I work on the literature of the early modern period in England and am interested in the complex interrelations of literary form and other forms of cultural practice. I have for some years now focused on the shared ground between poetics and forensic rhetoric -- that is, on the ways in which literary texts invite readers and audiences to supplement the text, or mis-en-scène, with inferences and imaginings that make it seem ‘true to life’. Questions of guilt and innocence stimulate our imaginations and our story-making capacities: legal rhetoric thus plays an unexpectedly important role in the truth-like effects of fiction.
From 2014-2017, I held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled Shakespeare’s Scotland, 1503-1616. In this project, I am trying to bring together the distinct fields of early modern Scottish literature and early modern English literature, asking how poets in both polities responded to their distinctive and conflicting national histories in forging a poetry of contemporary nationhood. Legal fictions, chorographies and economic projects play their part in these national imaginings and the whole is not without its relevance in the present historical moment.
I am a Fellow of the British Academy, a corresponding editor of the journal, Representations, and the director of CEMS, or the Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford. I have taught courses at the Folger Institute, Washington DC.
I edit a monograph series for Edinburgh University Press, called Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture.
I teach all genres of literature 1500-1700.
In 2017-18, I am lecturing on English literature, 1550-1700; convening the MSt 1550-1700 with Dr Kathryn Murphy, and teaching an Option 6 course on 'Poetics of Evidence' with Professor Kate McLoughlin.
Previous Positions Held
2004-2016 Berry Chair of English Literature, University of St Andrews
2000-2004 Professor of English Literature, University of California at Berkeley
1998-2000 Professor of English Literature, University of Hull
1994-1998 Reader in Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary University of London
1986-1994 Lecturer in English Literature, Queen Mary University of London
Fellowships, Learned Societies, Prizes, Service
2016 Elected Fellow of the British Academy
2013-17 Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, ‘Shakespeare’s Scotland, 1503-1616’
2008-2011 Head of School of English, University of St Andrews
2008 Roland Bainton Prize for Literature for The Invention of Suspicion
2004-5 Guggenheim Fellowship
2002 Humanities Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley
1995 Research Fellow, Folger Institute, Washington DC
1995 Research Fellow, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
Advisory Boards, Editorships, Directorships
Director of CEMS, the Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford
Co-founder and director of CMEMLL, the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature, University of St Andrews
Corresponding editor of the journal, Representations
Advisory board of the Thomas Nashe Project
Editor of monograph series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture