School of English

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Peter Kirwan

Assistant Professor in Shakespeare & Early Modern Drama, Faculty of Arts



BA Hons (2005), MA (2007), PhD (2011): University of Warwick

I joined the School of English in 2011 following completion of my PhD, and am School Senior Tutor. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Expertise Summary

My broad expertise is in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, in both the early modern period and in later print and performance history.

Specific areas of expertise include: collaborative and disputed authorship (especially the 'Shakespeare Apocrypha'); book and editing history; contemporary performance and screen adaptations; digital Shakespeare.

I am Book Reviews Editor for the journal Early Theatre, Editions and Textual Studies reviewer for Shakespeare Survey and a peer reviewer for several leading journals and academic presses. I sit on the editorial board of Shakespeare and the editorial advisory boards for Digital Renaissance Editions and Apocrypha Redivivus, and am Membership Officer for the British Shakespeare Association.

I speak regularly at theatres and societies around the region and nationally, and participate in a range of outreach activities including theatre programmes, websites, theatre review archives and events.

Teaching Summary

I teach broadly across the School's drama modules and specialise in the areas of early modern literature and drama. Teaching interests include historical plays in performance, stage and screen… read more

Research Summary

Shakespeare in Performance In 2014/15, my main work is on the contemporary performance of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. I am interested in reviewing practice, as carried out on my review blog… read more

I welcome PhD candidates in any area of Shakespeare and early modern drama, particularly the following:

  • Texts and editorial theory
  • Contemporary stage and screen performance
  • Adaptations and new writing based on Shakespeare
  • Reception studies
  • Early modern plays in their historical context

Current PhD students:

Hannah Manktelow, 'Provincial Shakespeare Performance', 2013- (co-supervision with Dr Jo Robinson, and Tanya Kirk and Tim Pye (British Library))

Sarah O'Malley, 'Gendered Lands: Women, Nature, and the Representation of Seventeenth-century English Landscapes' 2014- (co-supervision with Julie Sanders)

I teach broadly across the School's drama modules and specialise in the areas of early modern literature and drama. Teaching interests include historical plays in performance, stage and screen adaptations, performance theory and the historical contexts of literature.

I am the School Senior Tutor, and my office hours are Monday 12noon-1pm and Thursday 11am-1pm (undergraduates) and Wednesday 1pm-2pm (postgraduates). Please e-mail for appointments, or just drop in.

In 2014 I was delighted to accept the Student Union Staff Oscar for Best All-Round Teacher.

Undergraduate modules

In 2014-15 I am teaching the following undergraduate modules:

I will be supervising six dissertations on topics including witchcraft on the early modern stage, Shakespeare's use of classical models, Shakespeare's influence on Jane Eyre, Bollywood Shakespeare and Shakespeare's heroines, and would be delighted to talk to future dissertation students about prospective topics.

Postgraduate modules

In 2014-15 I will be convening Q34547 Early Performance Cultures. I am pleased to talk to MA students about proposals for dissertations in all areas of early modern literature and drama.

Current Research

Shakespeare in Performance In 2014/15, my main work is on the contemporary performance of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. I am interested in reviewing practice, as carried out on my review blog The Bardathon and in several academic journals. My primary current project is a book-length study of the theatre company Cheek by Jowl, to be published c.2017 as part of the new series 'Shakespeare in the Theatre' from Bloomsbury/The Arden Shakespeare. This book will focus on Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod's important work on early modern drama in English and Russian, interrogating the company's utilisation of stage space and actors' bodies.

I intend to follow this with a book-length performance history of Measure for Measure as part of Manchester University Press's 'Shakespeare in Performance' series.

Other current work on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in performance includes:

  • Coverage of the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival in the edited collections A Year of Shakespeare (Bloomsbury, 2013), Shakespeare Beyond English (Cambridge, 2013) and [with Charlotte Mathieson] Shakespeare on the Global Stage (Bloomsbury, 2015).
  • A chapter for an edited collection on Quoting Shakespeare interrogating practices of quotation in Ben Power's play A Tender Thing and Paul Griffiths's novel Let Me Tell You.
  • A chapter for the Oxford Handbook to Shakespeare and Performance on the influence of Shakespeare on productions of Shakespeare's contemporaries.
  • An article for a special issue of Shakespeare on the RSC's 2014 'Roaring Girls' season.

Since 2013 I have been collaborating with the British Library and Dr Jo Robinson (Nottingham) on a collaborative doctoral partnership entitled 'Provincial Shakespeare Performance', culminating in an exhibition in 2016 at the British Library.

Past publications in this field include performance histories for eleven plays in the RSC Shakespeare series (Coriolanus, the Henry VI plays, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida and The Two Gentlemen of Verona).

Shakespeare on screen

Developed from my work teaching the final year undergraduate module Screen Shakespeares, I am also undertaking work on Shakespearean performance on film.

  • '"You have no voice!": Constructing Reputation Through Contemporaries in the Shakespeare Biopic' Shakespeare Bulletin 32.1: 11-26.
  • An article for The Shakespearean World (Routledge, 2015) on UK Shakespearean film.
  • A review essay on Volpone on television for a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin.

Past Research

The Shakespeare Apocrypha

As part of the AHRC-funded team working on Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others (PIs: Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen), my work seeks to interrogate easy binaries between canonical and disputed plays and situate the plays of the 'Shakespeare Apocrypha' within their historical contexts.

Publications emerging from this research include:

  • Shakespeare and the Idea of Apocrypha (Cambridge, 2015), a monograph interrogating the division between Shakespeare's canonical and disputed plays attributed to Shakespeare across four hundred years of print and stage history.
  • 'The First Collected "Shakespeare Apocrypha"' in Shakespeare Quarterly 62.4 (2011), 594-601.
  • 'Canonising the Shakespeare Apocrypha: Shakespeare, Middleton, and Co-Existent Canons' in Literature Compass 9/8 (2012): 538-48.
  • 'The Shakespeare Apocrypha and Canonical Expansion in the Marketplace'm Philological Quarterly 91.2 (2013): 247-75.
  • 'Mucedorus' in The Elizabethan Top Ten, eds. Andy Kesson and Emma Smith (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 223-34.
  • 'Magic as Embedded Authorship in The Merry Devil of Edmonton' in Magical Transformations on the Early Modern English Stage (Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming).
  • Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others, eds. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen with Jan Sewell and Will Sharpe (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014). As Associate Editor for this edition, I prepared editorial apparatus and interviews with practitioners involved in productions of the plays.

Digital Shakespeare

In 2013 I collaborated with Professor Roberta Pearson (Nottingham) and Dr. Kate Rumbold (Birmingham) on a series of workshops entitled Shakespeare in the New Media Age with a view to larger interdisciplinary collaborations.

  • Shakespeare and the Digital World (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014), an essay collection co-edited with Dr. Christie Carson (Royal Holloway), reflecting on the effects of the digital revolution on Shakespeare Studies.

Future Research

Early Modern Book History

In 2014, in collaboration with Dr Emma Depledge (University of Geneva), I convened a seminar for the Shakespeare Association of America annual conference in St. Louis on 'Shakespeare and the Book Trade, 1640-1735'. We are currently compiling a collection of essays on the subject.

Other planned work includes:

  • '"May I subscribe a name?": Terms of Collaboration in 1616' for an edited collection entitled Brave New Theatres: English and Chinese Theatre in 1616 (Bloomsbury, 2016).
  • A chapter on canon building for The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's First Folio.
  • A chapter on Marlowe's early book history for a proposed edited collection on Marlowe in performance and print.

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