Professor Rhodri Lewis

Early modern literary and intellectual history; textual criticism. His new book, Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness, reads Shakespeare's most famous work alongside the cultural and moral orthodoxies of renaissance humanism, and offers a strikingly unfamiliar account of the play's action and significance; it is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2017. At the moment, he is at work on four main projects. First, a short book about Christopher Marlowe. Second, a larger project using the development of parody and satire from about 1500 to 1750 as a lens through which to examine the transformation of "literature" from a cultural field that encompassed the litterae humaniores in the round, to one that would be defined -- and circumscribed -- as the province of belles lettres. Third, editing (with Daniel Andersson and Sophie Weeks) volume 5 of the Oxford University Press edition of Francis Bacon's complete works, which comprises the De sapientia veterum (1609) and Bacon's early philosophical writings to about 1611. Fourth, editing (with William Poole and Kelsey Williams) the correspondence of John Aubrey.

For a full list of publications, see the link on the right-hand side of this page. Some more recent publications include:


Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England from Bacon to Locke (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback reissue, 2012) 

William Petty on the Order of Nature (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2012)


"Romans, Egyptians, and Crocodiles", Shakespeare Quarterly, forthcoming in autumn 2017

"La morte del padre: Translating Machiavelli", Notes and Queries, forthcoming in June 2017

"Young Hamlet"Times Literary Supplement 5917 (2 September 2016), 15-17

"Francis Bacon and Ingenuity", Renaissance Quarterly 67 (2014), 113-63

"Impartiality and Disingenuousness in English Rational Religion", in The Emergence of Impartiality, eds. Anita Traninger and Kathryn Murphy (Leiden, 2013), 224-45

"Thinking with Animals in the Early Royal Society", in Ethical Perspectives on Animals in the Renaissance and Early Modern Period, eds. Burkhard Dohm and Cecilia Muratori (Florence, 2013), 231-56

"On Looking Again into Champagnolla's Homer", Language and History 56 (2013), 56-66

"Hamlet, Metaphor, and Memory", Studies in Philology 109 (2012), 609-41

"Two Meanings in One Word: A Note on Shakespeare's Richard III, III.i.81-83", Notes and Queries 59 (2012), 61-63

"Shakespeare's Clouds and the Image Made by Chance", Essays in Criticism 62 (2012), 1-24

"Francis Bacon, Allegory and the Uses of Myth", Review of English Studies 61 (2010), 360-89

“A Kind of Sagacity: Francis Bacon, the ars memoriae and the Pursuit of Natural Knowledge”, Intellectual History Review 19 (2009), 155-77


1550-1830, Shakespeare.


He supervises graduate students at both MSt and DPhil level, and would be glad to hear from any potential students working in his fields of interest, or in literary and intellectual history from about 1500 to 1750 more broadly. Current and recent topics of DPhil supervision include "The ars critica in Early Modern England", "Sir William Cornwallis and the Early English Essay", "Renaissance Character Fashioning: Shorthand, Writing and Remembering", "John Aubrey's Antiquarian Scholarship: A Study in the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters", "Variorum Vitae: Theseus and the Arts of Mythography", "The Devil in the Detail: The Science of Magic on the Early Modern Stage", "Abraham Cowley and the Poetry of Nature", "The Cosmology of Margaret Cavendish", and "Testimony in English Travel Writing on the Ottoman Empire, 1590-1700".

With Professor Emma Smith, he convenes the Early Modern Graduate Seminar, which usually meets in the English Faculty's History of the Book room at 5.15pm on Tuesdays in weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7 of Full Term. For the duration of Michaelmas Term 2016, it will meet at the same time in Ertegun House.

Elsewhere in Oxford, he is Director of the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities, based at Ertegun House. For more information, see here.

He can be found on Twitter as @profrhodrilewis.


  • Young Hamlet

  • Francis Bacon and ingenuity

  • On looking again into Champagnolla's Homer

  • Impartiality and Disingenuousness in English Rational Religion

  • Thinking with Animals in the Early Royal Society

  • Hamlet, Metaphor, and Memory

  • Two Meanings in One Word: A Note on Shakespeare's Richard III, III.I.81-83

  • More
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