Dr John N Wall

Picture of Dr John N Wall



A native of North Carolina, Dr. Wall has been a member of the NC State faculty since 1973.

Dr. Wall is a professor of sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature, with special interests in Spenser, Donne, and Herbert. He is particularly interested in the literature of the English Reformation. He is engaged in a long-term digital humanities project to recrate the experience of worship and preaching at St Paul's Cathedral in London in the early seventeenth century. 

In addition to his scholarly research and teaching responsibiliteis in the field of early modern English literature, Dr. Wall has served the university by chairing its Reaccreditation Self-Study in the 1990s and by co-chairing the faculty committee that successfuly petitioned the national Phi Beta Kappa organization to grant NC State the right to host a Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Wall also served as Founding Director of the University Honors Program in the early 2000's.

Dr. Wall has twice been a Fellow of the National Humanities Center and on numerous occasions served as Visiting Scholar of the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. In the early 2000's he was a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College of Cambridge University in the UK. He has has also received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. Wall was awarded the Holladay Medal for Excellence in 2003.

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Wall's fields of inquiry in his research and scholarship include early modern English literature, religion and literature, and the digital humanities.


Dr. Wall is currently engaged in the writing of a book-length manuscript John Donne in 1623: The Maturing of a Vocation which will trace the development of Donne's career as a priest of the Church of England and examine his writings as a priest in the context of the practice of worship and spirituality in the Chruch of England.

Funded Research

 The Virtual Paul's Cross Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, uses architectural modeling software and acoustic simulation software to recreate the acoustic properties of Paul’s Churchyard.  This recreation enables us to explore the experience of listening to John Donne's sermon for November 5th, 1622, in the open air at a spot where large crowds gathered on Sundays to hear Royal policy in religious matters defended and post-Reformation changes in English religious life promoted.

Learn more by visiting the Project's Website and the Project's Blog.


• "Virtual Paul’s Cross: The Experience of Public Preaching after the Reformation,” in Paul’s Cross and the Culture of Persuasion in England, 1520–1640, ed. Torrance Kirby and P.G. Stanwood (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2014), pp. 61 – 92.

•  “Recovering Lost Acoustic Spaces: St. Paul's Cathedral and Paul's Churchyard in 1622.” In Digital Studies/Le Champ Numérique. (http://www.digitalstudies.org/ojs/index.php/digital_studies/article/view/251/310)

•  "Transforming the Object of our Study: The Early Modern Sermon and the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project," in the Spring 2014 issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities (http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-1/transforming-the-object-of-our-study-by-john-n-wall/).

•  "Worship at Trinity Chapel, Lincoln's Inn, London, 22 May 1623." Anglican and Episcopal History (2012) 81: 113 - 212.

•   “The Irregular Ordination of John Donne.” John Donne Journal 27 (2008), 81-102.

•    “John Donne and the Practice of Priesthood.” Renaissance Papers 2007 (2008), 1-16.

•     “Situating Donne’s Dedication Sermon at Lincoln’s Inn, 22 May 1623.” JDJ 26 (2007), 159-239.

•     “That Holy Roome”: John Donne and the Conduct of Worship at St. Paul’s.” RP (2006), 61-84.

•     “Crashaw, Catholicism, and Englishness: Defining Religious Identity.” RP (2005), 107-126.

•      “John Donne Practices Law: The Case of the Brentwood School.”  JDJ 23 (2005),



"Donne Preaching in Place: The Paul's Cross Sermon and the Acoustics of Paul's Churchyard," as part of the conference Place and Preaching, St Paul's Cathedral, London, September 6-7, 2013

"Virtual Medieval St Paul's Cathedral" at a session of the Digital Humanities Seminar of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, February 18, 2014

"Reconstructing Pre-Modern Spaces," at the symposium Reconceiving Pre-Modern Spaces, sponsored by the MARCO Institute at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, March 8, 2014

“John Donne as Absentee Rector: New Light from the Archives" at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in New York City, March 29th, 2014.


  • PhD in English Literature from Harvard Universisty, 1973