My work has focussed on Renaissance and early modern literature
with particular reference to the drama. Publications span a period
from c.1550-1685 and range from women's writing in the Renaissance
to the censorship of drama during the Exclusion crisis of the late
My first book ‘Art made tongue-tied by authority':
Elizabethan and Jacobean Dramatic Censorship (1990; second
edition 1999) explored the impact of literary and dramatic
censorship on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The
debate about early modern censorship is ongoing and I have
continued to contribute articles and lectures on the subject.
My next book, Drama of the English Republic, 1649-1660
(2002; reprinted in paperback 2005) is an edition of, and
comprehensive introduction to, the plays and entertainments
performed during a period when theatre was in retreat and/or
opposition. Three of the five texts (William Davenant's The
Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru and The History of Sir Francis
Drake, together with the anonymous Tragedy of that Famous
Roman Orator Marcus Tullius Cicero) were edited for the first
time. The study breaks away from the familiar binary of Puritanism
and theatre to reveal complex and shifting allegiances and the
adaptation of the theatrical medium to contain folk celebration,
current affairs and pamphlets. I argue that, far from being a
dramatic backwater, drama of the Commonwealth provided the impetus
for much that was to follow in the drama of the Restoration. I also
focus on the complex reception of classical republicanism, the
appropriation of the ‘black legend' and of Elizabethan materials
(the Drake legend, for example) during the period of the
Revenge Tragedies of the Renaissance (2006) is
published in the series 'Writers and their Work', and includes the
drama of Kyd, Shakespeare, Chettle, Marston, Middleton, Webster and
Ford, amongst others. The book considers the classical legacy of
revenge plays, and asserts their historical position while
addressing them from contemporary critical perspectives, including
gender, national identity and aesthetics of performance. My
argument is that, rather than conforming to a genre that rehearses
convention, revenge plays show themselves to be unpredictable in
their ways of projecting ethical dilemmas and unstable in their
recourse to farce, satire, parody and melodrama.
My most recent publication is Shakespeare’s Stage Traffic:
Imitation, Borrowing and Competition in Renaissance Theatre
(Cambridge University Press, 2014).
I ran a specialist session at a Richard
II Study Day at Shakespeare’s Globe on Saturday 25 July 2015,
and am convening with Dominique Goy-Blanquet and Mami Adachi
the Trans-Cultural Shakespeare seminar at the World Shakespeare
Congress, Stratford-upon-Avon and London, August 2016.
In December 2016, I will give the plenary
lecture, ‘“I like not this”: Censorship and Censure in Early Modern
Drama’, at the ‘New Perspectives on Censorship in Early
Modern England: Literature, Religion and Politics’, conference at
L’Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand.
AHRC Research Fellowship, February to November 2012 for the
project 'Shakespeare's Stage Traffic: Imitation, Borrowing and
Competition in Renaissance Theatre'. Shakespeare’s Stage
Traffic: Imitation, Borrowing and Competition in Renaissance
Theatre (CUP, 2014) re-situates Shakespeare’s dramaturgy
within the flourishing and competitive theatrical trade of the late
sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The book demonstrates
how Shakespeare worked with material that had already entered the
dramatic tradition and, how in the spirit of Renaissance theory, he
moulded and converted them to his own use. Overall, I argue for a
more conjoined study of Shakespeare, beyond generic study, which
takes into account dramaturgical as much as literary influences and
the evolution of play texts as they enter into dialogue with
I contributed a paper on early modern revels
and court performance for a symposium Brave New Theatres:
1616 in China and England organized jointly by SOAS, the
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and National Chung Cheng University.
In May 2014 I delivered a plenary lecture, ‘Cosmography: mapping
lands and mapping texts’ at the conference of the Italian
Association of Shakespearean and Early Modern Studies in Lecce,
Apulia. Cosmography also fed into my paper, ‘”Art to enchant”:
The Tempest, sources and sorcery’ delivered at the
International Shakespeare Conference, Stratford-upon Avon, 2014 and
is evolving into a major new research project.
I am editing and contributing to a collection
of interdisciplinary essays, From Republic to Restoration:
Legacies and Departures, contracted with MUP. This volume
will examine the literary, political, cultural, religious and
scientific continuities as well as ruptures across the ideological
divide of the English Republic and the Restoration.
2015-2020: edition of John
Marston’s What You Will for the AHRC funded Complete
Works of John Marston, Oxford University Press; general
editors: Martin Butler and Matthew Steggle.
I have taught on the following undergraduate modules:
- Introduction to Renaissance Literature
- Jacobean Drama
- Writing the Revolution: Sex, Religion, and Politics in the
Literature of Seventeenth-Century England (course convenor)
- Shakespearean Transformations
MA convener for the module, 'Medieval to Early Modern:
Continuity and Change'.
I am supervising a PhD 'Tragedy, Republicanism and the Birth of
the Early Modern Self'.
I welcome PhD applications in any fields of Shakespeare studies,
Renaissance and early modern literature and drama, censorship and
anti-theatricalism, and early modern women's writing.