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James J Lee

Assistant Professor

James Lee’s teaching and research focus on Renaissance drama and poetry. He teaches courses on Shakespeare, Milton, the history of the scientific method, and contemporary critical theory. Based on his research experience in molecular biology, his work attempts to show how literary texts shaped the major scientific debates of the early modern period in ways that the traditional history of science hasn’t acknowledged.

His work also focuses on the digital humanities. He is the principal investigator of a data visualization tool, “Mapping the Global Renaissance”, which uses search algorithms, topic modeling, and mapping to visualize how Renaissance England began to imagine its place in a global frame of trade and diplomacy in up to 127,000 texts of the era. His research in the digital humanities also includes a network analysis of Shakespearean drama. He has supervised MAP projects on all of the aforementioned methods.

He is currently working on a book-length manuscript, Crowded Subjects: The Textuality of the Two Souls in Early Modern England, which studies the problem of the multiple conflicting models of the soul defining the human in Renaissance literature and science. His work on Michel Foucault’s ethics and the aesthetics of the sublime has been published in New Literary History (2013), and his research on a Chosun dynasty archive from the sixteenth century has been published by the Korea Foundation (2012). His work on the molecular mechanism of cleft lip and palate has been published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (2001). His research has been supported by Grinnell College’s Innovation Fund, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Intel Corporation.

He received his B.A. from Cornell University (2004) and his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley (2012).

Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-9742


(641) 269-4733

faculty info column 1

On-Campus Address: 

Mears Cottage 317
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Education / Degrees: 

Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley (2012) B.A. from Cornell University (2004)