Dr. Steve Mentz
B.A., Princeton University
Ph.D., Yale University
Research Focus: Shakespeare, 16th and 17th-Century English Literature, Environmental humanities, ecocriticism, oceanic culture, blue humanities
Steve Mentz teaches Shakespeare, literary theory, ecocriticism, and maritime literature and culture with a focus on the “environmental humanities.” Responding to ecological crisis has brought his writing and teaching beyond Shakespeare to embrace oceanic culture, environmental philosophy, and artistic performances. He believes that all arts are performing arts, and his Shakespeare classes see at least one live performance each semester, at least in non-pandemic times.
Dr. Mentz is author of five single-author books, Ocean (2020), Break Up the Anthropocene (2019), Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization 1550 – 1719 (2015), At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean (2009), Romance for Sale in Early Modern England: The Rise of Prose Fiction (2006), and six edited or co-edited collections, The Cultural History of the Sea in the Early Modern Era (2021), The Routledge Companion to Marine and Maritime Worlds, 1400-1800 (2020), The Sea in Nineteenth-Century Anglophone Literary Culture (2017), Oceanic New York (2015), The Age of Thomas Nashe (2014) and Rogues and Early Modern English Culture (2004). He has published numerous articles on Shakespeare, ecological criticism, maritime culture, the history of the book, and related topics. A sample of his interests, published works, and ongoing projects can be found on his blog, The Bookfish (www.stevementz.com). He is usually credited with coining the phrase “blue humanities,” a term for scholarship and creative work that explores the relationship between human history and our planet’s water.
His web-based open-access “para-academic” articles appear in such venues as Public Books, Hypocrite Reader, Stanford’s Arcade, Rice’s Correspondences, and the Glasgow Review of Books. He has published poems in Blood & Bourbon, Grand Little Things, the Glasgow Review of Books, and in the volume Oceanic New York.
He has presented public lectures and workshops on his research from Switzerland to Australia, and from California to Delaware. He has also received prize fellowships and grants from such bodies as the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the John Carter Brown Library, and the National Maritime Museum in London.
Before arriving at St. John’s in 2003, Dr. Mentz taught for three years in the English Department at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. His undergraduate degree is from Princeton University, where his senior thesis won the Francis LeMoyne Page Prize in Creative Writing. His PhD from Yale University (2000).
Dr. Mentz directed the graduate programs in English from 2011-2017, during which time the doctoral program successfully petitioned the New York State Board of Education to offer the Ph.D. degree.