School of English

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Peter Kirwan

Lecturer in Shakespeare & Early Modern Drama, Faculty of Arts


Expertise Summary

I specialise in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, both in the early modern period and in later iterations. Particular areas of specialisation include: authorship, collaborative and disputed plays, contemporary performance, book history, screen adaptations and editorial history.

I am Book Reviews Editor for the journal Early Theatre, sit on the advisory boards for Digital Renaissance Editions and Apocrypha Redivivus, and am currently co-leading a project on Shakespeare in the Digital Age. with the University of Birmingham. I have recently also taken on the role of Editions and Textual Studies reviewer for Shakespeare Survey.

Outreach and public engagement

I am Membership and Website Officer and a Trustee of the British Shakespeare Association, and speak regularly at Shakespeare societies and local theatres. I contribute to a range of outreach activities including theatre programmes, websites, theatre review archives and events. As a lecturer in the School of English, I contribute regularly to summer schools, widening participation sessions and community 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

My main research interests are in the history and reception of early modern drama in print and performance, spanning the late sixteenth century to the present day. As part of the AHRC-funded team… 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 Tuesday 11am-1pm and 3pm-4pm (undergraduates) and Wednesday 12noon-1pm (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 2013-14 I am teaching the following undergraduate modules:

I will be supervising two project-based dissertations in conjunction with Nottingham Playhouse's production of Richard III and another on The Duchess of Malfi, and would be delighted to talk to future dissertation students about prospective topics.

Postgraduate modules

In 2013-14 I will be contributing to the taught MA modules Text Editing I and What is Literary Research?, as well as the Distance Learning module Shakespeare, Space and Place. I am pleased to talk to MA students about proposals for dissertations in all areas of early modern literature and drama.

Current Research

My main research interests are in the history and reception of early modern drama in print and performance, spanning the late sixteenth century to the present day. 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 (under review), 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' (in press), forthcoming in 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.

My other current research interests include book history, contemporary performance of early modern plays, Shakespeare on film, and Digital Shakespeare. I am collaborating 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.

Past Research

Past research interests have focused primarily on Shakespearean performance, including the preparation of 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).

I am interested in reviewing practice and my previous publications focus predominantly on contemporary performances, particularly as part of the RSC Complete Works Festival 2006-07. For details, please see my publications, and my ongoing review blog The Bardathon. In 2012 I contributed to several books and websites chronicling the World Shakespeare Festival.

Future Research

Other publications in preparation/forthcoming:

  • 'Situating Ben Jonson' - a major review essay of the Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson, forthcoming in Early Theatre.
  • A chapter in 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.
  • An article for Shakespeare Bulletin on the presentation of Shakespeare's contemporaries in recent biopics of Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Love and Anonymous.
  • [Co-written with Dr Charlotte Mathieson, University of Warwick] A chapter in an edited collection on Shakespeare on the Global Stage discussing the coinciding celebrations of Shakespeare and Dickens in 2012 and their representations of London.
  • A curated entry on the Henry VI plays for the series Shakespearean Criticism.

Further research:

In 2014 I will be beginning work towards a new proposed monograph on the theatre company Cheek by Jowl and preparing articles and book chapters on: Volpone on television; UK Shakespearean film; the influence of Shakespeare on modern productions of plays by Shakespeare's contemporaries; collaborative authorship in 1616; 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 award entitled 'Provincial Shakespeare Performance', culminating in an exhibition in 2016 at the British Library.

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, 1642-1737'. We anticipate this will result in a new edited collection on the subject.

School of English

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