Michael West


Michael's Affiliations: Phi Beta Kappa

Michael West holds three degrees from Harvard but is sometimes worth listening to nonetheless. His teaching and research interests include: the Classical tradition; Renaissance culture; warfare and Christian heroism; mock-heroic, satire, and comic forms; puns; stylistics, rhetoric, and linguistically oriented criticism; pedagogy; scholarly reviewing; evaluating scholarly journals; the short story; the American Renaissance; Irish literature, and comparative literature—with expertise on Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Thoreau and Joyce.

In addition to counseling students applying to graduate programs in literature, he often works with undergraduates competing in various prize essay competitions throughout the university and nationally.

Research and Publications

Among other honors his book on the American Romantics, Transcendental Wordplay: America’s Romantic Punsters and the Search for the Language of Nature (2000), won Phi Beta Kappa’s national Gauss Award of $2500 as that year's best work of literary scholarship and criticism on any topic. His seventy-odd articles range from Homer to Joyce, from Chaucer to Sherwood Anderson, from the European Renaissance to the American Renaissance, and he’s published verse translations from Latin and French in over a dozen literary quarterlies. For undergraduates he’s authored "Advice to Students Considering Graduate Work in English".


  • The Short Story in Context
  • Introduction to Shakespeare
  • Introduction to Critical Reading
  • Formative Masterpieces
  • Introduction to American Literature
  • American Literature to 1860
  • Renaissance in England
  • Advanced Shakespeare
  • The Roaring 20's
  • Irish Literature
  • Satire
  • The American Short Story 1820-1920
  • Work and Play in Literature
  • Thoreau and Frost

Service and Other Duties

  • Department Internship and Placement Committee
  • Advisor for Undergraduates Considering Graduate Work in Literature
  • Chair, Selection Committee, Phi Beta Kappa Xi of Pa
Research Interests

English Renaissance, 19th-c American, Irish