary Theory: Sublime Objects of Theology (Palgrave, 2007), and The Return of Theory in Early Modern English Studies: Tarrying with the Subjunctive, co-edited with Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave, 2011).

Paul received a 2013-14 long-term fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library in support of his work-in-progress entitled The Mind and Body of God: Divine Accommodation and Anthropomorphism in Early Modern English Culture. This book aims to provide the first book-length account of the theory and practice of divine accommodation in early modern English culture. Accommodation, the notion that God deigns to lower himself to creaturely ability, derives from the Aristotelian concept of oikonomia, as well as the patristic concept of dispensatio. Introductory chapters track the etymological vicissitudes of the concept from the classical through early modern periods, giving particular attention to the Reformed account of accommodation which Jean Calvin famously described as a mode of divine “baby-talk.” Later chapters assess the appropriation of the term in early modern devotional poetry, Renaissance drama, negative theology, iconophobia, and antitrinitarian debates during the English Interregnum.

Paul can be reached at

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-34697237-1’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);