Literary Criticism and Editorial Work

Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

This study explores the relationship between poetic textuality and the Eucharist, the ritual that mediates Christianity’s incarnational theology. The sixteenth century’s explosive debates over the manner and mode of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist establish that ritual as a nexus for anxieties about how the material may embody the sublime, and its sacramental concern with making present that which is absent bears directly upon poetic language, with its valences of embodiment. This project documents the turn toward interpretively obstructive forms and symbols in the seventeenth-century English lyric as a strategy for transubstantiating absence into perceptual presence by emphasizing the material artifact of the poem. Poems by John Donne, George Herbert and others provide a richly self-aware sample of peculiar poetic strategies designed to disrupt the transparent action of interpretation, and to make of reading a bodily event, one that finally sustains the material as a site of immanent presence.

“With great energy and insight, Kimberly Johnson shows how both seventeenth-century poetry and Eucharistic theology were steeped in performative language. Made Flesh makes a real and lasting contribution to early modern studies, and to the study of poetic language in general.”
—Michael Schoenfeldt

Read a review of Made Flesh in Make Magazine.

Read a review of Made Flesh in Marginalia/The Los Angeles Review of Books.



Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry

Edited by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson
Yale University Press, 2013
Winner of the 2014 USA Book Award in General Religion

Before the Door of God traces the development of devotional English-language poetry from its origins in ancient hymnody to its current twenty-first century incarnations, demonstrating not only that devotional poetry—poems that speak to the divine—remains in vigorous practice in contemporary poetry, but also that the historical tradition reaches back to the very origins of poetry in English, even the origins of poetry generally. This anthology places the devotional lyric in its tradition in religious, historical, and aesthetic contexts, tracing the various influences on the tradition and identifying features that persist across centuries, cultures, and stylistic differences.

Read a review of Before the Door of God in The Revealer.

Read a review of Before the Door of God in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Read a review of Before the Door of God in Marginalia/The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Read coverage of Before the Door of God in The Christian Century.


Divisions on a Ground: Essays on English Renaissance Literaure in Honor of Donald M. Friedman

Edited by Kimberly Johnson, Michael C. Schoenfeldt, and Richard Strier
GHJ Special Studies and Monographs, 2008

This volume honors the achievement and example of Renaissance scholar Donald M. Friedman, whose graceful prose, rigorous scholarship, and nimble arguments continue to persuade his colleagues and students that artful literary criticism can enchant even as it instructs, delight even as it challenges.



John Donne’s Complete Sermons

Edited by Kimberly Johnson
HBLL Online Collections, 2005


This fully-searchable electronic archive provides the complete text of each of John Donne’s extant sermons (around 160 sermons in all).

Upcoming Appearances
February 17, 2017 - John Donne Society Conference, Baton Rouge LA
Recent Books

Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days: A Bilingual Edition

Uncommon Prayer

"With the fine artistry, precision, erudition, wit, and lexical magic we have come to expect from Johnson."

Michael Sowder, 15 Bytes

Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England

"Kimberly Johnson's dual identity as scholar and poet animates this strikingly original book—not only in its limpid, lively prose, but also in its resonant reappraisal of a seemingly familiar subject. Early modern devotional poetry has often been analyzed in terms of its theological and ecclesiological contexts; the real strength and purchase of Johnson's book lies in its integration of this contextual material with a searching investigation of the formal strategies of poetry as such."

Molly Murray, Columbia University

Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry

"The painstaking work of two poet-scholars, Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, the collection promises to be a crucial source text for scholars, a course text for students and a manual for seekers who wish to find prayers that fit their condition and cast of mind."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Virgil's Georgics: A Poem of the Land

"Kimberly Johnson's superbly colourful, rhythmic and readable new translation...finds a way of feeding the Virgilian strain of English verse – from Milton to Wordsworth and beyond – back into her lines."

The Independent (UK)
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