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Michael Rex

Associate Professor of English

Michael Rex

Associate Professor of English


B.A., Sam Houston State University

M.A., Texas A&M University, College Station

Ph.D., Wayne State University



Michael Rex joined the faculty at Cumberland University in the fall of 2006. Prior to coming to Cumberland, he taught at various universities in the Detroit, MI area including Wayne State University, University of Detroit-Mercy, University of Michigan Dearborn, and Oakland University.

Dr. Rex's areas of interest fall mainly in British and World Literature particularly 16th, 17th, & 18th-century British Literature and Culture. In addition to British Literature courses, he teaches courses in Creative Writing, Women's Literature, Queer Theory, Classical and Early Modern World Literature, Linguistics, Science Fiction and Fantasy as well as The Legends of King Arthur. You have to read a lot, but it is massive amounts of fun. The waistcoats and kilts keep things interesting.

Dr. Rex also serves as the faculty advisor to The Cumberland Chronicle -- the student newspaper and directs CU's chapter of Alpha Chi International Honour Society. With Dr. Catherine Smith, he is co-advisor for CU's Pride Alliance and with Dr. Stuart Harris, is co-advisor of CU's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honour Society. 

In Fall 2011, he started the Creative Writing Program at CU which offers courses in writing poetry, songs, fiction, creative non-fiction, and drama. We host Poetry Slams, local authors, and the CU's 10 Minute Play Festival.  In conjunction with the Creative Writing Program, he and a group of students launched The Phoenix Pages – an imprint of Cumberland University Press – which specializes in publishing fiction by local Middle Tennessee authors,

As a playwright, Michael Rex has had three plays locally produced.  Letters to God was part of Out Front on Main;s Anti-Gay Bullying Campaign Bully This! In March 2012.  In April 2013, Nice Girls Don’t played to sold out houses for three weeks at Lakewood Theatre.  My Mama Says, a play about 11 African American women in the Civil Rights Era was produced at Encore Theatre Company in May 2014 and is under consideration by The Tennessee Women's Theatre Project for production in 2015 or 2016.  As part of several local theatre companies, he has won awards for Best Supporting Actor, Best Ensemble, and Best Costume Design.

Dr. Rex holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, with a Master of Arts in English with concentrations in 17th century British Literature, Rhetoric & Composition, and ESL from Texas A&M University. His PhD, concentrations in 17th & 18th century British and Medieval and Arthurian Literature, comes from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.

In Fall 2009, Dr. Rex served as the host for the 20th Anniversary Aphra Behn Society for Women in the Arts 1660 – 1830 Conference. The Conference included a keynote address by the Abbott Chair in Literature at Texas A&M University, Margaret J.M. Ezell, as well as presentations by over 40 scholars from 30 states and 4 countries. The conference also included a performance of Aphra Behn’s The Lucky Chance in the traditional Country House style, staring Cumberland students Nicholas Williams as Sir Cautious Fulbank, Charity Cruz as Lady Julia Fulbank, Megan Hunt as Letica, and Dr. Rex as Sir Feeble Fainwood.

His scholarly work ranges from studies of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Always Coming Home and Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear, to essays on Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered and Ana Castillo's So Far from God, to book chapters on Eliza’s Babes and Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies.  Dr. Rex has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences such as the Arkansas Philological Association, The American Society for 18th Century Studies, and The International Margaret Cavendish Society Conference. 

Dr. Rex’s scholarly work has appeared in several book collections including Discovering and (Re)Covering the Seventeenth Century Religious Lyric edited by Eugene R. Cunnar & Jeffrey Johnson, Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters edited by Marion Ann Taylor, Literature Criticism From 1400 to 1800, and Genre in the Long Eighteenth-Century edited by Sandro Jung.

For fun, Dr. Rex plays viola, collects antique books and gemstones, and makes quilts and miniature furniture.  He also collects flintlock pistols and antique swards.  Recently, Dr. Rex has taken to planting fruit trees and growing rare plants like Glass Gem Maize and Carolina Gold Rice in his back garden.







Selected Publications:

“The Nature of Epic: Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies and the Construction of a ‘New” English Epic Ideology.” in Experiments in Genre in Eighteenth-Century Literature. Ed. Sandro Jung.  Dartmouth, NH: University Press of New England, 2011.

