D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership

Susan Cosby Ronnenberg

Research Fellow 2011-12

Susan Cosby Ronnenberg

Associate Professor, English

Susan Cosby Ronnenberg earned a B.A. in English at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, an M.A. in English Literature from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Before joining the Viterbo faculty, Cosby Ronnenberg served as director of the Women’s Center at the University of Oklahoma for two years.

Honored as Viterbo’s 2008 Teacher of the Year, Cosby Ronnenberg regularly teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature, Women Writers to 1700, History of the English Language, the Honors Writing Seminar, and other beginning composition courses.

From 2008–2011, Cosby Ronnenberg served as co-director of the Viterbo University Honors Program. She has presented at national conferences and published on the value of developing and expanding opportunities for undergraduate research beyond the classroom. Her work advocating for expanding undergraduate research opportunities and visibility in the humanities at Viterbo University was recognized with the 2010 Alec Chui Award for Engaging Students in Scholarship.

Cosby Ronnenberg’s research interests include gender and madness in prose fiction, drama, and spiritual autobiographies in sixteenth and seventeenth century England; grief and masculinity in prose fiction and drama of the early modern period; and the work of women writers before 1700. She is currently revising an article on the influence of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part 1, on HBO’s Western series Deadwood and currently developing a book proposal on melancholy and women in the early modern period in England.

Cosby Ronnenberg’s fellowship research project explores the ars moriendi tradition in early modern English literature by women, specifically Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke’s late sixteenth century English translations of three separate works associated with a consideration of what constitutes “the good death”, and, conversely, of course, the good life, for the virtuous person. Herbert translated from the Italian Petrarch’s Trionfo della morte and from the French Garnier’s Marc Antoine and de Mornay’s Excellent discours de la vie et de la mort. Katherine Philips’ 96 line poem The World, written in 1664, also contributes to the ars moriendi tradition in English literature in some similar ways as that of Herbert. Cosby Ronnenberg’s project will look at possible connections between the two authors’ works in the ars moriendi tradition and how the art of dying as presented in literature pertained to women, whose active roles in the culture of early modern England were severely restricted.

Speaking Topics

Madness in Early Modern English Literature and Culture

Renaissance or early modern understandings of “madness” causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment in relation to gender, dramatic spectacle, grief, and creative genius; the role of “melancholy” in relation to social status, gender, and the imagination.

English Women Writers Before 1700

  • Margaret Cavendish’s prose fiction-philosophy (early science fiction), poetry, and closet drama (1650s–60s)
  • Mary Wroth’s prose fiction roman a clef, sonnet sequence, and closet drama (1620s)
  • Aphra Behn’s anti-slavery fiction, drama, and poetry (1680s–80s)
  • Katherine Philips’ poetry (1660s)
  • Mary Sidney Herbert’s translations from Italian and French, original poetry, and Psalm translations (1590s)