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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU professor works on second book

Courtesy of Lara Crowley
NIU English professor Dr. Lara Crowley stands in front of an outdoor background. Dr. Crowley is currently working on her second novel which is inspired by the late writer John Donne. (Courtesy of Lara Crowley)

The study of the written word is a noble and timeless pursuit, especially so for one professor in the NIU English Department, Lara Crowley. 

Currently working on her second novel, with a working title of “Dubiously Donne: Attribution and Literary Reputation in Early Modern England,” Crowley has been part of the NIU family for 12 years with her husband and fellow English professor Tim Crowley. 

Professor Crowley has received funding to complete her book while currently taking a break from teaching.  

“I am very fortunate to be receiving a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to pursue this book project full-time in 2024 to 2025,” Crowley said. 

While known for her work in British literature, Crowley has a particular interest in the work of John Donne, an English writer and poet born at the end of the 16th century. 

Crowley’s passion for Donne has inspired her work. 

“When I was a freshman in college and studying I just love the urgency because he’s always searching. He (Donne) is trying to improve himself. He wants to be better and he’s just trying so hard and I love that,” Crowley said. 

Much of Crowley’s research and study has also been on handwriting and analyzing manuscripts of Donne’s work. 

While doing research, Crowley also found potential mistakes in works credited to Donne. 

“I noticed that these seeming mistakes weren’t limited to handwritten manuscripts but were also made in printed books, so I started to wonder how the concept of an author who created and then owned a text had developed,” Crowley said. 

The mistakes she found piqued her curiosity and made her want to know more. Crowley is attempting to understand the idea of authorship and why so many texts were attributed to Donne compared to other writers.  

Her current research will look heavily at the history of the manuscripts and book publication techniques.  

Crowley will be doing hands-on research at Oxford University in England this summer as well as teaching for NIU’s Study Abroad Oxford program. 

By doing this work Crowley hopes to increase interest in 17th century text. 

“I already have uncovered in British archives hundreds of misattributed texts that deserve renewed, or in many cases initial, attention by 21st century readers,” Crowley said. “I also aim to demonstrate why these largely neglected and frequently engaging texts should be read.”

Besides this current project, Crowley is also working on co-editing “The Oxford Edition of the Letters of John Donne” which will be a scholarly collection of Donne’s prose letters. 

Outside of her academic work, Crowley is very family-oriented and participates in community theater. 

“I love to spend time with my family and friends and to participate in community theater productions. Currently, I’m in the final weeks of rehearsals for the wonderful musical Beauty and the Beast with Stage Coach Players,” Crowley said. 

Crowley will be performing as Madame de la Grande Bouche (The Wardrobe) at the Egyptian Theatre from Feb. 29 to March 3. 

Her first book, “Manuscript Matters: Reading John Donne’s Poetry and Prose in Early Modern England” is available online on Amazon.

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