Dr. Ed Block, Jr.

Ed Block
Dr. Ed Block, Jr.Marquette University

Off campus

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America

Professor Emeritus


I came to Marquette as a Victorianist and reader-response critic. My early research and publication was on Victorian periodical literature and the intersection of Victorian science, literature and values. My interest in Robert Louis Stevenson and Gothic literature in the late nineteenth century yielded Rituals of Dis-Integration (1993) as well as articles in Victorian Studies and elsewhere.

While in the department I taught all the British survey courses as well as individual author courses on John Henry Newman, Hopkins and Hardy, and Denise Levertov. My work on Newman culminated in a speakers' program and a collection of critical essays (1992) derived from it. From reader-response I moved to Gadamerian hermeneutical criticism and then the theo-dramatic theory of the late Swiss humanist and theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar.

In the department I taught the graduate history of criticism as well as the undergraduate course in literary criticism. While working on Balthasar, my research and teaching interests shifted to drama.  Since 2008 I have returned to a first love; lyric poetry.  I taught the Introduction to Poetry and the Creative Writing (Poetry) courses for two years.  I also co-taught a course on the Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz and Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, whose friendship and correspondence provide a window on mid-twentieth century culture.

In the early 90s I contributed to and guest-edited issues of Renascence: Essays on Values and Literature, the scholarly journal that has been published at Marquette for over sixty years. For Renascence I interviewed novelist Larry Woiwode and contributed essays on Hans-Georg Gadamer and G. K. Chesterton. From 1995-2012 I edited the journal. That made me, perforce, a generalist in my tastes, and increasingly committed to the relation of literature to spirituality, religion, and belief. Under my editorship Renascence did special issues on Denise Levertov (whom I interviewed), Balthasar, Rene Girard, Graham Greene, Gabriel Marcel, and most recently Owen Barfield. As Senior editor, I edited a special issue on the work of novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson.

Courses Taught

  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Critical Theory
  • Victorian Literature

Research Interests

  • Denise Levertov and Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • The fiction of Jon Hassler
  • Hans Urs von Balthasar
  • Drama, Poetry, Victorian literature


  • Shell Dreams, Water's Edge Press, October 2021
  • Jon Hassler - Voice of the Heartland, a Critical Appraisal of his Work, Minneapolis: Nodin Press, 2019.
  • "A Grace-Filled Light: The transformational world of Jon Hassler,” America, 213 No. 6 Whole No. 5099 (September 14, 2015), pp. 30-32.
  • “Denise Levertov: Artists, Pictures, Poems, and the Path to Conversion,” Renascence: Vol. LXVII (Spring, 2015), pp. 81-105.
  • “Poem, Self, Voice and Spirit,” in “And have you changed your life?” The Challenge of Listening to the Spiritual in Contemporary Poetry, ed. Anne M. Pasero and John Pustejovsky, Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2014, pp. 19-32.
  • Review of You’ll Never Be Younger:A Good News Spirituality for those Over Sixty, by William J. O’Malley, S.J. U.S. Catholic Vol. 80 No. 7, July, 2015, p. 43.
  • Published "Something Extraordinary: Denise Levertov's Perennial Appeal," America Vol. 211, no. 2, August 4-11, 2014, pp. 23-26.
  • Edited "Critical Perspectives on Marilynne Robinson," Renascence, Vol. LXVI, no. 2, Spring, 2014.
  • Received honorable mention for a poem, "Prairie Hours," in Poetry of the Sacred Contest, sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Relations, Louisville, KY. The poem will appear in the journal, Parabola, fall, 2014.
  • “Drama and Catholic Themes,” in Teaching the Tradition: Catholic Themes in Academic Disciplines, ed. John J. Piderit, S.J. nd Melanie M. Morey (New York: OUP, 2012), pp. 131-151.
  • “Dementia II” and “A Visit” (poems), Neurology Now online, Summer, 2012.
  • “Temporary Help” (fiction) St. Anthony Messenger Vol. 120 no. 3 (August, 2012), pp. 46-49.
  • “Autumn Mystery” and “Deserted Garden” (poems), World & I online, September, 2012.
  • “'A Ransom of Cholers': Catastrophe, Consolation, and Consolation in Jon Hassler’s Staggerford, North of Hope, and “The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew,” a chapter in Between Human and Divine: The Catholic Vision in Contemporary Literature, ed. Mary Reichardt (Catholic U A P, 2010).

  • “Poetry, Attentiveness, and Prayer”. New Blackfriars, 2008.

  • "Hans Urs von Balthasar and Some Contemporary Catholic Writers." LOGOS (Fall 2007).
  • "G. K. Chesteron's Orthodoxy as Intellectual Autobiography." G.K. Chesterton: Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom, 2006. (Reprint).
  • Glory, Grace, and Culture: The Works of Hans Urs von Balthasar. Paulist Press, 2005.
  • "The Plays of Peter Shaffer and the Mimetic Theory of René Girard." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. (Fall 2004).
  • Rituals of Dis-Integration: Romance and Madness in the Victorian Psychomythic Tale. 1993.
  • Critical Essays on John Henry Newman. University of Victoria, 1992.

Honors and Awards

  • Invited to give the keynote address at the Jon Hassler Festival 2015, at Central Lakes State College, Brainerd, MN, June, 2015.
  • Editor, Renascence 1995-2012; Senior Editor, 2012-present
  • Invited presenter for week-long seminar, “Substantially Catholic,” Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY, June, 2008
  • Mentor, Collegium: Colloquy on Religion and the Intellectual Life, 1995, 2000, 2003
  • Marquette Summer Faculty Fellowships
  • NEH Summer Fellowships
  • Fulbright Fellowship to West Germany, 1972-73



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