Dr Sonia Massai
Reader in Shakespeare Studies
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2558
Address Room S2.08 Strand Building
Department of English
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS
Dr Sonai Massai started teaching in the English Department at King’s College London in 2003. She has since then taught undergraduate and postgraduate students, acted as Deputy Head of the School of Arts and Humanities, Education (2008-11) and developed and convened a new MA in Early Modern English Literature: Text and Transmission, taught in partnership with the British Library. This MA has been running for four years and has trained graduate students who now work in publishing, teaching, or as curators and research fellows in major libraries and art galleries, or are studying on prestigious PhD programmes at King’s and at other top Universities in the UK and overseas.
In September 2009, Dr Massai acted as lead organiser of ‘Local / Global Shakespeares’, a large international conference co-hosted by King’s and Globe Education, under the auspices of the British Shakespeare Association. This conference attracted over 300 delegates from 33 countries worldwide and included the premiere of a production of The Merchant of Venice by a leading Taiwanese company in the style of bangzi, a regional genre of Chinese opera.
Dr Massai was a Leverhulme Research Fellow in 2006-07 and was short-listed for the ‘Young Researcher of the Year’ Award for the Times Higher Education Supplement Awards in 2007. In 2010, she was selected for the King’s College London Student Union President’s Wreaths Award, which is given to members of staff in recognition of ‘truly extraordinary serviced to the KCLSU/college community and commitment to improving the student experience’.
Dr Massai is a founding member of the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s College London and a member of the London Shakespeare Seminar organising committee. She has been a member of the Malone Society Council since 2001-2002.
the transmission of Shakespeare and other major dramatists from manuscript to print in the early modern period
the editorial tradition through which Shakespeare and his contemporaries have been re-presented to subsequent generations of readers
appropriations of Shakespeare across different media, languages and cultures
Dr Massai has published widely in the three areas of research interest listed above. Her main publications include a new Arden Early Modern Drama edition of John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (2011). Her introduction and commentary provide new insights into the play’s setting, the role of its (in)famous heroine Annabella, and early modern attitudes to incest. Her book on Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (Cambridge University Press, 2007) gives the first account of a pre-history of the editorial tradition in the late 16th and 17th centuries, identifying early correctors as a previously overlooked category of textual agents who silently ‘perfected’ Shakespeare’s texts before Nicholas Rowe, the first named editor of the complete works, published his landmark edition in 1709. Also central to research interests is a collection of essays on World-wide Shakespeares, which Dr Massai edited for Routledge in 2005. In the essay and the introduction she discussed ways in which we can begin to survey and analyse the wealth of Shakespearean appropriations produced in increasingly multicultural circumstances and contexts.
Dr Massai's current and future research projects include a new edition of The Paratext in English Printed Drama to 1642 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2013) and a new collection on Shakespeare and Textual Studies (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2015).
In The Paratext in English Printed Drama to 1642, ( with co-editor, Thomas L Berger), Dr Massai has transcribed and annotated all the different types of paratexts included in early modern playbooks, namely dedications, addresses to the readers, lists of dramatis personae and lists of errata, printers’ notes, prologues and epilogues, and, of course, title-pages. These paratextual materials are a rich, largely under-investigated, source of information on crucial issues at the forefront of critical debate in Shakespeare, Early Modern English Drama, Renaissance Studies, Bibliography, and the History of the Book. Such issues include the complex history of dramatic authorship in the period, Renaissance attitudes towards drama in print, contemporary views on the ‘purpose of playing’, notorious literary wrangles such as the War of the Poets, and the material conditions of theatrical and textual production of early modern drama on the stage and in the printing house.
The new collection on Shakespeare and Textual Studies, (co-editing with MJ Kidnie, University of Western Ontario) for Cambridge University Press, will include 27 new essays and will be research-led, evaluative, and forward-looking. It will showcase the latest thinking about book history, textual studies, and editorial theories and practice in Shakespeare Studies, as well as the key players in the field.
Dr Massai is also currently working on a new book on Intercultural Shakespeare in Performance, where a selection of recent productions are discussed in light of their impact on Shakespearean performance traditions, on their audiences, and on how we understand the role of interculturalism in contemporary performance.
