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Heather  Meakin

Heather Meakin

Heather Meakin
Assistant Professor


Office: CPR 386
Phone: 813/974-9536


H. L. Meakin began her college career as a piano performance major but switched to English, earning her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Toronto (studying with Eleanor Cook, Northrop Frye, Hugh MacCallum, Mary Nyquist, and others) and her D.Phil. from Oxford University under the supervision of Julia Briggs and John Carey. She also worked with Katherine Duncan-Jones and Dennis Kay. Her dissertation was examined by Catherine Belsey and David Norbrook.

She was invited by Clarendon Press to publish her dissertation in the Oxford English Monographs series as John Donne’s Articulations of the Feminine. The book is a feminist re-reading of some of Donne’s constructions of gender in poetry other than his Songs and Sonnets and in some of his sermons.

Meakin's second monograph, The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury, was released by Ashgate Press in October 2013. It can be purchased on Amazon or at the publisher's website at a discount. This 150,000-word book examines the prayer closet, or study, of one of John Donne’s patronesses, the wealthy and well-connected Lady Anne Bacon Drury (1572-1624). It was on the occasion of the death of Lady Drury’s only surviving daughter, Elizabeth, that Donne wrote his famous Anniversaries. He accompanied Lady Drury and her husband, Sir Robert, on a tour of France and the Low Countries in 1611/12.

Lady Drury’s closet reveals her to be worthy of John Donne’s intellectual companionship, far more so than her husband. Lady Drury’s closet consists of dozens of painted panels of images accompanied by Latin mottos beneath Latin sentences. Although Lady Drury’s country house was demolished in 1924, the closet panels survive and are installed in Christchurch Mansion Museum in Ipswich, Suffolk. Together they constitute a profound meditation on the disappointments of life and the consolations of philosophy and religion.

For the first time in four hundred years, Meakin’s interdisciplinary book provides the biographical, intellectual and aesthetic contexts for the closet, and a close reading of each of its panels. The research for and publication of the book was assisted by grants from the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, by a New Researcher Grant from the University of South Florida, and by a USF College of Arts and Sciences Research and Scholarship grant.

Meakin has begun the research and writing of a second volume on the closet, the chapters of which consider the closet and its panels in comparative and theoretical contexts.

Work in progress includes an article on the art of diagnosis in Donne’s Devotions and Margaret Edson’s play, W;t, an article on Donne’s use of Mary Magdalene as a liminal figure in his poetry and prose, as well as articles on John Milton’s concept of bliss, his imagining of Edward King’s drowning in Lycidas, Lucy Hutchinson’s reading practices, and Margaret Cavendish’s reworking of the concept of literary immortality.

Meakin has presented her work at national and international conferences such as the Annual Meetings of the Renaissance Society of America, the International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies, the International Margaret Cavendish Society’s conference, the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s conference, the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Annual Conference, and the Annual Meeting for the Society of Literature and Science.

Most recently, she participated as a Summer Scholar in a National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Seminar in Antwerp, London, and Oxford (2012) on “Tudor Books and Readers 1485-1603.”

Her beloved dachshunds are always napping under her desk and occasionally coax her away from it for a game of fetch or a walk.

Undergraduate Courses

Early Modern:

  • Early Modern Women Writers
  • Early Shakespeare
  • Milton
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Seventeenth-Century Literature
  • Shakespeare from An Historical Perspective

Literature Surveys:

  • British Literature to 1616
  • British Literature to 1800
  • Introduction to Literature
  • Major British Writers

Women’s Studies:

  • Feminist Literary Theory
  • Introduction to Gender Studies


  • Life of the Mind
  • The Muse in Literature
  • Re-cognizing Beauty

Graduate Courses

  • Bibliography for English Studies
  • Early Modern Women Writers
  • Introduction to Graduate Studies
  • John Donne’s Poetry and Prose
  • Milton
  • Seventeenth-Century Poetics: Making (Sacred and Profane) Love
  • Rhetoric and Poetics of Immortality
  • Research Methods