About Bill Engel
(View My Full CV here) [updated: 2016 December 19]
I am the Nick B. Williams Professor of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where I specialize in Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Roots of Western Literature, and Literary Theory and Criticism. It is also my pleasure periodically to take on the Anglo-Saxon world and medieval literature, 16th century English poetry, Renaissance drama, Miton, 19th century American fiction, modern British poetry, and contemporary American drama. For many summers I was Assistant Director at Camp Horseshoe, overseeing the fishing, fencing, and wilderness programs.
In addition to contributing to collections of essays in early modern studies and publishing a variety of encyclopedia entries, I am the author of five books: four on intellectual history and literature, Mapping Mortality (Univ of Mass Press, 1995), Death and Drama (Oxford Univ Press, 2002), Chiastic Designs (Ashgate, 2009 [Routledge paperback, 2016]), and Early Modern Poetics in Melville and Poe: Memory, Melancholy, and the Emblematic Tradition (Ashgate, 2012 [Routledge paperback, 2016]), which was named a YANKEE BOOK PEDDLER LITERARY ESSENTIALS TITLE FOR 2013; as well as a book on teaching and learning, Education & Anarchy (Univ Press of America, 2001). Most recently (Sept 2016), along with co-editors Rory Loughnane and Grant Williams, I have published, with Cambridge Univeristy Press, The Memory Arts in Renaissance England: A Critical Anthology. For my current projects, please go to Books in Progress. My reviews of books appear with some regularity in journals such as Seventeenth-Century News, Renaissance Quarterly, The Sewanee Review, and Carmina Philosophiae: Journal of The International Boethius Society.
I carried out several years of intensive dissertation research, primarily at the Warburg Institute in London (supervised by Charles Schmitt and J.B. Trapp), and at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California (where I was thoroughly if informally tutored by John Steadman and Fredson Bowers). In 1987 I earned my Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, with a dissertation (directed by Jonas Barish) on "literary and mystical design" in seventeenth-century prose. I went on to teach Humanities, English literature, and graduate seminars in early modern intellectual history at Vanderbilt University, where I won the Ernest A. Jones Award for excellence in undergraduate advising and, in 1995, coordinated the Early Modern Studies Group at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities (Visual Representation and Material Culture).
Beginning in 1996 as Visiting Scholar at Harvard's Philosophy of Education Research Center (collaborating with Israel Scheffler), I developed a program using the classics in educational leadership seminars that led to my providing Continuing Legal Education credits in Ethics and Professionalism for lawyers in the mid-South, as well as offering a series of trustee education seminars for professional organizations. In addition to serving as an Educational Consultant for the Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education and subsequently the Nashville Holocaust Memorial for which I wrote the Program Notes "About the Holocaust." I have also worked as a design team consultant on a variety of projects ranging from middle school math and life-skills programs to integrating arts-based curriculum system-wide. I have served periodically as an adjudicator for Geiko Life Fellowships and the Golden Key Honor Society through Internatinal Scholaship and Tuition Services. Born in Texas and raised in Alabama, I continue to have an abiding interest in Southern literature and history, especially the work of the Fugitives ("Agrarians") and the poetry of Wendell Berry.
Among the professional organizations with which I am affiliated are The International Congress on Medieval Studies, International Boethius Society, Renaissance Society of America, Milton Society of America, Poe Studies Association, World Association for Case Method Research and Application, and the Modern Language Association in which I served a three-year term on the Delegate Assembly. I have been on the executive boards of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference and currently serve as the Chair of the Baiton Book Prize; I am the Discipline Representative of "Emblems" (2015-17) for the Renaissance Society of America, and am on the Editorial Board of Renaissance Quarterly. I have read and assessed books in manuscript for presses such as Palgrave-Macmillan and HarperCollins, and am affiliated with the Poe Museum in Richmond.
A life-long fencer (a few years back ranked nationally in epee), I am a certified foil instructor and an approved director of foil, epee, and sabre through the United States Fencing Association. I am currently in charge of the fencing program at Sewanee. I have led workshops for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival and choreographed stage combat for productions including All's Well that Ends Well, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Calderon's Life is a Dream. More recently I served as the dramaturge for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival's production of Hamlet and led workshops about the play for regional teachers.
As the father of three grown children, I became quite expert at outdoors games, driver education, and enforcing curfews (sometimes not so successful at the latter). For fifteen years with my trusty Irish terrier, Albie, by my side, I discovered many a deer trail, frog hollow, possum lair, and skunk den; and, beginning July 2013, the adventures continue with Rory Killian ("Rory, the dog"). In addition to enjoying a suburban enclosed-garden, I delight in wandering old cities (most memorably Jerusalem and Rome, Tallinn and Munich, Krakow and Amsterdam) and taking in theatre, opera, chamber concerts, and the odd gallery. I have been told I shoot a passable game of pool; and I can still tie a fly, read a river, and navigate by the stars.