I was educated in San Francisco, Edinburgh and Oxford, and have more or less revisited this itinerary in my recent career, having taught at Berkeley, St Andrews and now, as Merton Professor, at Oxford. I work on early modern English literature and am broadly interested in the interrelations of literary form and other forms of cultural practice. In my earlier work (Thomas Nashe in Context; The Usurer’s Daughter) I was interested in literature’s relation to early modern economics, the household and usury. More recently, I have focused on the shared ground between dramatic verisimilitude and legal or forensic rhetoric. A Guggenheim Fellowship helped me write The Invention of Suspicion, which won the Roland Bainton Prize (2008), while Circumstantial Shakespeare came from being asked to give the Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures in 2012. Finally, The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700 won the Bainton Reference Prize in 2018. A Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on the imagining of England and Scotland pre 1603 led me to my current project, England’s Insular Imagining, which explores the early modern literary contribution – through political theology, chorography, drama, romance poetry – to the imagining of England as the whole island of Britain.
I am a Fellow of the British Academy through which I work to support humanities research in Britain. I am also Director of the Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford and am on the editorial board of an exciting monograph series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture.