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James Siemon

Professor

AB, Washington University
MA, PhD, SUNY Buffalo
Editor, Shakespeare Studies


Room 532
617-358-2560
For CV click here

James Siemon has concentrated his research, teaching and publication on the literature of early modern England, with particular focus on drama, especially by Shakespeare. He has written two books on Shakespeare and has edited plays by Shakespeare (Richard III) and Christopher Marlowe (The Jew of Malta). He has articles and essays on various aspects of Renaissance literature and culture, and is currently editing Julius Caesar for the Norton Complete Works. He is interested in social history and theory, and especially in the socio-linguistic interaction between early modern literature and practical, everyday discourse. He is working on two book-length projects that bring together close examinations of ordinary utterances (as found in letters, depositions, libels, reports of civic meetings, etc.) with explorations in the language of the early modern stage. One project re-visits Raymond Williams’ history of cultural “key words” to analyze social tensions that would have accompanied terms that might seem familiar today, such as “gentle” or “credit,” for example, but that were quite differently used by earlier speakers. The other considers the complex representations of hierarchy and social distinction in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, inspired by some simple questions: how did English audiences and readers recognize and express rank and standing onstage and off? How did they know when one should put on or take off a hat, whether to walk to the right or left, when to speak first or only answer when addressed, when to look others in the eye or lower their gaze, where to take a seat at table or when to use formal or informal pronouns? Students in his classes should expect to consider similar questions of early modern micropolitics in their literary, theatrical and practical embodiments.

Selected Books
  • Editor, Shakespeare Studies, 2013-present
  • Editor, William Shakespeare, Richard III. (The Arden Shakespeare), 2009
  • Editor, Christopher Marlowe, Jew of Malta. Third edition (New Mermaid), 2009
  • Word Against Word: Shakespearean Utterance, 2002
  • Editor, Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta. Second edition (New Mermaid) 1994/rev. 1997
  • Shakespearean Iconoclasm, 1985
Selected Articles and Chapters
  • “Historicisms, Histories, Now,” A Companion to the English Renaissance, ed. Michael Hattaway (2010)
  • “Halting Modernity: Richard III’s Preposterous Body and History,” Shakespeare in Europe: History and Memory, ed. Marta Gibinska (2008)
  • “The power of hope? An Early Modern Reader of Richard III,” A Companion to Shakespeare’s History Plays, ed. Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (2003)
  • “Between the Lines: Bodies/Languages/Times,” Shakespeare Studies 28 (2000)
  • “History, Histories, Historicism: Constructing the Past,” A Companion to the Renaissance, ed. Michael Hattaway (2000)
  • “Dream of Fields: Early Modern (Dis)Positions,” Historicism, Psychoanalysis and Early Modern Culture, ed. Carla Mazzio and Doug Trevor (1999)
  • “‘Perplexed Beyond Self-explication’: Cymbeline in Early Modern/Post-modern Europe,” Shakespeare in the New Europe, ed. Derek Roper and Michael Hattaway (1994)
  • “Sign, Cause or General Habit,” The European Legacy 2 (1997);
  • “Sporting Kyd,” ELR 24 (1994)
  • “‘The Word Itself Against the Word’: Close Reading After Voloshinov,” Shakespeare Reread, ed. Russ McDonald (1994)
  • “‘Landlord not King’: Agrarian Change and Interarticulation,” Enclosure Acts, ed. Richard Burt and John Michael Archer (1993)
  • “Dialogical Formalism: Word, Action, and Object in The Spanish Tragedy,” Medieval and Renaissance Drama 5 (1990)
  • “Subjected thus: Utterance, Character and Richard II,” Shakespeare Jahrbuch (DDR) 126 (1990)
  • “‘Nay, that’s not next’: Othello V.ii. in Performance, 17601900,” Shakespeare Quarterly (1986)
Work in Progress
  • A book-length study of social hierarchy and distinction in Shakespeare and early modern English drama
Honors, Grants, Offices, etc.
  • Trustee, Shakespeare Association of America (201013)
  • Editorial Board, The New Variorum Shakespeare (200912)
  • Editorial Board, Shakespeare Studies (2007)
  • Delegate Assembly, MLA (200407)
  • Seminar Co-leader (with Keith Wrightson) Folger Library Institute (201011)
  • Jeffrey Henderson Fellow, Boston University  (2010, 2007)
  • Executive Committee, Folger Library Institute (1999)
  • Folger Seminar Member (1999, 2003, 2007)
  • Folger Library Short-Term Fellowship (1999)
  • NEH travel grant (1985)
  • NEH Institute (1982)
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