‘Feigned commonwealths’: drama as debate over visions of the state, 1590-1608.
I'm very interested in interdisciplinary approaches, having done my undergraduate degree at Oxford in History and English, during which I specialised in the early modern period, and having just completed my Masters in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London. My undergraduate thesis examined the manner in which a small group of early modern plays from around 1590 to 1610 intervened in the contested discourse of 'commonwealth' in order to make critiques of governance; this doctoral project continues that work, aiming to examine more broadly the development of concepts of the state as an apparatus of authority separate from the person of the monarch. I aim to look specifically at how drama, in a period of great political and socio-economic shifts (notably the Elizabethan succession crisis), could act as a popular intervention into the realm of political discourse. I wish to uncover the theatre's potential as a space for debate but also as a mode of constituting and defining political meaning for a broader part of society than political history is often concerned with.
I am especially interested in considering drama in performance as a source base for the study of political and intellectual history; my Masters thesis examined the mutual performative modes of law and drama, arguing for a shared hermeneutics of the body that allowed both actor and lawyer to appear believable. I hope to bring the ideas of performing jurisdiction and authority into an examination of the way drama could act as a form of popular, accessible discourse over the structure of political authority.