Selected monographs and edited volumes
Sonia Massai (ed.), John Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, The Arden Early Modern Drama series (London: A & C Black, 2011), pp. xvii, 267
Sonia Massai, Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. xii, 254
Sonia Massai, World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance, edited with introduction by Sonia Massai (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. xii, 199
Sonia Massai, 'Editorial Pledges in Early Modern Paratexts', in Renaissance Paratexts, ed. by Helen Smith and Louise Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2011), pp. 141-61
Sonia Massai, 'Shakespeare's Early Readers', in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare, ed. by Arthur Kinney (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 143-164
Sonia Massai, ‘Invisible Middleton and the Bibliographical Context’, in Middleton in Context, ed. by Suzanne Gossett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 317-24
Sonia Massai, ‘Shakespeare, Text, and Paratext’, in Shakespeare Survey 62 (2009), pp. 1-11
Sonia Massai, ‘Queering the Gaze: Julia Pascal’s The Merchant of Venice’, Pascale Drouet (ed.), The Spectacular in and around Shakespeare (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 113-22
Sonia Massai, ‘Working with the Texts: Differential Reading’, in Andrew Murphy (ed.), A Concise Companion to Shakespeare and the Text (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), pp. 252-77
Sonia Massai, ‘Subjection and Redemption in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Che Cosa Sono Le Nuvole? (1967)’, in Sonia Massai (ed.), World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 95-103
Sonia Massai, ‘Scholarly Editing and the Shift from Print to Electronic Cultures’, in Textual Performances, ed. by Lukas Erne and Margaret Jane Kidnie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 94-108
Selected / Recent Reviews
Review of Poonam Trivedi and Minami Ryuta (eds), Re-playing Shakespeare in Asia (New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010), in Theatre Research International 36 (2011), pp.302-303
Review of Michael Hunter,Editing Early Modern Texts. An Introduction to Principles and Practice, (Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke and New York, 2007), in Editionen in der Kritik 3 (2009), pp. 15-19
Review of Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works and Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), in Cahiers Elisabethains 74 (2008), pp. 81-83
Review of David M Bergeron, Textual Patronage in English Drama, 1570-1640 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), in Shakespeare Quarterly 58 (2007), pp. 398-400
Review of Michele Marrapodi, Shakespeare, Italy, and Intertextuality (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), in Shakespeare Quarterly 57 (2006), pp. 97-100
Review of Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) in The Library 6 (2005), pp. 196-198
Review of Lukas Erne, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), in The Yearbook of the German Shakespeare Society (Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft) (2004)
Review of Robyn Myers, Michael Harris and Giles Mandelbrote (eds), The London Book Trade: Topographies of Print in the Metropolis from the Sixteenth Century (The British Library and Oak Knoll Press, 2003) for The London Journal (2004)
Dr Massai teaches on the following courses:
Dr Massai is currently on research leave
Since Dr Massai started teaching in the English Department at King’s in 2003, she has taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules covering all the main aspects of theatrical and textual cultures in early modern London, the work of Shakespeare and other major playwrights, including John Ford, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Heywood, Ben Jonson, and Richard Brome, and appropriations of Shakespeare from the Restoration to the present, with special emphasis on the late 20th and the early 21st centuries. She has also developed and convened new undergraduate modules, such as Early Modern Sexualities, a popular 2nd year option, and postgraduate taught modules, including Local/Global Shakespeares and Professing Writing.
Dr Massai works closely with national and international theatre directors and always invites at least one director to lead a seminar with the students who have seen his / her work as part of the Local/Global Shakespeares module, which includes weekly screenings of theatrical and cinematic appropriations of Shakespeare. Internationally acclaimed directors Ivo van Hove(Toneelgroep Amsterdam), Jatinder Verma (TARA Arts), Arne Pohlmeier (Two Gents Productions) and Julia Pascal are just some of the guest speakers who have led seminars and workshops as part of this module. Also very popular is another MA module called Professing Writing which is aimed at students who are interested in non-Shakespearean and non-literary early modern texts, such as diaries, letters, sermons, travel writing, as well as canonical literature, and is team taught by a group of experts from and beyond the English Department at King’s.
Dr Massai welcomes enquries from prospective doctoral students who wish to work on the following topics:
the editing of Shakespeare and his contemporaries
the textual transmission of Shakespeare from the early modern period to the present
the appropriation of Shakespeare in national, international and intercultural contexts
textual and theatrical cultures in early modern London