David Lee Miller (born 1951) is a noted scholar of English Renaissance Literature, currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. His works include The Poem's Two Bodies: The Poetics of the 1590 Faerie Queen, (Princeton UP, 1988); Dreams of the Burning Child: Sacrificial Sons and the Father's Witness (Cornell UP, 2003); three edited books; and about two dozen refereed articles that have appeared in scholarly journals such as Modern Language Quarterly, English Literary History, and Publications of the Modern Language Association. He is one of four general editors of The Collected Works of Edmund Spenser, a new scholarly edition under contract to Oxford University Press.
Miller's scholarly work has been especially devoted to the canon of Edmund Spenser, a contemporary of Shakespeare's whose Faerie Queene is considered one of the two or three greatest epic poems in the language. Spenser was the subject of The Poem's Two Bodies in 1988, and Miller is currently helping to prepare a new scholarly edition of the great English poet. But in many of the articles, and most notably in Dreams of the Burning Child, Miller ranges freely through ancient, early modern, and modern literatures and through both popular and high cultures in order to demonstrate a central thesis: that Western culture is fixated on the sacrifice of sons as a means of shoring up patriarchal authority. The work is theoretically sophisticated, but Miller's playful, engaging style has been praised for avoiding the turgidity and pretentious jargon that have characterized much academic literary criticism in recent decades.
Prior to moving to South Carolina, Miller taught at the University of Alabama from 1978 until 1994, and at the University of Kentucky from 1994 until 2004. One of his little known, but important, achievements was his sponsorship of the first Gay Student Union at the University of Alabama in 1983 – a significant act for a junior professor at a university in the Deep South.
After growing up in San Diego, California, he was educated at Yale University and the University of California, Irvine. He has won major fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.