Erickson, Robert A.



Ph.D. Yale University, 1966

"Of primary importance . . . are the fundamental notions of the vital movement – expressed in literal and figurative narratives – of the heart and blood, the ambivalent scriptural heart and its relation to gender and sexuality, and the enduring connection between the trope of the heart and the activity of language, spoken and written."

— from The Language of the Heart, 1600-1750 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997)

Robert Erickson is a Professor in the English Department at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1966, and his central interests include seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English literature; literature and religion; and literature and medicine. He is the author of The Language of the Heart (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997); the author of Mother Midnight: Birth, Sex, and Fate in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (AMS Press, 1986); and co-editor of John Arbuthnot's The History of John Bull (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976). Professor Erickson is currently working on "Sacred Rage," a study of Donne, Milton, Pope, and the poetics of ecstasy.



South Hall 4719


Mailing Address: 

English Department
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3170


Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature

Research Interests: 

  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century British Literature
  • Literature and Religion
  • Literature and medicine


Articles & Chapters: 

  • “Swift, Sterne, and the Anglican Sermon Performed” in Divine Rhetoric: Essays on the Sermons of Lawrence Sterne, ed. W. B. Gerard (Newark: University of Delaware Press, forthcoming, 2009).
  • “On the External Uses of Water in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker” in Tobias Smollett, Scotland’s First Novelist: New Essays in Memory of Paul-Gabriel Boucé, ed. by O M Brack, Jr. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007), pp. 94-114.
  • “Swift’s Dark Materials” in Historical Boundaries, Narrative Forms: Essays on British Literature in the Long Eighteenth Century in Honor of Everett Zimmerman, ed. Lorna Clymer and Robert Mayer (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007), pp. 164-83.
  • “Milton and the Poetics of Ecstasy in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Fiction” in A Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel and Culture, ed. Paula Backscheider and Catherine Ingrassia (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), pp. 117-39.
  • “Fictions of the Heart: Sterne, Law, and the Long Eighteenth Century” in Fiction and Religion, ed. David Blewett; special edition of Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 15, 3-4, April-July 2003, pp. 559-582.
  • “Words of Power: Paradise Lost, Shamanism, and the Kalevala” in Styles and Positions: Ethnographic Perspectives in Comparative Religion, ed. Tuula Sakaranaho (Helsinki: Helsinki University, Comparative Religion 8, 2002, pp. 221-35).
  • “‘Rapt Above the Pole’: Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shamanism” in Shamanhood: Symbolism and Epic, ed. Juha Pentikäinen (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 2001, pp. 221-35).
  • “Ethnography and the Theater of the Body” in Ethnography is a Heavy Rite (Abo Academy Press, 2000).
  • “Lady Fulbank and the ‘Poet’s Dream’ in Aphra Behn's The Lucky Chance,” in Broken Boundaries, ed. Katherine M. Quinsey (University Press of Kentucky, 1996).
  • “Mrs. A. Behn and the Myth of Oroonoko-Imoinda,” in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1993).
  • “William Harvey’s De motu cordis and the ‘Republick of Literature,’” in Literature and Medicine during the Eighteenth Century, ed. Marie M. Roberts and Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1993).

Recent Reviews:

  • Ole M. Hoystad, A History of the Heart, in The Social History of Medicine, forthcoming 2009
  • Eve Keller, Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves: The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England, in Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period, 13, 4, 2008, pp. 405-09
  • Su Fang Ng, Literature and the Politics of Family in Seventeenth-Century England, in Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700, 32, 1, Spring 2008, pp. 63-65
  • Gail Kern Paster, Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage, in Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period, 11, 2, 2006, pp. 237-39
  • James Grantham Turner, Libertines and Radicals in Early Modern London: Sexuality, Politics and Literary Culture; Pamela Cheek, Sexual Antipodes: Enlightenment Globalization and the Placing of Sex, review essay in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 17, 2, January 2005, pp. 269-276

Other Publications: 

  • The Language of the Heart, 1600-1750. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
  • Mother Midnight: Birth, Sex, and Fate in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (Defoe, Richardson, and Sterne) (New York: AMS Press, 1986).
  • The History of John Bull, by John Arbuthnot (editor, with A. W. Bower). (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976)


Forthcoming Projects: 

  • The Poetics of Ecstasy, 1550-1750
  • Pope as Poet of Rapture
  • Cleland's Gospel of "Extasy"

Recent Courses Taught