Barbara K. Lewalski
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Barbara K. Lewalski
Barbara Kiefer Lewalski
Born(1931-02-22)February 22, 1931
DiedMarch 2, 2018(2018-03-02) (aged 87)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work

Barbara Josephine Lewalski (néeKiefer; February 22, 1931 - March 2, 2018)[1][2] was an American academic, an authority on Renaissance literature particularly known for her work on John Milton.[3]

Early life

Born in Topeka, Kansas to John Kiefer, a farmer, and Vivo (néeHutton), an elementary schoolteacher and speech therapist, she received her BSE at Emporia State University in 1950 and her AM in 1951. She went on to earn a PhD at the University of Chicago in 1956.[4][5]


Her first book, Milton's Brief Epic: The Genre, Meaning and Art of Paradise Regained, has been praised as a "trail-blazing" work that marshals "great learning in the service of understanding a specific artefact, without swamping the artefact."[6]

Lewalski was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1967,[7] and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1986.[2]

From 1983-2010 she was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English Literature and of History and Literature at Harvard University. From 1956-82 she taught at Brown University, holding the positions of Alumni-Alumnae University Professor from 1976-82, Director of Graduate Studies in English from 1968-72 and Chair of the Renaissance Studies Program from 1976-80.

In 2016, the Renaissance Society of America awarded her the Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award for recognition of her decades of scholarship.[6]

Lewalski died in Providence, Rhode Island at the age of 87. She had congestive heart failure and died of a heart attack on March 2, 2018.[8]


  • Milton's Brief Epic (1966)
  • Donne's "Anniversaries" and the Poetry of Praise: The Creation of a Symbolic Mode (1973)
  • Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century English Lyric (1979)
  • Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (1985)
  • Writing Women in Jacobean England (1993)
  • (editor) The Polemics and Poems of Rachel Speght (1996)
  • The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography (2000)
  • (editor) John Milton, Paradise Lost (2007)


  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (March 29, 2018). "Barbara Lewalski, 87, Milton Scholar and Barrier Breaker, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  2. ^ a b Barbara Lewalski profile. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  3. ^ Raymond, Joad (April 19, 2002). "Milton lost in single-mindedness". Times Higher Education.
  4. ^ "Lewalski, Barbara Kiefer". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Retrieved – via
  5. ^ "English". Harvard University. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b Simpson, James. "Barbara Lewalski Awarded The Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award - Harvard University Department of English". Harvard University Department of English. Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "All Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved .
  8. ^ Moore, Katie (April 3, 2018). "Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, prominent scholar of literature who was born in Topeka, dies at 87". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved .

Further reading

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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