UCL English


Dr Luke Prendergast


Email: luke.prendergast.16@ucl.ac.uk
External phone: 020 7679 3659
Internal phone: 33659
Office no: FC242


Education and Experience 

Luke Prendergast received his BA in 2013 and his MSt in 2015, both from the University of Oxford. He was awarded his PhD in 2020 from UCL, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In 2019, he received a research fellowship from Yale University, and is currently undertaking research as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Society for Renaissance Studies. He joined the Department as an Associate Lecturer in 2021.

Research Interests

Luke’s research focuses predominantly on the literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with particular interests in poetics, allegory, romance, the history of medicine and science, the history of reading, and the relationship between the body and the word.

His PhD thesis, entitled ‘Disciplinde with Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading’, mounted a comparative examination of the possibility of therapeutic reading in The Faerie Queene and The Anatomy of Melancholy, exploring period conceptions of the relationship between the activity of reading and physical, moral, and political health. Luke’s next project, currently supported by an SRS Postdoctoral Fellowship, is a monograph provisionally entitled The Pharmakon: Medical Hermeneutics in Early Modern England, which explores the absorption of the Platonic pharmakon – that which is (both) poison and/or antidote – into early modern poetic theory and practice. These projects are linked by the idea that reading, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was an activity that had serious consequences on physical, spiritual, and mental health.


Disciplinde with Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading (in preparation)

Articles and Chapters in Books

with Eric Langley, ‘Spenser with Derrida’, Spenser Studies (forthcoming 2022)

Per Ambages: Labour, Labyrinths, and the Shifting Forms of Burton’s Anatomy (under review)