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Shakespeare and Renaissance

Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Photo: Tony Hisgett

Click for Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies research outputs


Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies is a rich and diverse field of research, and the staff who work in it have a wide range of interests. Shakespeare is taught from first year to PhD level, so it is possible for a student to begin to specialise in this period from their first day at Royal Holloway. Single Honours students will also study Renaissance literature more broadly in their second year.  As a result of the dedicated pathway in this field, our MA and PhD students are of a very high standard. In fact, eighteen of them have received AHRC funding.

The distinctive feature of our Shakespeare MA is its close engagement with Shakespeare’s works as documents for publication vs documents for performance, and with the contexts that brought those extraordinary works about. The critical, intellectual and stage/page issues raised by his plays and poetry are at the heart of the Department's research in this area.

Former students have gone on to work as academics, as teachers and in the professional theatre as well as a range of other fields.  Numerous teachers have studied the Shakespeare MA as a means of enhancing their teaching. Members of the Department regularly speak at national and international conferences and are always happy to speak to prospective students.

Staff and Research Interests

  • Professor Tiffany Stern's monographs are Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), Making Shakespeare (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), [with Simon Palfrey] Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford: OUP, 2007; winner of the 2009 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies) and Documents of Early Modern Performance (Cambridge: CUP, 2009; winner of the 2010 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies). She has co-edited a collection of essays with Farah Karim-Cooper, Shakespeare’s Theatres and the Effects of Performance (2013), and edited the anonymous King Leir (2001), Sheridan’s The Rivals (2004), Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer (2010), Wycherley’s Country Wife (intro only, 2014), and Brome’s Jovial Crew (2014). She on the editorial boards of the journals SEDERI, Shakespeare Bulletin, The Hare and is general editor of the classic play series New Mermaids and the world flagship Shakespeare edition Arden Shakespeare (fourth series). Her scholarship is widely used by theatre companies interested in historically inflected performances: a recent collaboration with Texas director Beth Burns resulted in an eighteenth century Hamlet puppetshow that toured the States and UK. Author of over fifty chapters and articles on sixteenth to eighteenth century dramatic literature, her current projects are a book on theatre and fairs, a book on documents beyond performance and an Arden 4 edition of The Tempest.
  • Dr Roy Booth works on Renaissance poetry and drama. He has completed a study of the misogynist figure (the marriage-hater) in English Renaissance comedy, provisionally entitled Married and Marred. This covered plays by Shakespeare, Fletcher, Heywood, Chapman, the Duchess of Newcastle and others.
  • Dr Christie Carson works on Shakespeare in Performance worldwide and across the full four hundred year period that the plays have been staged but specialises in the work of Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has developed the online Database Designing Shakespeare: an audio-visual archive, 1960-2000 and the Cambridge King Lear CD-ROM: Text and Performance Archive and therefore is also very interested in the development of online resources for the study of Shakespeare. Her current project involves creating a volume of essays and an online archive which will respond to the Globe to Globe Festival taking place in London as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
  • Dr Deana Rankin is the author of Between Spenser and Swift: English Writing in Seventeenth-century Ireland (Cambridge, 2005) and a number of articles on drama, history-writing, classical republicanism, drama by women and Irish writing in the early modern period. She is currently writing a book about assassination on the early modern English stage and editing two plays from the 1630s/40s. She has supervised postgraduate work at MA and PhD level on Shakespeare and film, Shakespeare in performance, Shakespeare and the law, Shakespeare and theory, the soliloquy, women's dramatic writing, Renaissance history plays, performance of the English Republic and Civil War period, Irish drama - early modern and contemporary. She is very interested in hearing from students who would like to pursue research in these or related areas.
  • Professor Kiernan Ryan is is the author of Shakespeare (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989; 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995; 3rd ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), Ian McEwan (Writers & Their Work, Northcote House, 1994) and Shakespeare’s Comedies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and he wrote the Introduction to the Penguin Shakespeare edition of King Lear (2005, reissued as a Penguin Classic in 2015). His latest book is the critically acclaimed Shakespeare’s Universality: Here’s Fine Revolution, published in the Arden Shakespeare series by Bloomsbury (2015). Professor Ryan is currently Emeritus Professor of English Literature.
  • Dr Harry Newman's primary research interests are in early modern drama, rhetoric, material culture, book history and medicine. Recent publications include an article on wax seals in literature in the journal Lives and Letters (Autumn 2012), and a chapter on epigram collections in an edited collection on The Book Trade in Early Modern England, ed. John Hinks and Victoria Gardner (British Library, 2014). His book, Impressive Shakespeare: Identity, Authority and the Imprint in Shakespearean Drama, will be published by Routledge in 2017, and he is currently editing a collection on early modern metatheatre, to which he is contributing a piece entitled "Reading Metatheatre". He runs The Paper Stage, a student and public play-reading society with branches in Surrey, Kent and Mantua (Italy).
  • Dr James Smith is interested in the reception of Shakespeare in the eighteenth century.

Current Projects

Designing Shakespeare: an audio-visual database 1960-2000

This AHRB funded research project, which was first launched in 2003, makes freely available audio-visual material which illustrates the performance history of Shakespeare in London and Stratford-upon Avon from 1960-2000; a period of great theatrical and social change. Designing Shakespeare is widely used in lecture halls and classrooms in Britain, North America and Australia. It aims to demonstrate the vast range of interpretations possibilities for Shakespeare’s work on stage and is used extensively in teaching Shakespeare in performance in the Department by the project’s Principal Investigator Dr Christie Carson.

Early Modern London Theatre

Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) is a research database and educational resource that grew out of a collaboration between the Records of Early English Drama (REED) at the University of Toronto, the Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH) at King's College London, and the Department of English at the University of Southampton, and developed from an editorial project at REED. EMLoT and its associated Learning Zone have been funded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy (BA), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Dr Christie Carson of the English Department was involved as the Education Consultant for the Learning Zone of this project.

Filming and Performing Renaissance History 1500-1660

Filming and Performing Renaissance History 1500-1660 is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Research Networks project. It places in juxtaposition individuals and groups already addressing or interested in exploring representations of Renaissance history across and between genres, cultures and disciplines. Concentrating on all types of filmic and performative examples, the network investigates the corpus of representations of the years between 1500 and 1660 (such as the history film, the television period drama, television history, themed museum exhibition, reenactment experience and historically-situated theatre and opera). Dr Christie Carson is a member of the Steering Group and has contributed a chapter to the book that came out of this Network. 

Current Postgraduate Research Students 

Click here to see details of our current postgraduate research students in Shakespeare and Renaissance. 

Links to External Organisations

Shakespeare's Globe
Royal Shakespeare Company

Drawing of the original Globe Theatre

Current Postgraduate Research Students: Shakespeare and RenaissanceShakespeare in partsKing leirShakespeare16Shakespeare12Shakespeare6Shakespeare7Shakespeare8Shakespeare Last PlaysCasebooks King Lear


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