Peter M. Briggs

Professor Emeritus of English
Peter M. Briggs headshot


Ph.D., Yale University.
M.Phil., Yale University.
B.A., Harvard University.

Areas of Focus

Eighteenth Century British literature, history of English poetry, landscape studies


Peter Briggs received his education at Harvard College (B.A., 1965) and Yale University (M. Phil, 1973; Ph.D., 1974). He taught briefly at Yale and served for four years (1969-1973) as Dean of Berkeley College. Then in 1974 he had the good fortune to come to Bryn Mawr where he has happily been teaching English ever since. 

Originally trained as a specialist in eighteenth-century British literature he regularly teaches courses in that area (see below) and keeps up longterm interests in English satire, popular culture, and early prose fiction. He has published essays on a number of eighteenth-century figures -- John Locke, Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Charles Churchill, Oliver Goldsmith -- along with articles on more general topics such as commercial advertising and celebrity culture in eighteenth-century Britain. He currently serves as contributing editor to The Scriblerian, a journal of eighteenth-century criticism and bibliography. 

Over the years he has developed a broader set of academic interests, mostly American. He wrote about Connecticut Wit and co-edited a book on American Humor. He wrote about American landscapes and eventually offered a course on Nature Writing and Environmental Concern. He developed an interest in travel writing and the ways in which it promotes cross-cultural understanding and initiated a College Seminar on Travel Tales and Understanding. 

He is married to a Bryn Mawr-educated wife who is an attorney. They have two sons; their third "child" is a dog, an English Shepherd. When Peter Briggs is not at school, he keeps himself amused with travel, reading, photography, and gardening; more often than not, he remembers to take time to smell the roses

Courses Taught:
College Seminar 001 - Travel Tales and Understanding
English 213 - Nature Writing and  Environmental Concern
English 233 - Spenser and Milton
English 240 - Readings in English Literature,  1660-1744
English 242 - Historical Introduction to English   Poetry I 
English 243 - Historical Introduction to English Poetry II
English 247 - The Eighteenth-Century English Novel
English 315 - Experimental Fictions, 1675-1800
English 319 - A Sense of Place 
English 380 - Landscape Art in Cultural  Perspective
English 395 - Problems in Satire

Also on BMC Web: A review of Ronald Paulson, Don Quixote in England:The Aesthetics of Laughter, from BRYN MAWR REVIEW OF COMPARATIVE LITERATURE