- Ph.D. University of Iowa
- M.A. University of North Texas
- B.A. Tarleton State University
My area of expertise is early modern literature, and I regularly teach undergraduate and graduate courses such as Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Film, 17th C. Lyric Poetry, and Milton. My research explores the intersections of Shakespeare, politics, and theatrical entertainment. In my book Shakespeare, Popularity and the Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press, 2017), I argued that thinking through the problems posed in Shakespeare's plays was good practice for learning how to analyze actual political situations. Ordinary people were discouraged from talking politics in Elizabethan England, but at the same time, Queen Elizabeth I firmed up her position by appealing directly to the people. Shakespeare dramatized this contradiction in political theory and practice. His plays showed that power was dependent upon "popularity" and made the ordinary people who attended his plays aware of their participation in the public. Early portions of this book can be found in Shakespeare Quarterly and English Literary Renaissance.
I've continued to work on theater and the public sphere. In a 2018 article "Theater Scene and Theater Public in Early Modern London" in the journal Shakespeare, Musa Gurnis and I show how the theater was bolstered by its "scene"--the alehouses, taverns, and inns that ringed the theaters, in which playgoers traded lines from plays back and forth, gave playwrights advice on how to write their plays, made actors re-perform their favorite parts, and spread the gossip about actors, who were early celebrities. I have also published two essays on Shakespeare and popular politics arguing that Shakespeare, though often considered to be aristocratic in his political sympathies, uses the theater to expose the hypocrisy and injustice of those high up the social ladder. "Shakespeare and Popularity Politics" can be found in Literature Compass 10 (2013), and "Experiences of Authority in The Tempest" in Shakespeare and the Politics of Commoners (Oxford University Press, 2017).
I am currently working on two projects: first, how the genre of romance--in Shakespeare's Cymbeline--in particular, affects the interpretation of social difference. My second percolating area of research is in ethics and tragedy: specifically, how tragedy moved from the representation of an action to the representation of personality. For Aristotle, tragedy was essentially an ethical exploration, since it dealt with virtue as embodied in an action. If Shakespearean tragedy is unified by personality rather than action, what kind of ethical inquiry can it deliver?
I joined the English Department at UNT in 2016; before that, I taught for seven years at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.