Curran Kevin

Curran Kevin

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Research areas

English Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare, Early Modern Literature, Theater Studies
I am a specialist in Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama with broad interests in the relationship between the history of ideas and the material conditions of theater. Central to my work in this area has been a preoccupation with law. My first monograph, Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court (Ashgate, 2009), which was released in paperback in 2016, considers these matters from a political-historical perspective. My second monograph, Shakespeare's Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood (Northwestern University Press, 2017), addresses law in both philosophical and intellectual-historical terms. The book offers the first sustained study of the relationship between law and selfhood in Shakespeare's writing and dramaturgy. I am also the editor or co-editor of two volumes of essays: a special issue of the journal Criticism on "Shakespeare and Phenomenology" (2012), co-edited with James Kearney, and a book on Shakespeare and Judgment (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). My work has been supported by grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Harry Ransom Research Center, among others. In 2017 I was named Distinguished International Visiting Fellow at the Center for the History of Emotions in Australia.

Beyond the university, I serve on the Representative Council of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Renaissance Society of America Council, and the Executive Committee of the MLA's Law and Humanities Forum. In 2012, I won the Kesterson Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching and the Professor of the Year Award.

For a full list of my publications, collaborations, and projects, see my personal website:




Kevin Curran specializes in English Renaissance drama with a particular focus on Shakespeare. He is the editor of the book series “Edinburgh Critical Studies in Shakespeare and Philosophy” and author of Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood (2017) and Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court (2009). He is the editor of Renaissance Personhood (2019), Shakespeare and Judgment (2016), and co-editor of a special issue of the journal Criticism on “Shakespeare and Phenomenology” (2012). In 2017, Prof. Curran was named Distinguished International Visiting Fellow at the Center for the History Of Emotions in Australia. He is the founder and President of the Lausanne Shakespeare Festival.




Kevin Curran, Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood. Northwestern University Press, 2017.

Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies offers the first sustained examination of the relationship between law and selfhood in Shakespeare’s work. Taking five plays and the sonnets as case studies, Kevin Curran argues that law provided Shakespeare with the conceptual resources to imagine selfhood in social and distributed terms, as a product of interpersonal exchange or as a gathering of various material forces. In the course of these discussions, Curran reveals Shakespeare’s distinctly communitarian vision of personal and political experience, the way he regarded living, thinking, and acting in the world as materially and socially embedded practices.
At the center of the book is Shakespeare’s fascination with questions that are fundamental to both law and philosophy: What are the sources of agency? What counts as a person? For whom am I responsible, and how far does that responsibility extend? What is truly mine? Curran guides readers through Shakespeare’s responses to these questions, paying careful attention to both historical and intellectual contexts.
The result is a book that advances a new theory of Shakespeare’s imaginative relationship to law and an original account of law’s role in the ethical work of his plays and sonnets. Readers interested in Shakespeare, theater and philosophy, law, and the history of ideas will find Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies to be an essential resource.

ISBN: 9780810135185

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