Ben LaBreche, assistant professor of English at the University of Mary Washington, has been awarded a Solmsen Fellowship for 2013-2014. The fellowship will support a year of research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research in the Humanities.
As a fellow, LaBreche will research 17th-century conceptions of natural law and the problems of rationality in modern politics.
The Institute for Research in the Humanities offers four to five external Solmsen Fellowships each year to scholars working on literary and historical studies of the European classical, medieval and Renaissance periods up to about 1700.
“Although still early in his career, Ben LaBreche has already established himself as a meticulous scholar publishing ground-breaking, award-winning analyses of John Milton and other elements of 17th-century British literature and culture,” said Gary Richards, associate professor and chair of the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication. “It’s so gratifying to see that work acknowledged and enabled by fellowships like the Solmsen.”
An expert on 16th- and 17th-century British literature and history, LaBreche received the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford Award for the most distinguished essay on John Milton in 2010. He also has received fellowships from the Folger Institute and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Beinecke Library, and the Mellon Foundation, and he has recently been a seminarian at the National Humanities Center and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
LaBreche has published on authors including John Milton, Edmund Spenser, and Francis Bacon, and topics that include free speech and religious liberty, the politics of gender, and Elizabethan patronage strategies. He is currently working on a book that will examine John Milton’s changing conception of liberty both in its historical contexts and in connection with the debates of 21st-century political theory.
LaBreche received a bachelor’s in comparative literature and a Ph.D. in English and renaissance studies from Yale University.