The London Shakespeare Centre is devoted to research, learning and teaching in Shakespeare and early modern drama and in early modern English literary studies as a whole. We have particular strengths in Shakespearean textual studies, reception studies and performance studies, but we are equally passionate about sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry and poetic form, manuscript culture, early modern women’s writing and the politics of literature. We are leading contributors to the London Shakespeare Seminar. The Centre builds on our external partnerships, notably those at Master’s level and beyond with Shakespeare’s Globe and The British Library and with the various cultural organisations that formed the Shakespeare400 consortium to celebrate the Shakespeare Quatercentenary in 2016, including The National Archives, Film London, the Royal Society of Literature, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and many others. See Our Partners page for details.
We offer a range of specialist academic programmes at BA, MA and PhD level as well as summer schools and short courses to promote Shakespeare studies beyond the academic community. The Centre works across disciplinary boundaries, both in teaching and research, forming links with, for example, our academic Departments of History, Film Studies, Digital Humanities, and Culture, Media & C reative Industries.
The English Department at King’s has a distinguished international reputation for the study of Shakespeare and early modern English literature, with a history of outstanding academics in the past, including Israel Gollancz, Geoffrey Bullough and Richard Proudfoot, and distinguished students including Virginia Woolf. We cover a great deal of ground, both critically and editorially. We are known for our work in early modern archaism, poetic form, etymology, letters, patronage, court culture, family politics and wordplay. We debate issues from collaborative playwriting to digital humanities to global Shakespeares, and we are especially strong in material culture and in reception history – in the ways in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries have been understood and appropriated in subsequent centuries, especially in Britain and in Germany. Our close connections with the Globe means that we are actively engaged with theatre history, theatre architecture, performance studies and dramaturgy. And we are involved very visibly in a number of world-renowned editions of Shakespeare and of other early modern dramatists. Ann Thompson, King’s Professor Emerita, is a General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare, third series, and co-editor of the two-volume, three-text Hamlet. Gordon McMullan is a General Textual Editor of the Norton Shakespeare, a General Editor of Arden Early Modern Drama, editor of Henry VIII for the Arden Shakespeare and 1 Henry IV and Romeo and Juliet for Norton Critical Editions. Sonia Massai edited ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore for Arden Early Modern Drama, and has co-edited the two-volume Cambridge edition of Paratexts in English Drama to 1642. John Lavagnino is co-general editor, with Gary Taylor, of the Oxford Middleton. Lucy Munro has edited Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed and Ford, Dekker and Rowley’s The Witch of Edmonton for Arden Early Modern Drama. Ann Thompson edited Cymbeline, Hannah Crawforth The Two Noble Kinsmen and Gordon McMullan Romeo and Juliet for the Norton Shakespeare. And a different version of editing is apparent in the collection On Shakespeare’s Sonnets, co-edited by Hannah Crawforth and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, which includes a series of new poems by well-known poets responding to the Sonnets.
As a group of scholars, we are committed both to critical work – in fields ranging from cultural studies to feminism to political and social history to the analysis of poetic form – and to editorial work, and this range enables us to offer teaching and supervision in three key areas sought by potential students: in the original circumstances and historical contexts for the production of early modern literary and dramatic texts; in the nature of those texts and their reproduction and transmission; and in the subsequent analysis, adaptation and appropriation of those texts – especially of Shakespeare’s plays and poems – around the world.
'Shakespeare's work in particular has been for centuries one of the things people use to think with: the history of Shakespeare reception winds up being a focused history of our whole culture.'
Dr John Lavagnino
The London Shakespeare Centre is part of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute which is a hub to foster innovative interdisciplinary research across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and beyond.