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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Palfrey, Simon

Position: Professor of English Literature; Tutorial Fellow, Brasenose College
College: Brasenose
Period/Subject: Early Modern & Romantic

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Research Interests:

Shakespeare (language, writing in parts, actors, metaphysics, politics), Spenser, Renaissance drama; dramatic phenomenology; Kierkegaard; literary-critical creativity; Romantic poetry. My recent work explores the unique kinds of life generated by dramatic, poetic, and fictional forms, and the opportunities this opens up for more philosophically adventurous and formally imaginative criticism. Current projects include a critical fiction, Macbeth, Macbeth (Bloomsbury, 2016, written with Ewan Fernie), Demons Land: a poem come true, a collaborative multi-media exhibition and book inspired by Spenser's Faerie Queene, and a semi-autobiographical exploration of romantic poetry, The Mental Travellers. I am also the curator (with Emma Smith) of the major 2016 Bodleian Library exhibition, Shakespeare's Dead

Teaching Areas:

I tutor undergraduates in the period courses from 1550-1830 (plus Shakespeare); teach the MSt course *Life in Shakespeare and Spenser*; and various M.Litt and D.Phil students in areas where I have research expertise.

Recent Publications:


Late Shakespeare: A New World of Words (Oxford University Press, 1997; paperback, 2000)

Doing Shakespeare (Arden, 2004)

Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford University Press, 2007), with Tiffany Stern, winner of the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society's David Bevington Prize for best new book.

Doing Shakespeare, revised 2nd edition (Arden, 2011)

Romeo and Juliet (Connell Guides, 2012)

Shakespeare's Possible Worlds (Cambridge, 2014)

Poor Tom: living King Lear (Chicago, 2014)

Shakespeare's Dead: stages of death in Shakespeare's playworlds (Bodleian/Chicago, 2016), with Emma Smith.

Macbeth, Macbeth (Bloomsbury, 2016), with Ewan Fernie


 ‘Umbilica', The Reader, 2001

‘Macbeth and Kierkegaard', Shakespeare Survey, 2004

‘What does the cued part cue?', in Barbara Hodgdon and W.B. Worthen, eds.,  A Companion to Shakespeare and Performance (Blackwell, 2005), with Tiffany Stern

‘The Rape of Marina ', Shakespeare International Yearbook , 2007

*Middleton's Presence*, in Middleton in Context, ed Suzanne Gossett (Cambridge, 2010)

'Ghostly Selections', in Shakespeare and I, ed. Theodora Papadopolou & William McKenzie (Bloomsbury 2010)

'The Weird Sisters', in Reinventing the Ren​aissance, ed. S. Browne, R. Lublin, L. McCullough (Palgrave, 2013)

'Formaction', in Henry Turner, ed. Early Modern Theatricality (Oxford, 2013)

'Attending to Tom', Shakespeare Quarterly, 2014

Editorial Work

Founding Editor (with Ewan Fernie) of Shakespeare Now! Series (Continuum/Bloomsbury)

Founding Editor (with John Schad, Katharine Craik, Joanna Picciotto, Lili Loofbourow) of Bloomsbury's new creative-critical series, beyond criticism and its linked website *the bee*. 

The aim of the series and its website is to foster new ways of engaging with old literature, making it live in new forms for new audiences. Works so far commissioned embrace literary essay, fiction, poetry, graphic novel, soundscapes, and journalistic memoir. Contributions to the series mix a scrupulous attention to literary and artistic form with alertness to the histories and discourses that are at stake in each intervention, while also risking formal innovation and emotional exposure. We seek to open up new relationships between criticism and imagination, argument and emotion, and interpretive rigour and experimentation.







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