Photo of Travis DeCook

Travis DeCook

Degrees:B.A. Honours, M.A. (University of Victoria), Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1367
Office:1818 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • Early Modern literature
  • Religion and Theology
  • Intellectual and Cultural History
  • Theories of Secularity and Modernity
  • The Bible

Current Research

My research critically engages concepts of modernity and secularity in light of cultural and religious activity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the period commonly appealed to as secular modernity’s historical source. My book The Origins of the Bible and Early Modern Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2021) challenges prevailing ways of conceiving the Bible’s relationship to modernity’s fundamental religious transformations. It explores how accounts of the Bible’s origins, and not only engagement with the Bible’s contents, served varied and unexpected functions in the early modern period. Writers at the time exploited a newly heightened tension between the Bible’s divine and human dimensions in order to craft innovative narratives of the agencies and processes through which the Bible came into existence and was transmitted. I investigate how these accounts of Scripture’s production and transmission were taken up beyond a narrowly-circumscribed theological discourse, and were deployed as the theological basis for wide-reaching arguments about the proper ordering of human life. This project reflects on the implications of this overlooked dimension of the early modern Bible’s history for theories of secularity in our own time.

Honours and Awards

  • FASS Research Award for Junior Faculty 2010
  • FASS Research Grant 2010
  • SSHRC Institutional Research Grant 2009
  • Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship 2006


The Origins of the Bible and Early Modern Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Books Co-edited

Co-edited, with Donald Beecher, Andrew Wallace and Grant Williams, Taking Exception to the Law: Materializing Injustice in Early Modern English Literature (University of Toronto Press, 2015).

Co-edited, with Alan Galey, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the Form of the Book: Contested Scriptures (Routledge, 2011).

Recent Publications

“D.F. McKenzie’s ‘Providential Version’ and the Biblical Paradigm.” Textual Cultures (forthcoming)

“The Charmed Circle: Identity in Utopia, Unethical Practices, and Augustine’s Two Cities.” Moreana (forthcoming)

“Sovereignty Over Communion: Heterodox Salvation in Hobbes’s Leviathan.” Political Theology (forthcoming)

“Divinity, adieu!” The Modern Subject and the Encounter with Scripture in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.” Literature and Theology 32.3 (2018).

“The Extrinsic Bible: Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Concepts of Scripture, and the Question of Secularity.” Religion and Literature 47.1 (2015)

“Francis Bacon’s ‘Jewish Dreams’: The Specter of the Millennium in New Atlantis.” Studies in Philology 110.1 (2013).

“Northrop Frye and the Book as Metaphor and Material Artifact.” University of Toronto Quarterly 81.1 (2012).

“Scriptural Negotiations and Textual Afterlives,” co-authored with Alan Galey, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the Form of the Book.

“Apocalyptic Archives: The Reformation Bible, Secularity, and the Text of Shakespearean Scripture.” Shakespeare, the Bible, and the Form of the Book.

“Unearthing Radical Reform: Antiquarianism against Discovery.” The Invention of Discovery, 1500-1700. Ed. James Dougal Fleming. Ashgate, 2011.

“The Ark and Immediate Revelation in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.” Studies in Philology 105.1 (2008): 103-122.

“Utopian Communication.” Studies in English Literature 48.1 (Winter 2008): 1-22.

“Temporality and the Text of Scripture in Thomas More’s Religious Polemics.” Moreana 169 (2007): 226-248.

“The History of the Book, Literary History, and Identity Politics in Canada.” Studies in Canadian Literature 27.2 (2002): 71-87.

Recent Presentations

“Eschatological Restoration and Attention to Nature in Henry Vaughan’s ‘The Book.’” Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Minneapolis, October 2022.

“The Materiality of the Bible in the Divine Economy: Henry Vaughan’s ‘The Book.’” Canadian Society of Renaissance Studies, online, May 2022.

“Imagination, Religion, and the Private and Public Spheres in Hobbes and Spinoza.”Renaissance Society of America, Dublin, April 2022.

“The Beatific Vision and the Mortal Person in Hobbes and Traherne.” Renaissance Society of America, Toronto, March 2019.

“The Afterlife and the Human Person in Hobbes’s Leviathan.” Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans, March 2018.

“The Origins of the Bible and Early Modern Political Theology.” Invited talk given to The Bible in the Renaissance Conference, Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem, May 2017.

“William Tyndale’s Polemical Representation of God and Modernity’s Domestication of Transcendence.” Renaissance Society of America, Chicago, March 2017.

“William Tyndale, the Teleology of the Christian Life, and Genealogies of Modernity.” Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, University of Calgary, May 2016.

“’A Removed Space’: Theories of Print in Contemporary Treatments of the Reformation Bible.” Sixteenth Century Conference, New Orleans, October 2014.

De Doctrina Christiana, Miltonic Freedom, and the Providential Immanence of the Bible’s Textual History.”  Canada Milton Seminar, University of Toronto, May 2014.

“The Political Theology of Biblical Production:  Milton, Hobbes, Spinoza.”  Renaissance Society of America Conference, New York, March 2014.

“Tyndale’s Theology of Scripture and the Subject of Secularity.”  Sixteenth Century Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 2013.

“‘Divinity, Adieu!’: Doctor Faustus’s Secular Bible.”  Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, University of Victoria, June 2013.

“The Suspension of Providence: Textual Contingency in Thomas More’s Attack on Sola Scriptura.”  Renaissance Society of America, San Diego, CA, April 2013.

“Early Modern Secularity and Francis Bacon’s Theology of Revelation.”  Renaissance Society of America, Washington, DC, March 2012.

Recent Graduate Courses

ENGL 6000: The Production of Literature

Graduate Supervisions

  •  DRP supervisor for Ali Ahmed. DRP title: “Poetic Truth: Lewis, Barfield, and the Karamazovs”
  • 2012-13. MA Thesis supervisor for Christopher Jenkins. Thesis title: “The Cross Pressure of Flannery O’Connor”