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Annual Brown Lecture

(1883 – 1951)

In March or April of every year the department hosts a major literary critic who visits campus for a day, gives a lecture and participates in classes. The lecture is free and open to the campus community as well as the public.

John D. M. Brown graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1906 and joined the Muhlenberg faculty in 1912. Dr. Brown was a remarkably versatile scholar and teacher. He taught courses not only in English and American Literature, but also in Italian, Spanish, French, and Art History. Dr. Brown was especially devoted to the literature of the English Renaissance, particularly to the plays and poems of Shakespeare.

Dr. Brown served as Head of the Muhlenberg English Department from 1927 to 1949. He was honored in his lifetime as the first recipient of the college’s Florence T. Saeger Professorship. In addition, Wittenberg University named him a Doctor of Literature in 1922 and Muhlenberg awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1948, the year before his retirement from the college.

It is through the continuing generosity of the Brown family that the English Department is able to invite the caliber of lecturers listed below.



  • 2018 Claudia L. Johnson, Princeton University, "Speaking Well Enough to be Unintelligible: Jane Austen's Style"
  • 2017 Rita Felski, University of Virginia, "Getting it: Art and Attunement"
  • 2016 Mark McGurl, Stanford University, "Everything and Less: Fiction in the Age of Amazon"
  • 2015 Michael North, University of California Los Angeles, "Narrative and the 'Unexplained Instant'"
  • 2014 Patrick Lonergan, National University of Ireland, Galway "Social Media and Theatre/Social Media as Theatre"
  • 2013 Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame, "Haunting Shakespeare, or King Lear Meets Alice"
  • 2012 Kenneth W. Warren, The University of Chicago,“The Bluest Eye: Toni Morrison and the Post-Segregation Black Writer"
  • 2011 Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University, "The Madness of the Unexpected: Marcel Duchamp and the High/Low Controversy"
  • 2010 Andrew Delbanco, Columbia University, "Melville, our Contemporary"
  • 2009 Marjorie Howes, Boston College, “Yeats’s Graves: Death and Modernism in Last Poems”
  • 2008 Joseph Viscomi, UNC – Chapel Hill, “William Blake’s Enlightened Graphics: Illuminated Books and New Technologies”
  • 2007 John Matthews, Boston University, “Southern Discomfort: The Problem of the South in American Literature”
  • 2006 Alan Wald, University of Michigan, “One Long Conspiracy: Oppositional Novels in Cold War Literature”
  • 2005 Luke Gibbons, University of Notre Dame, “Fracturing the Future: James Joyce,
  • Contingency, and the Irish Narrative”
  • 2004 Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick, “Shakespeare and the Discovery of England”
  • 2003 Martha Nell Smith, University of Maryland, “Emily Dickinson: A User’s Guide”
  • 2002 Alan Sinfield, University of Sussex, “Character in Shakespeare from Bradley to Cultural Materialism”
  • 2001 John F. Callahan, Lewis and Clark College, “That Same Pain, That Same Pleasure: Editing Ralph Ellison”
  • 2000 David Kastan, Columbia University, “Shakespeare and the Printed Book, or, Making a Good Impression”
  • 1999 Nina Auerbach, University of Pennsylvania, “Common Fears: Victorian Monsters Invade America”
  • 1998 Michael Neill, University of Auckland, “Mulattoes, Blacks, and Indian Moors: Othello and Early Modern Constructions of Human Difference”
  • 1997 Terry Hawkes, University of Cardiff, “Bryn Glas”
  • 1995 Michael Bristol, McGill University, “Calvin and Hobbes, or What Was Democracy?:
  • Apprehensions of the Public Sphere in Hamlet”
  • 1994 Jean Howard, Columbia University, “London Places, London Voices and the Staging of England in Shakespeare’s Henriad”
  • 1993 Gerald Graff, University of Chicago
  • 1992 Peter Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania, “Shakespeare and the Reproduction of the Material Text”
  • 1991 Jerome McGann, University of Virginia, “‘My Brain is Feminine’: Byron and the Poetry of Deception”
  • 1990 Harry Berger, Jr., University of California at Santa Cruz, “The Trouble with Edgar:
  • Shakespeare’s King Lear and the Gloucester Family Romance”
  • 1989 Nina Baym, University of Illinois
  • 1988 Stanley Fish, Duke University, “Masculine Persuasive Force: John Donne and Verbal Power”
  • 1987 Christopher Ricks, Boston University, “King Lear and the Double Bind”