Letters to God: A Play.  Produced as part of Bully This! At Out Front at Main.  March 2012.  Directed by George W. Manus Jr.

Nice Girls Don’t: A Romance in 5 Acts.  Lakewood Theatre Company April – May 2013.  Directed by Barbara S. Hartman. My Mama Says.  Encore Theatre Company May 2014.  Directed by James Bealor.

“‘I’ve Got your Back, Mate!’ The Art of Writing the Sidekick in Restoration Drama” under consideration at Restoration and Eighteenth Century Theatre Research.

A Merry Little Christmas.  Under consideration for production at Out Front on Main, Murfreesboro TN.

The Heroines’ Revolt: Women Writing Epic Poetry 1650-1800.  Under consideration at Ashgate Press.

Entries on Amey Hayward, and Mary Scott in The Dictionary of Women Interpreters of Scripture.  Ed. Marion Taylor.  Baker Academic Press.  Forthcoming.

"Education for Women? Get Serious: A Look at the Argument for Women's Rational Education in the Works of Anne Killigrew, Mary Astell, Mary Pix, and Mary Lady Chudleigh" in Literature Criticism From 1400 to 1800, Vol. 149.  Cengage.  July 2008.

“Eyes on the Prize: The Search for Personal Space and Stability in Eliza’s Babes.” in Discovering and (Re)Covering the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric, eds. Jeffrey Johnson and Eugene Cunnar. Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2001. pp. 205-230.

Entry on Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear in Novels for Students. Ed. Elizabeth Thompson. 10th edition. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999. 12 pp.

"Tasso's Wild Women: The Female Characters of Jerusalem Delivered." In Epics for Students.

Ed. Elizabeth Bellaluna. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 2000. 12pp.

"The Good Daughter, Wife, and Mother: Breaking the Traditional Feminine Roles in Ana Castillo's So Far from God. In Literature of Developing Nations for Students. Ed. Elizabeth Bellaluna. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 2000. 12 pp.

"When the Words Get in the Way: The Influence of Translation on Interpretation in Aristophanes's Lysistrata." in Drama for Students. Ed. Elizabeth Bellalouna. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 2000. 8 pp.


Selected Presentations:

“The Return to the Seraglio: 18th Century Influences on Modern Depictions of Middle Eastern Women” At Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.  Knoxville, TN 27 Feb – 1 Mar, 2014. “Sister Acts: Teaching 18th Century Drama by Women.” South Eastern American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Conference.  Charleston, SC.  March 2013.

“They’re Eating Me: Tracy Letts’s Bug – Stage to Screen and Back Again.”  Pacific Ancient & Modern Literature Association Conference.  Seattle, WA, October 2012.

“Not Your Father’s Jane Austen: A Social Reading of Pride and Prejudice on Screen.”  At 2012 American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.  San Antonio, March 2012.

“Waiting for Waistcoats: Literary, Political, and Social Interactions in the Lives of Women in Colonial Williamsburg” at 2012 South Eastern ASECS.  Decatur, GA, March 2012.

“Back Off Bitch! Definitions of Motherhood in 1980s Science Fiction Films” at 2011 National Women Studies Conference.  Atlanta, GA, November 2011.

“Life After Print: E-Books, PDFs, and Scholarly Editions in the Classroom” at the 2011 Aphra Behn Society for Women in the Arts 1660-1836.  Toronto, October 2011.

“A Pox on Thee! Teaching the Bad Girls in the Bible Belt” at Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.  Johnson City, TN 17 – 19 February, 2010.

“When is a Slut a Slut?: Female Sexual Excess in Early Drama by Women” at the annual Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies Conference.  Philadelphia, PA 20-23 November 2008.

Panel Presentation: A New Illumination: Film Adaptations of Medieval Texts – with Jeremy Jenkins and Brittany Huffman at the annual Kentucky Philological Association Conference. Louisville, KY 8-9, March, 2008.

“‘I’ve Got your Back, Mate!’ The Art of Writing the Sidekick in Restoration Drama” at the annual South East American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Conference.  Auburn, AL, 14-18 February, 2008.

