Shannon Miller is the author of two books, Invested with Meaning: The Raleigh Circle in the New World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), and Engendering the Fall: John Milton and Seventeenth Century Women Writers (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). Engendering the Fall explores the intertextual, and productive, connections between Paradise Lost and the writings of pamphleteers in the anti-feminist debate, women prophets during the Civil War, the poetry of Aemilia Lanyer, Lucy Hutchinson, and Mary Chudleigh, and the prose works of Margaret Cavendish and Mary Astell. The book argues that early seventeenth century writers such as Rachel Speght and Aemilia Lanyer produced texts that influenced Milton ‘s representation of gender hierarchy within his epic, while later writers, such as Aphra Behn, Mary Chudleigh, and Mary Astell, returned to Milton ‘s epic within their own poetic and philosophical works. These texts are unified by their emphasis on the narrative of the Fall and the centrality of this motif as the story which must underlie all attempts to re-imagine, and re-organize society following the English Civil War. By differently imagining the organization of both the family and the state within their writings, these writers consequently offer views of governmental organization alternate to those that become codified within John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, published at the end of the century.
Her areas of teaching and research interest span the 16th and 17th century, with essays on Thomas More’s Utopia to Aphra Behn’s Oronooko. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Modern Philology, Milton Quarterly, and Studies in English Literature, as well as numerous articles in edited collections. Essays are forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Seventeenth-Century Literature and the Cambridge Companion to John Milton's Paradise Lost.
Currently, she is researching “On the Margins of History: Case Studies in Tract Collections,” a study of bound collections of political tracts in the seventeenth century. She has fellowship support from the British Bibliographical Society and the Folger Shakespeare Library to conduct research on this project.