Department of English

University of Toronto

Blake, Liza

Liza Blake Liza_Blake
Assistant Professor; Graduate Faculty; Undergraduate Instructor (UTM)
Office Phone: 905-828-3728
UTM Office Location: North Building B, Room 5246
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 631
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: On leave 2018-2020

B.A., English (The George Washington University), M.Phil., Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University), M.A., Ph.D., English (New York University)

My work attends to the connections among literature, science, and philosophy in pre-modernity, early modernity, and modernity. My book project, Early Modern Literary Physics, argues that early modern authors such as Arthur Golding, Edmund Spenser, George Chapman, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Margaret Cavendish used literary techniques and forms to explore the central concepts of philosophies of nature. I argue for the coherence in the English Renaissance of the idea of physiologia, a philosophy of nature encompassing the basic makeup of the material world and the rules governing it. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries developed a large and varied collection of new interpretations of the physical world, and my project embraces that multiplicity. My chapters demonstrate that literary texts were just as concerned with physics as were treatises, manuals, and other recognizably scientific or proto-scientific forms of writing, and that literary studies has, accordingly, an important role to play in the histories of science and philosophy.

Research Interests
Medieval and Renaissance literature, including drama, poetry, and prose; medieval and early modern dramatic literature and theater practices; poetics; literature and science; literature and philosophy; the history of materialism; critical theory; post-structuralism.



Arthur Golding’s A Moral Fabletalk and Other Renaissance Fable Translations. Ed. Liza Blake and Kathryn Vomero Santos. Tudor and Stuart Translations Series. Cambridge, UK: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2017. [scholarly edition of Aesopian fables translated by William Caxton, Robert Henryson (trans. Richard Smith), Arthur Golding, John Brinsley, and John Ogilby]

Lucretius and Modernity: Epicurean Encounters Across Time and Disciplines. Ed. Jacques Lezra and Liza Blake. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. [edited collection]

Articles and Chapters

“What Does the Wolf Say?: Wolvish Tongues and Animal Language in Coriolanus.” By Liza Blake and Kathryn Vomero Santos. In The Routledge Handbook on Shakespeare and Animals. Ed. Karen Raber and Holly Dugan. New York: Routledge, forthcoming.

“Lyric and Scientific Epistemologies.” In Gathering Force: Early Modern British Literature in Transition, 1557–1623. Volume I. Ed. Kristen Poole and Lauren Shohet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming. [an essay on Donne’s “The Damp” and Bacon’s aphorisms]

“The Grounds of Literature and Science: Margaret Cavendish’s Creature Manifesto.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Science, ed. Evelyn Tribble and Howard Marchitello. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 3-26.

“Allegorical Causation and Aristotelian Physics in Henry Medwall’s Nature.” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 55 (2015): 341–363.

“Recipe for Disaster: Practical Metaphysics.” In Speculative Medievalisms: Discography. Ed. The Petropunk Collective (Eileen A. Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke). New York: Punctum Books, 2013. 201–206.

“Dildos and Accessories: The Functions of the Early Modern Strap-On.” In Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories. Ed. Bella Mirabella. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press, 2011. 130–155. 

“Posthuman Physics.” postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 1 (2010): 39–45.

Digital Projects
Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies, Part I: 

A website featuring Cavendish’s poems about atoms, natural philosophy, and worlds within worlds, as well as the mathematical and geometrical poems of the first "Clasp." The site includes not only edited and modernized versions of prefatory materials and poems, but also full textual notes of all variants among 1653, 1664, and 1668 printings. Parts II-V will be added to the site in Fall 2018.

Works in Progress
Monograph in Progress, “Early Modern Literary Physics.”

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus