Professor and Chair, English
John Wesley is a professor of early modern British literature. His research focuses on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century reception of classical rhetorical theory, mainly in terms of its impact on the theatre, language, and education. He is especially interested in the textual traces of delivery, which is the canon of rhetoric that concerns the vocal and gestural expression of emotion. His publications in this area have engaged debates about early modern acting styles, methods of imitation and authorization, religious devotional practices, and the role of the body in the development of the vernacular. He is currently at work on a critical edition of the Elementarie (1582), a treatise on educational and spelling reform written by the Elizabethan headmaster, Richard Mulcaster.
John has previously taught in Japan, Scotland, and Canada. He completed his PhD as a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of St Andrews, and then, in 2008, joined the University of Toronto as a postdoctoral researcher and instructor. He was hired to Puget Sound in 2011. For the Department of English, John offers courses on Shakespeare, Milton, the Bible as literature, and the history of the English language; he also teaches first-year core seminars on the history of comedy, the problem of evil, and postmodernism.
John was the recipient of a 2016 Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award and the 2020 President’s Excellence in Teaching Award.