Debapriya Sarkar, "Possible Knowledge: The Literary Forms of Early Modern Science" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023)


Debapriya Sarkar’s new book, titled Possible Knowledge: The Literary Forms of Early Modern Science (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023) is a study of how poets and philosophers took up the “the possible” as an alternative to the actual. By pushing back against the positivism we associate so strongly with the scientific revolution, the literary texts examined in this book—Margaret Cavendish’s poetry and prose, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Milton’s Paradise Lost—invited their readers to inhabit worlds-not-yet-known, to take up uncertainty and contingency as habits of thought.

I am excited to welcome Debapriya Sarkar to the podcast to discuss Possible Knowledge. Debapriya is Professor of English at the University of Connecticut. Debapriya has published articles in English Literary Renaissance, Spenser Studies, and Shakespeare Studies. She has received long-term fellowships from the Huntington Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Boston College. He earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. In 2023, his dissertation won the J. Leeds Barroll Prize, given by the Shakespeare Association of America. His peer-reviewed articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.

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John Yargo

John Yargo is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Boston College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. He has published in Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.

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