Elizabeth H. Sagaser

Associate Professor of English

Office: Miller Library 222 [ campus map ]
Box 5268

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


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

Areas of Expertise

  • poetry and poetics, cognitive literary studies
  • early modern English literature and history
  • Emily Dickinson, transatlantic 19th c.
  • history of ideas

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
EN200 AFoundations of Literary Studies
EN200 BFoundations of Literary Studies
EN313 APoetry and Power in the English Renaissance
EN493N ASeminar: 17th-century Literature and the Natural World

Other Courses Taught

CourseCourse Title
EN493Poetry and Cognition (senior seminar)
EN413Shakespeare in 19th c. America
EN31417th-c. Literature and the Natural World
EN264Emily Dickinson & English Poetry
EN297Poetry and the Nature of Being
EN313Renaissance Poetry

Professional Information

My research and teaching focus 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. I have 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). My 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. My senior seminar, "Poetry and Cognition" (formerly "Lyric Self and Other") poses questions about language and the brain/body, aesthetic experience, attention, memory, empathy, self and other, and literary history. Students read poems from the Renaissance to the present, and bring into conversation ideas from linguistics, philosophy, psychology and cognitive science. My recent research centers on Emily Dickinson’s experiments with Shakespeare, and her experiments environmentally situating the human. The underlying concern of much of my work 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. Links and pdfs to several of my publications can be found below, and additionally, on my Academia.edu page at https://colby.academia.edu/ElizabethHSagaser

Current Research

Current research is at intersections of poetry and poetics, transatlantic poetry, environmental humanities and cogntive literary studies.


Articles and Chapters

"’Tis Centuries - and yet’": Teaching Dickinson and the Presence of the Past."Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin (31.2 / Nov.-Dec. 2019).

"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.

Short Essays

"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.

Campus Opinion

“Denouncing the Demagogue, Aloud and Together,” Colby Echo, March 17, 2016.


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; Additional poems in Chicago Review and Prairie Schooner


The directory information is for individual use only, it may not be retransmitted or published for any reason. It is not to be used for mass solicitations by email, mail, phone, or other means. Sale or other distribution of this document is prohibited by College policy.