Jeffrey Peters, Ph.D.

19972021

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Research Interests

I specialize in the literature and culture of early modern – late Renaissance and seventeenth-century – France. In the broadest sense, my scholarship considers the nature of the literary as a property of knowledge. I am interested in the way our ability to know the world often seems to require us to turn away from the world in order to give it meaning. In an early modern poetic tradition that took its authority from Aristotle, our access to knowledge was said to be determined not by ordinary reality as that which is, but by the poetic as that which might be – not poetry as illusion or fiction, but poetry as a statement, or event, of the possible.

I am currently working on two books related to these questions. The first derives from and expands on a special double issue of the journal Romance Quarterly (68, 2 and 68, 3) on the topic of “Early Modern Clouds” which I co-edited in 2021 with Katharina N. Piechocki. This project considers the multiform relations that hold between clouds and the aesthetic and examines the ways clouds embody modes of depiction bound up with the expression of the ineffable or what we call the “poetics of meteorology."

The second book, tentatively titled Are Texts Alive? Humoralism and Literary Force in the Early Modern World, asks what happens when human beings are confronted with the recalcitrance of the material world, when presumably inert objects and things become animated with forces, trajectories, propensities, or tendencies of their own. The primary focus of this research is an early modern concept of literary textuality that derives from a broader preoccupation in Western humanism with an apparent animism of the material world in the form of the humors, the fluids and forces that were understood to circulate not only in the human body, but in the earth and cosmos themselves. Art itself, in the formulation of many early modern thinkers, seems to unfold with something akin to a cosmic wind in the sense that it may be recognized by way of its material effects while the cause of its formulations remain out of reach of our understanding.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Univ Of Michigan-Ann Arbor

1996

Master of Arts, Univ Of Michigan-Ann Arbor

1993

Bachelor of Arts, Lawrence University

1990

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