Rebecca Rush

Rebecca Rush

Associate Professor; Director of Graduate Placement, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Concentration

Bryan Hall 338-B

Office Hours: Online: Wednesdays and Fridays 10:00-11:30 am. Please email me for a zoom link.
Class Schedule: Tu/Th 9:30-10:45, 12:30-1:45



Ph.D. Yale University. 2017. 
B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2010.


In his 1668 preface to Paradise Lost, John Milton justifies his rejection of rhyme in the same language he had once used in his political tracts to defend beheading kings and founding republics. He portrays himself as the leader of a poetic revolution restoring “ancient liberty” to English verse by freeing it “from the troublesome and modern bondage of Riming.” Though Milton depicts himself as a pioneer, The Fetters of Rhyme reveals that he was entering into a controversy about rhyme and liberty that had been raging for a century. In the wake of humanistic attacks on rhyme in the sixteenth century, writers of rhyme were forced to formulate defenses of the benefits and beauties of submitting oneself to what critics had charged was a tyrannical, illogical, customary restraint. Rhyme was frequently reformulated over the course of the century, but the idea that rhyme functions as a band or fetter remained at the heart of contentions about its nature and uses. Debates about prosodic binding almost always intersected with questions about freedom and constraint in the political and social world, but theories of rhyme did not merely reflect preexisting political positions. Rhyme had a life of its own, and The Fetters of Rhyme endeavors to trace the dynamic story of its life from Elizabeth’s reign to the Restoration. In considering a feature of verse that stood somewhere between sound and sense, liberty and measure, the book elucidates Renaissance efforts to negotiate these forces in verse making and verse reading.


  • “Like Alcestis: Milton’s Twenty-third Sonnet and Lyric Personhood.” Milton Studies. (Forthcoming).
  • “Love and Dove, Near and Dear, Me and Thee: Rhyme and the Mysteries of Resemblance.” In The Oxford Handbook of Renaissance Poetry. Edited by Jason Scott-Warren and Andrew Zurcher. (Forthcoming).
  • “Licentious Rhymers: John Donne and the Late-Elizabethan Couplet Revival.” English Literary History 84.2 (Fall 2017): 529-558.
    • Awarded the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication
  • “Making Order in John Davies’s Orchestra.” Modern Philology 114.2 (November 2016): 243–63.
  • “‘Alle in generalle and nothing in specialle’: General and Special in Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 115.1 (January 2016): 79–94.
  • “Authority and Attribution in the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter.” Renaissance and Reformation 38.1 (Winter 2015): 57–81.
  • “Satan’s Mural Breaches: Transgression and Self-Violation in Paradise Lost.” Milton Studies 54 (2013): 107–35

Selected Presentations

  • “Between History and Abstraction: Naming and the Art of Particularity in Renaissance Poetics.” Early Modern Workshop. University of Virginia. 2021.
  • “‘Let me but name her whom I do love’: Names, Pronouns, and Universality in Renaissance Lyric.” UNC-Chapel Hill Medieval-Renaissance Colloquium. 2019.
  • “Reading Form Historically: New Formalism and Renaissance Analogy.” Renaissance Society of America. 2017.
  • “Seeds of Ancient Liberty: The Late-Elizabethan Couplet Revival.” Renaissance Society of America. 2016.
  • “Spenser and the Sonnet of Association.” Yale British Studies Colloquium. 2015.
  • “Sweet Be the Bands: Freedom and Wedlock in Spenser’s Amoretti and Epithalamion.” Sixteenth Century Society Conference. 2014.

Awards and Fellowships

  • Student Council Distinguished Teaching Award. University of Virginia. 2022.
  • Faculty Summer Research Stipend. University of Virginia. 2021.
  • Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Research Award for The Fetters of Rhyme. University of Virginia. 2021.
  • Sesquicentennial Associate. University of Virginia. 2021.
  • Faculty Summer Research Stipend. University of Virginia. 2019.
  • Faculty Summer Research Stipend. University of Virginia. 2018.
  • John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication. 2017.
  • Shoichi Noma Scholar. New York Public Library. 2017.
  • Robert M. Leylan Dean’s Scholar Award. Yale University. 2015.
  • H.P. Kraus Fellowship in Early Books and Manuscripts. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. 2014.