School of English

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Peter Kirwan

Associate Professor in Early Modern Drama, Faculty of Arts



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

I joined the University of Nottingham in 2011 following completion of my PhD. I am currently section head for Drama and Creative Writing, and teach on a range of modules (mostly focused on early modern drama) in the School at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 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.

I have a particular interest in the dividing line between 'Shakespeare' and 'not-Shakespeare' and the ways in which 'Shakespeare' is constructed and defined to meet particular needs. 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, Performance Reviews Editor for Shakespeare Bulletin, Editions and Textual Studies reviewer for Shakespeare Survey and a peer reviewer for the AHRC and 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.

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

Before beginning my PhD I worked at the CAPITAL (Creativity and Performance in Teaching and Learning) Centre at the University of Warwick, which instilled in me a lifelong passion for teaching. At… read more

Research Summary

My current research is split between projects on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in modern performance, and editing projects that build on my earlier work in Shakespearean book history and… read more

Selected Publications

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, including live-streaming
  • Adaptations and new writing based on Shakespeare
  • Early modern drama in its historical context

Current PhD students

Beth Sharrock, 'Paratexts for Live Theatre Broadcasts of Shakespeare', 2017- (co-supervision with Erin Sullivan, Shakespeare Institute)

Ben Haworth, 'Liminality in Early Modern Literature and Drama', 2017- (co-supervision with Pete Smith, Nottingham Trent University)

Josh Caldicott, 'The Development of Epilogues in English Commercial Theatre, 1566-1642', 2018- (co-supervision with Simon Smith, Shakespeare Institute)

Completed PhD students

Hannah Manktelow, 'Provincial Shakespeare Performance', awarded 2019 (co-supervision with Jo Robinson, and Tanya Kirk, British Library)

Sarah O'Malley, 'Gendered Lands: Women, Nature, and the Representation of Seventeenth-century English Landscapes', awarded 2019 (co-supervision with Julie Sanders, University of Newcastle)

Before beginning my PhD I worked at the CAPITAL (Creativity and Performance in Teaching and Learning) Centre at the University of Warwick, which instilled in me a lifelong passion for teaching. At Nottingham I am lucky enough to be able to teach at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study, and my teaching interests both reflect and inform my research. I teach broadly across the School's drama modules, specialising in early modern drama.

In 2014 and 2018 I was delighted to accept the Student Union Staff Oscar for Best All-Round Teacher.

I am a full fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and completed a full PGCHE in 2018.

Undergraduate modules

In 2018-19 I am convening the following modules:

ENG1001: Drama, Theatre, Performance. This core first-year module surveys more than 2000 years of theatrical history to explore the theoretical and practical conventions of performance. Taught in our drama studios, the module has students performing their own creative responses to tasks that explore the workings of drama.

ENGL2018: Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage. This second-year module investigates how early modern drama works in performance, 'then and now'. We train students in how to read clues for performance into the earliest printed texts, and analyse contemporary responses through theatre trips.

ENGL3045: Project-Based Dissertation. This final-year module allows students to develop an independent research project based on a work placement with one of our partners (which this year include Nottingham Playhouse, Lakeside Arts Centre and Nottingham's Manuscripts and Special Collections). The placements train students in a work environment and lead to unique dissertation topics.

I am also offering lectures on ENGL1012: Shakespeare's Histories: Critical Approaches, ENGL3072: Reformation and Revolution, and ENGL3100: Changing Stages: Theatre Industry and Theatre Art, and seminars on ENGL1008: Academic Community.

I am supervising six undergraduate dissertations on topics including: early modern overhearing scenes, representations of same-sex desire in early modern drama, consent in modern productions of Shakespeare, violence by and against women in contemporary performance, films of Macbeth, and the soliloquies of Hamlet. I am always pleased to talk to students about potential dissertation topics, especially in the area of early modern drama and contemporary performance.

Postgraduate modules

In 2018-19 I am convening a brand-new module:

ENGL4219: Shakespeare: Text, Stage, Screen. This module focuses on three plays each year, exploring them in turn through examination of their earliest printed form, a live stage production, and a film, introducing students to theoretical approaches to adaptation and interpretation. This year's plays are Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew and Marlowe's Edward II.

I am also giving sessions on ENGL4151: Textualities on digital editing, and ENGL4153: Early Performance Cultures on manuscript drama.

This summer I supervised two MA dissertations on Shakespeare on screen, and I am always pleased to talk to MA students about dissertation topics.

Current Research

My current research is split between projects on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in modern performance, and editing projects that build on my earlier work in Shakespearean book history and editorial theory. Specific projects include:

Shakespeare in the Theatre: Cheek by Jowl (Bloomsbury, 2019), a monograph on one of the world's leading Shakespeare companies.

Pericles (Cambridge, 2019), a revised edition of the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition by Doreen Delvecchio and Anthony Hammond.

Doctor Faustus for The Routledge Anthology of Early Modern Drama, ed. Jeremy Lopez (Routledge, 2020), a new student-facing edition of Marlowe's play.

The Arden Research Companion to Shakespeare and Contemporary Performance, ed. with Kathryn Prince (Bloomsbury, 2020), a major state-of-the-field collection of new research, practitioner interventions and research resources.

Past Research

Please see my Publications page for a list of my already-published work.

The Shakespeare Apocrypha

Much of my research from 2011-2016 focused on the plays of the Shakespeare Apocrypha, culminating in a major monograph, Shakespeare and the Idea of Apocrypha (Cambridge, 2015), a new edition of disputed plays general edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays (Palgrave, 2013), a curated section of the Folger's Shakespeare Documented exhibition, and several book chapters and articles.

Shakespeare in the Book Trade

Following a successful seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference in St. Louis, 2014, Emma Depledge and I curated a volume building on our shared interest in the role of the book trade in consolidating Shakespeare's canonicity, Canonising Shakespeare: Stationers and the Book Trade, 1640-1740 (Cambridge, 2017). My work on Shakespearean book history has featured in Shakespeare Quarterly, Philological Quarterly and several book collections.

Shakespeare on Stage and Screen

For an audience beyond academia, my theatre review blog, The Bardathon, is one of the longest-running single-authored theatre review blogs still in operation, and I also wrote nine performance histories for single volumes in the RSC Shakespeare series. My scholarly articles on Shakespeare in performance have featured in Shakespeare, Shakespeare Bulletin, and several book collections. I have a particular interest in Shakespeare on screen, both film and in live relays of theatre productions, an interest explored in my first co-edited collection, Shakespeare and the Digital World (Cambridge, 2014).

Future Research

I am currently developing a large-scale project around The Winter's Tale, and will be spending much of the next few years working in detail on this extraordinary play. I am always keen to hear new hot takes!

Other upcoming projects include:

  • An essay on Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear on film for the new Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Screen (ed. Russell Jackson).
  • An essay on the development of the Shakespeare canon for the Arden Research Companion to Shakespeare and Textual Studies (ed. Lukas Erne)
  • An essay on Tamburlaine in performance for Tamburlaine: A Critical Reader (ed. David McInnis)

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