- 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 teach undergraduate and graduate courses such as Shakespeare, Milton, and early modern drama. My research explores the intersections of Shakespeare, politics, and theatrical entertainment. My book Shakespeare, Popularity and the Public Sphere (Cambridge UP, 2017) argues 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.
Musa Gurnis and I have co-written two essays on theater and the public sphere. In "Theater Scene and Theater Public in Early Modern London" in the journal Shakespeare (2018), we 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. We followed this up with "Local Celebrities--On and Off Stage," in Publicity and the Early Modern Stage (Palgrave 2021), which tracks how playhouses capitalized on and helped produce the 'local celebrity': ordinary Londoners, famous or notorious, who come to stand in for the myriad city itself.
Another angle of my work on Shakespeare and the early modern sphere has been exploring his investments in popular politics--that is, examining his demystifications of power and his plays' sometime sympathy with the poor and oppressed. This includes an overview in Literature Compass (2013) -- "Shakespeare and Popular Politics" - and "Experiences of Authority in The Tempest" in Shakespeare and the Politics of Commoners (Oxford UP, 2018).
My forthcoming work turns toward ethics with an essay, with Daniel Bloom, on Aristotle's concept of arete and King Lear in Shakespeare and Virtue: A Handbook (Cambridge UP), and "Blood, Virtue, and Romance in Cymbeline" in Shakespeare Quarterly. The latter is the beginning of a book exploring hot spots of ideological contradiction - particularly around ethics and status - within particular plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
I joined the English Department at UNT in 2016. Before that, I taught for seven years at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.