Elizabeth H. Sagaser

Associate Professor of English

Office: Miller Library 218 [ campus map ]
Box 5268

Phone: 207-859-5268
Fax: 207-859-5252
Mailing Address:
5268 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8852
Sagaser, Elizabeth H.


B.A. Brown University
Ph.D. Brandeis University

Areas of Expertise

  • poetry and poetics
  • early modern English literature, culture and thought
  • Emily Dickinson and 19th-c. American culture and politics, literary transmission
  • history of ideas, cognitive studies

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
EN115F AEnglish Composition: Voices in Medical Ethics
EN172 BThe English Seminar
EN264 AComparative Studies: Emily Dickinson and English Poetry
EN297 APoetry and the Nature of Being
EN314 A17th-Century Literature and the Natural World

Other Courses Taught

CourseCourse Title
EN493Lyric Self and Other (senior seminar)
EN413Shakespeare in 19th c. America
EN31417th-century Poetry and Politics
EN313Renaissance Poetry
EN271Critical Theory
EN265British Literary History I (1580-1830)

Professional Information

Elizabeth Harris Sagaser's research and teaching focuses on poetry and poetics, early modern culture, intellectual history, literary transmission (particularly 19th c. American engagements with early modern English poetry), and increasingly, the intersections of these fields with cognitive science. She's published articles on Shakespeare, Spenser, Daniel, Mary Sidney Herbert and Milton exploring ways poems not only represent thought, memory, anticipation, anxiety, knowledge and pleasure but also provoke or intervene in these (in the brains/bodies of readers and writers). Her essay, "Flirting with Eternity: Teaching Form and Meter in a Renaissance Literature Course" (link below) argues for historicizing the technical features of poems while simultaneously bringing them to life in the classroom. Her senior seminar, "Lyric Self and Other," brings into conversation questions about selfhood, cognition, representation, empathy and language from philosophy and cognitive science as well as literary theory. Her current projects involve Emily Dickinson as cross-century reader/writer and intersections of poetry, cultural history and cognitive science. She has also published poems in various journals as well as personal essays on children and poetry, playing tennis, and conflicting cultures for women in higher education in the fifties. In progress is an essay on 21st-century libraries and the liberal arts college. The underlying concern of much of her research, teaching and writing is how people have used, and do use, literature--especially poetry-- to grapple with mortality and the failings of our species; to reflect on and experiment with the nature of being; to build and experience community; to listen and respond to others, even across centuries. See Elizabeth's Academia.edu page at https://colby.academia.edu/ElizabethHSagaser

Current Research

curent research at the intersections of poetry (especially Dickinson and Shakespeare), cultural history and cognitive science


"The Renaissance, 1500-1660," article in "England, Poetry of." The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Fourth ed., Roland Greene, et. al. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 414-420, 428.
"Pursuing the Subtle Thief: Teaching Time and Meter in Milton's Short Poems," Approaches to Teaching Milton's Shorter Poetry and Prose, Peter C. Herman, ed. (New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America; 2007), 88-96.

"Elegiac Intimacy: Pembroke's 'To the Angell Spirit of the Most Excellent Sir Philip Sidney,'"
The Sidney Journal 23 (2005): 111-132.
"Flirting with Eternity: Teaching Form and Meter in a Renaissance Poetry Course,"Renaissance Literature and the Questions of Form, ed. Mark Rasmussen (New York: Palgrave at St. Martin's Press, 2002), 185-206.
"'Sporting the While': Carpe Diem and the Cruel Fair in Samuel Daniel's Delia and The Complaint of Rosamond," Exemplaria 10 (1998): 145-170.
"Shakespeare's Sweet Leaves: Mourning, Pleasure, and the Triumph of Thought in the Renaissance Love Lyric," ELH 61 (1994): 1-26.
"'Gathered in Time': Form, Meter (and Parentheses) in The Shepheardes Calender," Spenser Studies 10 (1992): 95-107.
"Poetry, the First Milk," The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/11/2011, Vol. 57 Issue 23): B11-B13
"Holding Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand," Tennis, (March 2007, Miller Sports Group LLC): 90-94.
"'No Proper Sphere' for Mum, but She Made One for Me," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sect.2, Aug.10, 2001, B5.
Double review: Pamela S. Hammons, Poetic Resistance: English Women Writers and the Early Modern Lyric (Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2002) and Sidney L. Sondergard, Sharpening Her Pen: Strategies of Rhetorical Violence by Early Modern English Women Writers (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna UP; London: Associated UP, 2002), Renaissance Quarterly 57.1 (2004): 339-341.
Helen Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Harvard UP, 1997), Sixteenth Century Journal 29 (1998): 858-860.
Barbara Estrin, Laura: Uncovering Gender and Genre in Wyatt, Donne, and Marvell (Duke UP), Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998): 310-311.
"Easter Bunny," The Southern Review 40 (2004): 478; "Sometimes" "I Will," The Southern Review 36 (2000): 534-536; "Eve of Conception (I)," "Eve of Conception (II)," Chicago Review 38 (1992): 65-6; "Love Without Poems,"Prairie Schooner 65 (1991): 115-116.


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