Ed Simon


Ed Simon is an editor at Berfrois, a British magazine of “Literature, Ideas, Tea,”  a contributing editor for the History News Network, and a staff writer at The Millions, which the New York Times has called the “indispensable literary site.” A scholar of early modern religion and literature, he is a regular contributor at several different sites where he covers literature, religion, and culture, and is the author of several books, including America and Other Fictions, as well as Furnace of this World; or, 36 Observations about Goodness, and The Anthology of Babel, both to be released in 2019, and Printed in Utopia: The Renaissance’s Radicalism to be released in 2020. Additionally, his work is featured in several different multiauthor anthologies.

In addition to his writing, he volunteers his time as the Editor-at-Large for The Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of The Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as being an associate for the Boston chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network progressive think tank.

Currently working as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Literature at American University in Washington DC, he earned his PhD in English from Lehigh University in 2017. His essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review Daily, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Aeon, Nautilus, Atlas Obscura,  Jacobin, Berfrois, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Millions, Literary Hub, The Fortnightly Review, Tablet Magazine, Mental Floss, Jewish Renaissance, Commonweal, The Dublin Review of Books, Marginalia at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Harriet the Blog of the Poetry Foundation, Salon, Quartz, Tikkun, The Public Domain Review, The Revealer, Killing the Buddha, and Belt Magazine among others. His articles have been frequently republished at sites like Arts & Letters Daily, 3 Quarks Daily, Grub Street, The Rumpus, The New England Review, Brewminate, The Browser, and Real Clear Religion.  Essays of his have appeared in anthologies, and he is a Puschcart Award nominated author. He is one of the founding members of the International Society for Heresy Studies, and was previously the assistant editor to both the Journal of Heresy Studies as well as the society’s newsletter ExCommunicated for which he wrote the regular “Featured Heretic” column.

His academic scholarship focuses on seventeenth-century transatlantic poetic narratives, and in particular the ways in which non-conformist Protestant theology and geographic thinking generated eschatological justifications for British colonization in the New World. His dissertation and current monograph project The American Strand: Directional Poetics and Apocalypse in the Early Modern Atlantic uses contemporary spatial theory and political theology to read poets like George Herbert, Anne Bradstreet, George Wither, Michael Drayton, John Denham, William Alexander, Cotton Mather and others. In this work Simon develops new theories about the formation of national identity through literature, as well as around issues of national generic categorization. He develops a critical vocabulary which helps to identify the origins of much of what we think of as archetypal American Studies myth and symbol school terminology not in nineteenth-century America but rather in seventeenth-century Britain. As a result of this he argues that much of what we think of as canonical American literature comprises what could be thought of as a scriptural corpus of writings which could be associated with a “religion” which takes “America” as a concept as the center of its devotion.

Material from The American Strand: Directional Poetics and Apocalypse in the Early Modern Atlantic has or will appear in several peer-reviewed academic anthologies focusing on both eschatology and prophetic rhetoric in the early modern Puritan Atlantic. In addition to work related to his dissertation he has also been published on other topics related to early modern British and early American religion and literature, including published papers on William Blake, Unka Eliza Winkfield’s The Female American, John Milton and other subjects. He is currently working on several papers and book chapters, as well as material related to the teaching of literature at the post-secondary level. Simon has presented at dozens of national academic conferences in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, and France. Articles and book reviews by him have or will appear in the Journal of the Northern Renaissance, The Sixteenth Century Journal, Theopoetics, This Rough Magic, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Milton Studies among others.

He has taught English composition and literature as well as interdisciplinary humanities at several institutions of higher education, including Point Park University and Duquense University in Pittsburgh, Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, and Bentley University in Waltham, MA. In the past he has taught courses such as “Composition and Cultural Studies,” “Questioning American Exceptionality,” “Sailing to Utopia,” “Envisioning Alternate Worlds,” “The Seven Deadly Sins in Literature,” “Satan in Literature and Culture,”  “Everyone is a Critic” and “Writing the Election.” He has worked at both Point Park University and Duquesne University, and frequently presents on pedagogical issues at the Northeastern Modern Language Association.

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