Kendrick, Christopher 1953-

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Kendrick, Christopher 1953-


Born March 5, 1953. Education: University of Illinois at Urbana, B.A., 1975; Yale University, Ph.D., 1981.


Office—Department of English, Crown Center for the Humanities, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60626. E-mail—[email protected].


Scholar, educator, writer, and editor. Loyola University, Chicago, IL, professor of English.


Milton: A Study in Ideology and Form, Methuen (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor and author of introduction) Critical Essays on John Milton, G.K. Hall (New York, NY), 1995.

Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including The Production of Renaissance Culture, Cornell University Press, 1994; and Writing and the English Renaissance, edited by William Zunder and Suzanne Trill, Longman, 1996. Contributor to periodicals, including English Literary History.


Christopher Kendrick is an English professor whose interests include Milton, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British literature, and Marxism. In his first book, Milton: A Study in Ideology and Form, the author focuses on Milton's Paradise Lost and Areopagitica. Writing in the book's introduction, the author notes: "Both works have been detached from the cultural revolution that that inspired them and read as the work of an isolated Great Man. I hope in the present study to ‘correct’ this traditional interpretation by attempting to see Milton's works both in relation to the collective agency of revolution and as determinate acts within that agency, as symbolic revolutionary acts themselves."

Kendrick is also the editor of Critical Essays on John Milton and the author of its introduction. Among the essays in this collection are "How to Do Things with Milton: A Study in the Politics of Literary Criticism"; "Things and Actions Indifferent: The Temptation of Plot in Paradise Regained"; "Paradise Regained and the Politics of Martyrdom"; "‘Casting Down Imaginations’: Milton as Iconoclast"; "John Milton and the Republican Mode of Literary Production"; and "Milton, Narcissim, Gender: On the Genealogy of Male Self-Esteem."

The author's next book, Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, published in 2004, examines utopian political texts and literature beginning with Sir Thomas More's Utopia, which was published in 1516, and ending with The New Atlantis, written by Sir Francis Bacon and published in 1625. "Scholars and advanced students should welcome Christopher Kendrick's analysis of literary and political writings that helped shape the cultural milieu of Renaissance England," wrote William T. Walker in the Canadian Journal of History.

In his book, the author points out that, with the emergence of utopia as a cultural genre in the sixteenth century, a dual understanding of alternative societies, within either political or literary context, took shape. In his book, the author argues that More's primary concept of Utopia was a negation of the concept of carnival, that is a frenetic and disorganized disturbance that was often comic in nature and suggestive of a circus or carnival. In his examination of utopian writings, the author discusses how the concept of utopia affected public life by disrupting traditional expectations and powers and generating not only debate but also rebellion and even revolution. He goes on to explore the general disappearance of utopian political writings only to have the concept reemerge in drama and fictional literature. In addition to More's Utopia, among the writings discussed are works by François Rabelais, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Francis Bacon, and William Shakespeare. Writing in the Renaissance Quarterly, Anne Lake Prescott commented that many sections of the book were brilliant, noting: "The analysis of the scene at Cardinal Morton's dinner table in Utopia, is among the best I know; the description of Utopia's prefatory maps is subtle; the defense of Utopian freedom is compellingly counterintuitive; and the comments on how little we see of actual science in the House of Solomon should figure in estimates of Bacon's role in intellectual history."

The author begins in the first chapter, "Utopian Differences," by providing an overview of utopian writings. The second chapter, titled "Carnival and Utopia," explores the carnival versus utopia idea primarily by contrasting More's work with Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. In the next chapter, "Utopia and the Commonwealth," Kendrick examines an ideological change that took place due to economic and social disorder that occurred between 1533 with the publication of A Dialogue of Pole and Lupsit by David Starkey and 1549, which saw the publication of Thomas Smith's A Discourse of the Commonweal. In chapter four, "Sprung Desire and Groups in Flux," the author examines utopian aspects of writings by Marlowe and Shakespeare. "Kendrick's principal concern here is to leave room for readings of Marlowe and Shakespeare as at least partial expressions of carnivalesque desire," noted Howard Canaan in Utopian Studies. The final chapter, "Flights from the Tudor Settlement; or, Carnival and Commonwealth Revised," discusses pamphlets by Thomas Nashe along with The New Atlantis by Bacon.

Writing in Utopian Studies, Canaan commented that the author "presents a cogent and imaginative social reading of … [More's] Utopia and the intersection of carnavelesque and utopian ideas and practices with More's and other Renaissance texts." Georgia Brown, commenting on the book in Shakespeare Studies, paid special attention to the author's discussion of Marxism within a utopian concept. Brown wrote that the book "is exciting because of its theoretical and historical ambition, because it is nothing less than an attempt to renovate utopia and renovate Marxism, making both these things available to us in new ways so that analyses of utopia and Marxism need no longer be the battleground on which old cold war battles are played out." Brown went on to write in the same review: "Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking book. It is also a very personal book."



Kendrick, Christopher, Milton: A Study in Ideology and Form, Methuen (New York, NY), 1986.


Canadian Journal of History, autumn, 2006, William T. Walker, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 362.

Choice, November, 1995, J.R. Buchert, review of Critical Essays on John Milton, p. 461.

Clio, January, 1989, Albert J. Geritz, review of Milton, p. 214.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, October, 1988, review of Milton, p. 582.

Modern Language Review, January, 1989, Gordon Campbell, review of Milton, p. 127.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 260.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2006, Anne Lake Prescott, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 291.

Review of English Studies, February, 1988, Douglas Chambers, review of Milton, p. 108.

Shakespeare Studies, annual, 2006, Georgia Brown, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 199.

Sixteenth Century Journal, summer, 2006, Daniel T. Lochman, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 634.

Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, winter, 1988, Donald Cheyney, review of Milton, p. 188.

Utopian Studies, winter, 2005, Howard Canaan, review of Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England, p. 450.


Loyola University English Department Web site, (May 14, 2008), faculty profile of author.