Department Chair:
Jeffrey Pence

Administrative Assistant:
Sue Elkevizth

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8570
Fax: (440) 775-8684

Rice Hall 130
10 North Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Wendy Hyman

Wendy Hyman

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information


Rice Hall 113
(440) 775-8219

Personal Office Hours:
By appointment

Wendy Hyman

Wendy Hyman

Educational Background

  • B.A., Smith College, 1997
  • M.A., Harvard University, 2000
  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2005

My scholarship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries comprises a number of areas: lyric poetry and Shakespearean drama; gender studies and erotic literature, the history of science and technology, visual and material culture, and poetic theory and mythology.

I offer a wide variety of courses, including Shakespeare at all levels of the curriculum, Renaissance literature (surveying poetry, prose, and drama), The Poetry of Love and Seduction in the Renaissance, a freshman seminar on cyborgs and robots in literature and film, a senior seminar called Words and Things, a class on the history of the book, and other comparative courses: Visuality, Materiality, and Renaissance Literature; Literature and the Scientific Revolution; and Shakespeare and Metamorphosis. Almost all of my classes include field trips and “labs” in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Mudd Library Special Collections, the Clarence Ward Art Library, and/or the Oberlin College letterpress studio. One of the most compelling experiences I have had at Oberlin was—with the help of students in my senior seminar and my colleague Wendy Kozol—curating an exhibit called “The Body: Looking in and Looking Out” at the AMAM (http://www.oberlin.edu/amam/lookinginlookingout.html). Teaching literature and art comparatively also brought me to develop an international January term course called “Shakespeare in Italy,” which is generously subsidized by the Oberlin College Julie Taymor ‘74 Fund for World Culture.

My book manuscript on the intellectual life of sixteenth and seventeenth-century erotic literature, “Impossible Desire: Seizing Knowledge and Time in Renaissance Erotic Poetry,” is currently under review at a major university press. “Impossible Desire,” the first monograph on the carpe diem motif in English literature, recovers the role of erotic invitations in theorizing the limits of the possible. I demonstrate that a poetic trope whose classical form was an expression of pragmatic Epicureanism became, during the upheaval of the Reformation, an unlikely but effective vehicle for articulating skepticism, along with other unconventional and even seemingly impossible ideas. I have begun a second book project titled “‘Self-figured knot’: Myth, Fiction, and Meaning in Shakespeare and Spenser.” Its aim is to theorize the interactions among different fictional modes—allegory, mythology, romance, riddle, dream vision, and ‘plain tale’ (citing Henry V)—in literature at the turn of the seventeenth century. I am also the editor of the essay collection, The Automaton in English Renaissance Literature (Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011), which contains my essay, “’Mathematical experiments of long silver pipes’: The Renaissance Trope of the Mechanical Bird.”

Other selected publications include: “‘Deductions from metaphors’: Figurative Truth, Poetical Language, and Early Modern Science,” The Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature, Science, and Culture, eds. Evelyn Tribble and Howard Marchitello (November, 2016); “Physics, Metaphysics, and Religion in Lyric Poetry,” Blackwell Companion to British Literature, vol. 2 (1450-1660), ed. Robert DeMaria, et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2014): 197-212; “‘For now hath time made me his numbering clock’: Shakespeare’s Jacquemarts,” Early Theatre 16.2 (December 2013): 145-58; “Building a Book Studies Program at a Liberal Arts College” (with Laura Baudot) in Past or Portal: Teaching Undergraduates Using Special Collections and Archives, ed. Peggy Seiden, Eleanor Mitchell, and Suzy Taraba (ACRL, 2012). 206-211; “Seizing Flowers in Spenser’s Garden and Bower,” English Literary Renaissance 37.2 (May 2007): 193-214; “The Unfortunate Traveller and Authorial Self-Consciousness,” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 45.1 (Winter 2005): 23-41.