hope college  >  academic  >  english department 


Hope College
Department of English
126 E. 10th St.
Holland, MI 49423
phone: 616.395.7620
fax: 616.395.7134


English Department Faculty

John Cox
DuMez Professor of English

Education: B.A., Hope College (1967); M.A., University of Chicago (1968); Ph.D., University of Chicago (1975).

Expertise: Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare.

Selected Works: Shakespeare and the Dramaturgy of Power (1989); A New History of Early English Drama (1997, Association for Theatre in Higher Education Book of the Year); The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350-1642 (2000, David Bevington Prize finalist); Co-editor, Shakespeare's 3 Henry VI, Third Arden Edition, Arden Shakespeare (2001); Seeming Knowledge: Shakespeare and Skeptical Faith (2007); Julius Caesar (2012).

Distinctions: NEH Fellowship (2004-05); Pew Charitable Trusts Fellowship (1995-96); NEH Summer Stipend (1993); Summer Teaching Appointment (University of California, Berkeley, 1988); NEH Fellowship (1985-86); Summer Teaching Appointment (Harvard, 1979); Mellon Faculty Fellow (Harvard, 1978-79).

Personal Page

Contact: Lubbers Hall 307


Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics (2014).
Written by a distinguished international team of contributors, this volume explores Shakespeare's vivid depictions of moral deliberation and individual choice in light of Renaissance debates about ethics. Examining the intellectual context of Shakespeare's plays, the essays illuminate Shakespeare's engagement with the most pressing moral questions of his time, considering the competing claims of politics, Christian ethics and classical moral philosophy, as well as new perspectives on controversial topics such as conscience, prayer, revenge and suicide. Looking at Shakespeare's responses to emerging schools of thought such as Calvinism and Epicureanism, and assessing comparisons between Shakespeare and his French contemporary Montaigne, the collection addresses questions such as: when does laughter become cruel? How does style reflect moral perspective? Does shame lead to self-awareness? This book is of great interest to scholars and students of Shakespeare studies, Renaissance studies and the history of ethics.
The City in Its Heart (2014).
The City in Its Heart is a worthy initial contribution to the Congregational Histories series. Unlike many congregational histories, The City in Its Heart is not a patchwork quilt of names, events, and dates stitched together with a slender narrative thread. John Cox, DuMez Professor of English at Hope College, takes a topical appraoch to the hundred-year history of Maple Avenue Ministries. His history of this congregation is structured around theological as well as historical themes of call or vocation, engagement and separation, crisis and reconciliation, and remnant.

Julius Caesar (2012).
Julius Caesar is a key link between Shakespeare's histories and his tragedies. Unlike the Caesar drawn by Plutarch in a source text, Shakespeare's Caesar is surprisingly modern: vulnerable and imperfect, a powerful man who does not always know himself. The open-ended structure of the play insists that revealing events will continue after the play ends, making the significance of the history we have just witnessed impossible to determine in the play itself.

John D. Cox's introduction discusses issues of genre, characterization, and rhetoric, while also providing a detailed history of criticism of the play. Appendices provide excerpts from important related works by Lucretius, Plutarch, and Montaigne.

A collaboration between Broadview Press and the Internet Shakespeare Editions project at the University of Victoria, the editions developed for this series have been comprehensively annotated and draw on the authoritative texts newly edited for the ISE. This innovative series allows readers to access extensive and reliable online resources linked to the print edition.

Seeming Knowledge: Shakespeare and Skeptical Faith (2007).
"Seeming Knowledge is impressive not only for its vast, in-depth coverage of Shakespeare's works, but also for its compelling argumentation. John Cox is extremely well-read in early Tudor and Elizabethan theater and also in the works of Erasmus, More, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal and others. His application of these works to Shakespeare is subtle and original. His book is in fact a powerful invitation to rethink our usual understanding of skepticism in the Renaissance and in Shakespeare. By being skeptical of skepticism, Cox profoundly redefines our view of Shakespeare's relation to faith and religion. This work is a major contribution to the field." --Dr. Jean-Christophe Mayer

with Eric Rasmussen, editors, Shakespeare's King Henry VI, Part 3 (2001)
This is a completely new edition of Shakespeare's early history play. Professor Cox wrote the introduction, the notes, the appendices, and the index. The Arden Shakespeare is the foremost scholarly edition of Shakespeare. The first series was published early in the twentieth century; the second, in the mid-twentieth. This is the first series for the twenty-first century.

The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350-1642 (2000)
A complete survey of plays that include staged devils from the beginning of drama in English to the closing of the theaters by parliament in 1642. The book argues that the pattern for staging devils was established in pre-Reformation drama and remained virtually unchanged by the Reformation. Important vestiges of that pattern continued to appear in commercial plays (including two by Shakespeare) until the effective end of the tradition in the mid-seventeenth century.

with David Scott Kastan, A New History of Early English Drama (1997)
This is a collection of twenty-five completely new essays that the editors requested from as many scholars of early drama. The book was planned by eleven former students of David M. Bevington at the University of Chicago, and it is dedicated to him. The book won the Book of the Year Award for 1997 from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and one essay, by Peter W. M. Blayney, won a separate award from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. The foreword is by Stephen J. Greenblatt.

Shakespeare and the Dramaturgy of Power (1989)
This is a study of Shakespeare's plays against the background of medieval religious drama. The argument is that the radical social and political dimensions of Shakespeare are often, anticipated by his prececessors on the English stage, who therefore offer a more credible explanation for the plays' outlook than those typically offered by New Historicism and Cultural Materialism. In short, the book argues that postmodern critics of Shakespeare are often right but for the wrong reasons.