University of Cambridge, MA
University of Oxford, PhD

Mark Vessey studied English at Cambridge (BA 1980) and post-classical Latin literature, Roman history and Latin patristics at the Université de Paris-IV (Sorbonne) and Oxford (DPhil 1988), before joining the Department of English at UBC as an I.W. Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 1989. He was appointed to a tenure-track position in the Department in 1990 and to a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Literature / Christianity and Culture in 2001, which he held until 2011. He was awarded the Killam Research Prize (Senior Arts Category) at UBC in 2005 and served as Associate Head (Graduate) of the Department of English from 2005 until 2008. He has been a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College and Visiting Professor of Augustinian Studies at Villanova University. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Collected Works of Erasmus (University of Toronto Press), the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum (PIMS) and the journal Erasmus Studies (Brill), and of the Council of the International Association of Patristic Studies. He gave the 2013 Bristol-Blackwell Lectures in Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at the University of Bristol (“Writing before Literature: Later Latin Scriptures and the Memory of Rome.”) Since 2008 he has been Principal of Green College at UBC.

On leave in 2015-16. In early 2017 I will offer a graduate seminar entitled “A Pre-History of Literary Hermeneutics: Erasmus, Shakespeare and More Besides.”

Recent and forthcoming publications

  • “A More Radical Renaissance? Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum (1516) in Its Time and Ours.” 29th Annual Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture, Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Boston, 31 March – 2 April 2016. Forthcoming in Erasmus Studies.
  • “Basel 1514: Erasmus’ Critical Turn.” Basel 1516: Erasmus’ Edition of the New Testament. Ed. Kaspar von Greyerz, Silvana Seidel Menchi and Martin Wallraff. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016. 3-26.
  • “Classicism and Christianity.” Vol. 3 (1558–1660) of the Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature. Ed. Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 103-28.
  • “Literature, Histories, Latin Late Antiquity: The State of a Question.” Spätantike Konzeptionen von Literatur – Notions of the Literary in Late Antiquity. Ed. Jan R. Stenger. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2015. 19-31.
  • ‘La patristique, c’est autre chose’: André Mandouze, Peter Brown and the Avocations of Patristics as a Philological Science.’ Patristic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Proceedings of an International Conference to Mark the 50th Anniversary of the International Association of Patristic Studies. Ed. Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Theodor de Bruyn and Carol Harrison. Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 423-52.
  • “Literary History: A Fourth-Century Invention?” Literature and Society in the Fourth Century AD: Performing Paideia, Constructing the Present, Presenting the Self. Ed. Peter Van Nuffelen and Lieve Van Hoof. Mnemosyne Supplements. Leiden: Brill, 2015. 16-30.
  • “‘Nothing if Not Critical’: G.E.B. Sainstbury, Erasmus, and (English) Literary History.” Erasmus and the Renaissance Republic of Letters. Ed. Stephen Ryle. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014. 425-53.
  • (as editor) A Companion to Augustine. Chichester (UK) and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Reissued in paperback with corrections, 2015.
  • (as editor) The Calling of the Nations: Exegesis, Ethnography, and Empire in a Biblical-Historic Present. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.


Current Research:

Besides writing up my 2013 Bristol-Blackwell Lectures on Latin writings of the later Roman Empire, my chief projects at the moment are a student edition of Erasmus’ hermeneutical work De ratione theologiae and the volume of the same author’s Annotations on the Gospel of St. Luke in the series of Collected Works of Erasmus published by University of Toronto Press. Related work on Erasmus’ ‘critical turn’ as an exegete of the New Testament is intended for a future monograph, in the context of the SSHRC-funded Early Modern Conversions project (see below under Research networks).

Research Networks:

Co-applicant and team leader for Early Modern Conversions: Religions, Cultures, Cognitive Ecologies, international collaborative research project (2013-18), funded by a partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada:

Areas of specialization

Literary and intellectual culture of Latin late antiquity (4th to 6th centuries, esp. Jerome and Augustine); classical and Christian literary traditions; literary and intellectual culture of the Northern Renaissance (esp. Erasmus); sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature; histories of literary history, theory and criticism; history of scholarship and academic disciplines; histories of books and libraries.