Michael Ferber, born in Buffalo in 1944, attended Swarthmore College, where he concentrated on mathematics and physics until he converted to the humanities, ending with a BA in Greek Literature with highest honors in 1966. While at Swarthmore he joined the civil rights movement and then the opposition to the American invasion of Vietnam. After a year at Harvard Graduate School in English, Ferber helped organize the draft-resistance movement and returned his own draft card to the Justice Department. For this work he was indicted for conspiracy in Federal Court along with Dr. Benjamin Spock, Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Mitchell Goodman, and Marcus Raskin. In 1969, after they were acquitted on appeal, he dropped out of Harvard for two years to write a book about draft resistance (with Staughton Lynd) and to teach English in Japan. He returned to Harvard in 1971 and finished his doctorate in 1975, with a dissertation on William Blake.
Ferber was an Assistant Professor of English at Yale from 1975 to 1982, after which he again took time off from academia to work in Washington at the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy as a writer and lobbyist on nuclear weapon systems. He joined the English Department at UNH in 1987 as an Associate Professor, and was made Professor of English and Humanities in 1993. He assumed the duties of Graduate Director in the summer of 2006. He teaches courses in Romantic poetry and in the epic from Homer to Dante, as well as occasional courses in nonviolence and in the literature of the Vietnam War; he also takes part in the Humanities Program surveys of western culture. He won an Excellence in Teaching Award in 1996.
He has published a monograph, The Social Vision of William Blake (Princeton, 1985), and some fifty articles and reviews. Since coming to UNH, however, his writing has taken a more pedagogical turn: he has written two introductory surveys for Penguin Books, one on Blake (1991), the other on Shelley (1993), and a Dictionary of Literary Symbols (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999, second edition 2007). In the 1990s he turned to European Romantic poetry and began translating from French and German; with the help of many other translators he published European Romantic Poetry (Pearson Longman, 2005) an anthology of some sixty poets in translation. He also edited A Companion to European Romanticism (Blackwell, 2005), a collection of about thirty new essays on many aspects of the Romantic movement. His most recent book is A Very Short Introduction to Romanticism (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010); he is nearly finished with The Cambridge Introduction to British Romantic Poetry.
Ferber is married to Susan Arnold; they have a daughter, Lucy, now in college.
Recent Books on Literature
A Dictionary of Literary Symbols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
* Romanian translation 2001, Lithuanian 2005, Japanese 2005.
* Second Edition, expanded, 2007.
Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010
European Romantic Poetry. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.
A Companion to European Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
Book in Progress (Author)
The Cambridge Introduction to British Romantic Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in press.
Recent Articles on War Resistance
“Why I Joined the Resistance,” in Mary Susannah Robbins, ed., Against the Vietnam War: Writings by Activists (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1999; rev.ed., Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).
“Resisting War Crimes: Vietnam and Iraq,” in Jeremy Brecher, Jill Cutler, and Brendan Smith, ed., In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005).
“Memorial for David Dellinger and William Sloane Coffin,” in Mary Susannah Robbins, ed., Peace Not Terror (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008).
Unpublished Speeches and Other Projects
In teaching Romantic poetry and other courses I have been struck by how little my students know about the sun, moon, stars, and planets, not only as they appear in poetry but as they behave in the real sky. So I have been writing a booklet called Astronomy for English Majors. It is not copyrighted, so feel free to use it, but please attribute it properly, and bear in mind that the illustrations in it may well be copyrighted.
A speech given in 2009.
A sermon given in 2007.