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Summary: Renaissance literature, including the relationship between literature and politics, and the work of such authors as Donne, Jonson, and Shakespeare.
My research interests in seventeenth-century English literature include the relationship between literature and politics, practices of reading and reception, and the cultures of manuscript and print. My work takes an interdisciplinary approach and engages with a range of genres and writers within and beyond the canon.
Authorship and Authority: the Writings of James VI and I (Manchester University Press, 2007), my first book, explores King James's engagement in the literary, political and religious cultures of Scotland and England as an author, whose attempt to realise the etymological link between 'author' and 'authority' in fact exposes the tensions and contradictions between the two. This is the first comprehensive book-length study of the King's writings, and addresses the wide range of genres in which he published, including poetry, poetic translations, scriptural exegeses, political and social treatises, and speeches to parliament.
My latest book, Writing the Monarch in Jacobean England: Jonson, Donne, Shakespeare and the Works of King James (Cambridge University Press, 2015), examines the implications of this reassessment of James's writings for our understanding of the literary culture he inhabited. This study examines the two-way relationship between the King's writings, and that which was written to, for, about, and against him. In this way, it brings James's writings into dialogue with works by writers at the centre of the canon - Ben Jonson, John Donne, and Shakespeare. This book has been selected as one of this year's Choice Outstanding Academic Titles.
I am currently developing a project on Jonson and the construction of the reader. My work towards this project was supported by a research fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California (summer 2016). Some of the archival research that I completed there is discussed in a post on the Huntington's blog: http://huntingtonblogs.org/2016/12/ben-jonsons-readers/
Selected recent research papers
Seventeenth-Century Readers of Jonsons Workes (1616), Ben Jonsons Workes and their Contexts: 400 years On, University of Sheffield (November 2016)
Ben Jonsons Poetaster (1601) and the value of anachronism, Society for Renaissance Studies Conference, University of Glasgow (July 2016)
'Imagining the early modern library: Ben Jonson and his contemporaries', Medieval and Early Modern Seminar, University of Leeds (March 2014)
Writing the Monarch in Jacobean England: Jonson, Donne, Shakespeare and the Works of King James (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
Authorship and Authority: The Writings of James VI and I ( Manchester University Press, 2007; paperback 2012)
Co-editor with Richard Meek and Richard Wilson, Shakespeare's Book: Essays in Reading, Writing and Reception (Manchester University Press, 2008; paperback 2011)
Essays and articles
Mover and Author: King James VI and I and the Political Use of the Bible, in Kevin Killeen et al. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c. 1530-1700 (OUP, 2015), pp. 371-83
The Cultural Politics of Translation: King James VI and I, Du Bartas and Joshua Sylvester, in David Parkinson (ed.), James VI and I, Scotland and Literature: Tides of Change, 1567-1625 (Peeters, 2013), pp. 99-117
'A Divided Jonson?: Art and Truth in The Staple of News', English Literary Renaissance, 42 (2012), 294-316
The Writings of James VI and I and Early Modern Literary Culture, Literature Compass, 9/10 (2012), 654-64
'John Donne, James I and the Dilemmas of Publication', in Pete Langman (ed.), Negotiating the Jacobean Printed Book (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 89-100
Co-authored with Richard Meek, '"This orphan play": Cardenio and the Construction of the Author', Shakespeare (special issue on Shakespeare and Fletcher), 7 (2011), 269-83
'The "First" Folio in Context: the Folio Collections of King James, Ben Jonson, and Shakespeare' in Meek, Rickard, and Wilson (eds), Shakespeare's Book, pp. 207-32
I would be happy to hear from potential students interested in a range of aspects of Renaissance studies, including such authors as Jonson, Donne, Middleton, and Shakespeare; genres including poetry, drama, court masques, sermons, and polemic; notions and constructions of authorship, including female authorship; gender studies; book history and the history of reading; Cervantes and his influence on English literature; literary relations between Scotland and England; the representation of early modern monarchs; the relationship between literature and politics.
- Lost in Fiction: The Metafictional Novel from Don Quixote to House of Leaves
- Writing and Gender in Seventeenth-Century England
- Renaissance Literature
- Shakespeare and Gender