Mary Silcox,PhD


Professor of English
Location: Chester New Hall, Room 330
Phone: 905 525 9140 ext. 27314


  • Research
  • Profile
Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature; emblem studies

Mary Silcox's interests focus on 16th- and 17th-century non-dramatic literature, particularly emblem books and poetry. As one of the leading scholars in English emblem studies she has published several books, such as The English Emblem: Bibliography of Secondary Literature (1990), The Modern Critical Reception of the English Emblem (1991), and three volumes of The English Emblem Tradition (1988, 1993, 1998), a foundational series setting up the parameters of English emblematic studies. Over the past few years she has also published articles on a number of emblematists, such as Whitney, Combe, Wither, and Alciato and is in the process of preparing an edition of Robert Farley's 17th-century emblem books. Her current major project is a book on the intersection of death, the self and symbolic universes in early modern emblems. In terms of both function and form, emblems and symbolic death can be seen as natural partners -- both are open to multiple interpretations because of their involvement in boundary-crossing, but both, as human constructs, insist upon interpretation. In addition to emblem studies, she enjoys working on issues of subjectivity, women writers and the construction of women characters in Renaissance poetry. In these inter-related areas she has written on Aemilia Lanyer and has articles on Samuel Daniel's poetry forthcoming. Both of her graduate courses, Self and Other in Elizabethan Poetry, and Self and Society in Seventeenth-Century Devotional Writings are based on the writing of selves within early modern culture. Another field of interest, in which she has directed several theses, is utopian literature, from More's Utopia to contemporary, feminist, critical utopias.