Dustin D. Stewart is a native of Killeen, Texas, and a PhD student in the Department of English. He conducts much of his archival research at the world-renowned Harry Ransom Center. His work considers how literary artists use poetry to think through religious and philosophical conflict. Dustin is especially interested in the 17th-century English poet John Milton and the tradition that grew up around Milton’s work in the 18th century. Literary historians are still making sense of Milton’s religious views, and some of Dustin’s research contributes to that effort. But he’s also interested in showing how later writers reinvented Milton for their own political and theological purposes. In some ways, Dustin says, these later authors detached Milton’s body from his soul. Dustin’s dissertation project asks how and why. In some cases, he argues, reimagining Milton could give a voice to female poets. In other cases, it could contribute to theological or literary innovation. In still other cases, it could help encourage religious tolerance or political change.
Dustin’s project involves looking through lots of dusty old books and manuscripts. But it also involves asking still-pressing questions about the role of imaginative literature in a divided society. His questions can make other scholars revise their understandings of the eighteenth century, specifically the role of religion in that era’s culture and in today’s scholarship.
Dustin’s research has taken him to libraries across England, and he has published articles in several academic journals. After completing his PhD, he hopes to continue researching and teaching as a college professor.