“Sorry, But Not Really: The Long Eighteenth Century and the Rhetorical Modes of Artistic Expression” at the Aphra Behn & Women in the Arts Society 1660 - 1800 Conference. Albuquerque, NM, October 25 – 27, 2007

“Awash in Bitter Tears: Early Modern Women Dramatists and the Philosophy of Female Political Agency.” Panel: Feminist Philosophers of the Early Modern Period, at the National Women’s Studies Association 28th Annual Conference. Chicago, July 2007.

"The Word Made Flesh: Tone, Technique, and Tension in the Religious Epics of Anna Trapnel, Anne Wharton, and Amey Hayward" at the 13th Annual Aphra Behn and Women in the Arts Conference 1660 -1837, Mills College, November 2002.

"The Nature of Epic: Margaret Cavendish's Poems & Fancies and the Construction of a New English Epic Ideology" at the International Margaret Cavendish Conference, Wharton, MA, June 2001.

"Jesus Christ!! Epic Star!!: Mary Scott's Messiah and the Creation of the Perfect Epic Hero" at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies/ASECS, Milwaukee, WI, March 1999.

"How Lovely to be a Woman: Hannah Cowley's The Maid of Arragon and Definitions of Femininity through Epic" at the Seventh Annual Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers Conference, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March, 1998.

"I'll Make Up My Own Mind: "Changing Attitudes Toward Marriage in Five Comedies by Women" at the 1997 Aphra Behn Society Conference, New Haven, CT, October 1997.

"Tearing Down the Rood: Anna Barbauld's Address to the Opposers and the Teaching of First Year Composition" at the University of Tulsa Eleventh Annual Comparative Literature Symposium C British Women's Writing/Political Discourse, 1640-1867, March, 1997.

"Sailing in Unfamiliar Waters: Aphra Behn's Voyage to the Isle of Love and the Return to a Secular Epic Hero" at the Aphra Behn Society Conference, Athens, GA, October, 1996.


Theatrical Roles:





Lydie Anne

Lilies Matt Smith

The Grinch

Seussical the Musical Jamie London & Ginger Newman

The Genie

Aladdin Misty Embry


Date.Com Kurt Grabenstein

Tito Merelli

Lend Me a Tenor Kurt Grabenstein

Mr. Mayhew

Witness for the Prosecution

Barbara S. Hartman

John/James Jekyll

Love, Valour, Compassion

George W. Manus, Jr

Rev. Tollhouse/Duncan

The Book of Liz

Holly Amber


Peter Pan

April Hardcastle-Miles


Sweet Charity

Jamie London

Judge Hightower

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

George W. Manus, Jr

Marcus Lycus

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Kate Adams

Wilma Chandler

Don’t Mention My Name

Eric Link


A Toby Show

Julia Cawthon

Nathaniel/Taxi Driver

Kiss Me, Kate

Kate Adams

Jerry Goss


George W. Manus, Jr


The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy

John Carpenter

Dewey, Jr

Southern Fried Funeral

Frank Fox


Belles on Their Toes

Wilson Reed

Ghost of Present

A Christmas Carol

David Hutson

Prison Guard


Vickie Bailey


Southern Hospitality

Jeff McCain

Fey Guard/Narrator

Passage to Fey

Asa Ambrister

Charlie Fox

Speed the Plough

Jon Tremer

Sir Feeble

The Lucky Chance

Michael Rex


Spike Heels

Julie Clinton


Plays Directed:

Play title



Father of the Bride

Lakewood Theatre

Dec 2014

Obituary Club

Encore Theatre Company

Sept 2014

Jubilee in the Rearview Mirror

Encore Theatre Company

May 2014

Comfort & Joy

Encore Theatre Company

Dec 2013


Plays Directed:




My Mama Says

May 2014

James Bealor

Letters God

June 2014

Marc Sloan & James Bealor

Nice Girls Don't

April 2013

Barbara S. Harman

A Merry little Christmas

Dec 2012

George Manus Jr.

Letters to God Mar 2012

George Manus Jr.


Theatre Awards:




Best Ensemble Love! Valour! Compassion!

2013 Broadway World TN

Best Ensemble

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

2012 Broadway World TN

Best Costume Design

Signal Season of Dummy Hoy

2011 Lakie Awards

Best Ensemble


2011 Broadway World Tennessee

Best Supporting Actor

Southern Hospitality

2010 Lakie Awards