Leah Whittington is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English. She joined the faculty at Harvard in fall 2012, following a year as a Research Fellow at the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities. Her research centers on early modern English Literature, the survival and reception of classical antiquity, England's interactions with the continental Renaissance, and the poetry of John Milton. After receiving her B.A. from Harvard in Classics and English (2002), she earned a Ph.D. from Princeton in Comparative Literature (2011), while also studying as a Visiting Postgraduate in English at Merton College, Oxford (2009-2010). Since 2012, she has been Associate Editor of the I Tatti Renaissance Library.
Her first book, Renaissance Suppliants: Poetry, Antiquity, Reconciliation (Oxford University Press, 2016), approaches the interaction of poetry, ethics, and politics in early modernity through the reception of classical scenes of supplication in Renaissance authors from Petrarch to Milton. The book argues that Renaissance authors use the structure of classical supplication scenes to examine the relationship between people and their government, the role of emotion in judgment, the place of mercy in justice, and the dynamic interaction between the reader and the writer of a text.
Her next project, Supplementing the Classics, will explore Renaissance continuations of classical works and the ethics of literary imitation.