Matthew Davis

Assistant Professor

Dawson's Row 202

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 9:30 to 11:00 AM, in Dawson's Row; Thursday afternoons, 1:00 to 4:00, via Zoom as needed; email mmd6w to make an appointment.
Class Schedule: TR 8:00-9:15


Ph.D.    University of Virginia, 2000
M.A.    University of Virginia, 1995
B.A.      Dartmouth College, 1989

Recent Articles

  • “Four Hypotheses concerning The Vanity of Human Wishes,” forthcoming in Volume 26 of The Age of Johnson.
  • “Johnson, American Radicalism, and the Modes of Migration,” forthcoming in Volume 25 of The Age of Johnson.
  • “Samuel Johnson and the Allen Family,” Age of Johnson 24 (2021): 32-62.
  • “These Kings of ME: The Provenance and Significance of an Allusion in Johnson’s Taxation No Tyranny,1650–1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era 26 (2021): 42–64.
  • “Two Ways Down: Making Sense of James Moffett’s ‘The Suicides of Private Greaves’,” Journal of the Short Story in English 71 (August 2018): 227–249.
  • “My Master Calls Me: Authority and Loyalty in King Lear,” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 70.1 (2018): 59–78.
  • “Head Over Heels for Eve: An Interpretation of Frost’s ‘Never Again Would Birds’ Song Be the Same’,” Literary Imagination 19.2 (2017): 113–129.
  • “Lydiat’s Life: A Note on The Vanity of Human Wishes,” Johnsonian News Letter 68.1 (2017): 24–29.
  • “Consignment in Hardy’s ‘The Impercipient’,” The Hardy Society Journal 13.2 (Summer 2017): 93–97.
  • “Denying that the Sun Makes the Day: An Allusion to Fontenelle’s Histoire des Oracles in Taxation No Tyranny,Johnsonian News Letter 67.2 (2016): 38–42.
  • “The Memes of a Lexicographer,” Johnsonian News Letter 67.2 (2016): 22¬–24.
  • “33 Holywell in the Early Eighteen Century,” Wadham College Gazette (2013): 104–5.
  • “Diagnosing Dr. Johnson,” Johnsonian News Letter 64.2 (2013): 22–24.
  • “Johnson and Jones of Nayland,” Johnsonian News Letter 64.2 (2013): 11–16.
  • “Johnson and the Cat Parasite,” Johnsonian News Letter 64.2 (2012): 46–47.
  • “Ask for the Old Paths: Samuel Johnson and the Nonjurors,” in The Politics of Samuel Johnson, ed. H. Erskine-Hill and J. C. D. Clark (Palgrave, 2012), 112–167 (reprint, with revisions).
  • “Oxford Oath-Taking: The Evidence from Thomas Hearne’s Diaries,” Age of Johnson 22 (2012): 169–189.
  • “The Family Background of Francis Stewart: Some New Findings,” Johnsonian News Letter 59.2 (2008): 38–52.
  • “Johnson, Genre, and Lycidas,” in Approaches to Teaching the Shorter Works of John Milton, ed. Peter C. Herman (MLA, 2007), 171–174.
  • Fructus Sanctorum: A Newly Identified Title from Johnson’s Library,” Johnsonian News Letter 57.1 (2006): 29–33.
  • “The Laconic Response: Spartan and Athenian Mindsets in Robert Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’,” Literary Imagination 7.3 (2005): 289–305.
  • “Elevated Notions of the Right of Kings: Stuart Sympathies in Johnson’s Notes on Richard II.” Samuel Johnson in Historical Context, ed. H. Erskine-Hill and J. C. D. Clark (2002), 239–264.
  • “The Most Fatal of All Faults: Samuel Johnson on Prior’s Solomon and the Need for Variety.” Papers on Language and Literature 33.4 (1997): 422–437.

Research Interests

Samuel Johnson, Renaissance and eighteenth-century English literature, Shakespeare, history, theology, philosophy, political theory, Jacobitism, poetry, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, William Blake, orality & literacy, writing systems, linguistics, narratology, speech act theory, pragmatics, hermeneutics, history of the language, short fiction, digital humanities, Russian Literature, great books, history of ideas, philosophy of science, Big History, education, psychology of reading, psychology of personality, biography, documentary film