Name: Alexander D Thom
PhD: Shakespeare Studies
Thesis Title: King Lear, sovereign power, and political selfhood
This project analyses theologically-inflected structures of power in Shakespeare’s King Lear, contributing to a considerable field of scholarship. By also employing Giorgio Agamben’s political theory (1996-2016), which demonstrates the contemporary resonance of Renaissance politico-juridical structures, I will therefore seek to assess Shakespeare’s depiction of law from a new perspective that is both attentive to its historicity and to its modern philosophical, political, and theatrical implications.
My reading will also draw upon plays from Shakespeare's wider career and repertoire of genres. Chapters will be allocated according to the exemplary figures and legal problems addressed. Each chapter therefore contains readings of relevant historical documents (e.g. Plowden, 1571), the wider dramatic context, and theoretical concerns. My historically sensitive analysis will approach the play-texts as both objects for performance and composite literary texts. The thesis will also reflect the extensive performance history of King Lear, as well as engaging critically with the numerous adaptations it has spawned, including Nahum Tate's highly successful stage-play.
Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Erin Sullivan (University of Birmingham), and Prof Ewan Fernie (University of Birmingham).
Publications and Conferences:
- Seminar Paper: "In Praise of Touchstone." Shakespeare Association of America Conference, 18 April 2019. Washington, D.C.
- Seminar Discussion: "Wolfshead: Caput Gerat Lupinum, the Outlaw, and Agamben." Literature of the Early Modern and Medieval (LEMMae) Research Group, 25 February 2019, University of Birmingham.
- Online Article: "Paul Nash and King Lear in the SBT Collections." Explore Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 21 December 2018. Web. URL: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/paul-nash-and-king-lear-sbt-collections/
- Conference Paper: "Who is it that can tell me who I am?" Offices of the Jurist: Cardozo School of Law. 2 December 2018. Manhattan, New York City.
- Review: "Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (Directed by Fiona Laird for the Royal Shakespeare Company) at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 16 August 2018." In Shakespeare, November 2018. DOI: 10.1080/17450918.2018.1543346
- Online Article: "Henry Irving and Ford Madox Brown." Explore Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 28 November 2018. Web. URL: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/henry-irving-and-ford-madox-brown/
- Online Article: "Tate's Lear." Explore Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 15 November 2018. Web. URL: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/tates-lear/
- Seminar Paper: "'To liberty and not to banishment': Banishment, exile, and the wilderness on the Renaissance English stage." Royal Shakespeare Company Academic Briefing, 18 September 2018. Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Online Article: "Playbills for King Lear: 1752-1827." Explore Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 5 September 2018. Web. URL: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/playbills-king-lear-1752-1827/
- Conference Paper: "The Prince and the Cannibal: 'Figures of Exclusion' in Mucedorus (c. 1591/1610)." British Graduate Shakespeare Conference. June 2018. Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Seminar Paper: "'Freedom Lives Hence and Banishment is Here': Banishment versus Exile in King Lear." Flight, Exile, Migration: Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft. April 2018, Weimar.
- Conference Paper: "'The Catastrophe of the Old Comedy': Edgar and the Playing of Banishment." Shakespeare at Play: ANZSA. February 2018, Melbourne.
- Online Article: "Richard Mosse, Agamben, and the Political Theologies of the Refugee Crisis." Overland Literary Journal, 27 February 2018. Web. URL: https://overland.org.au/2018/02/richard-mosse-agamben-and-the-political-theologies-of-the-refugee-crisis/
- Online Article: "Banishment as a Romance Convention in Early English Drama (c. 1581-1591)." Before Shakespeare, 19 January 2018. Web. URL: https://beforeshakespeare.com/2018/01/19/banishment-as-a-romance-convention-in-early-english-drama-c-1581-1591/
- Conference Paper: "'There's no more to be said': Responding to banishment in Shakespeare's drama." British Graduate Shakespeare Conference. June 2017. Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Review: "Giorgio Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm, Nicholas Heron (transl.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015)." In Cultural History, 6.1 (2017): 108-110.
- Conference Paper: "Reading the Forest: Ecological Legibility and As You Like It." Into the Woods Symposium, in Association with the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. July 2015, University of Melbourne.
Academic Positions/Scholarly Engagement/Voluntary Positions:
- Postgraduate Teaching Associate - Shakespeare's Craftsmanship - Shakespeare Institute
- Birmingham Representative - New Voices in Post-Colonial Studies Research Network - WRoCAH and M3C
- Research Advocate - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
- Postgraduate Teaching Associate - Research Skills - Shakespeare Institute
- Facilitator - "Shakespeare's Emotions, Lost and Found" - Royal Shakespeare Company
- Research Students' Representative - Student-Staff Committee - Shakespeare Institute
- Research Assistant - English and Theatre Studies - University of Melbourne
- Teaching Assistant - Shakespeare in Performance - University of Melbourne
- Guest Speaker - Research Principles and Practices - University of Melbourne
- President - Melbourne University Shakespeare Company
Prizes and Awards:
- Louis Marder Shakespeare Centre Scholarship - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
- Bowen Prize - University of Melbourne
- Shakespeare Scholarship - University of Melbourne
- Louise Homfrey Trust Prize - University of Melbourne's Theatre Board
- Burrows Drama Award - Devonport High School for Boys
Other Research Interests:
- Political Philosophy
- Commercial English Drama, 1580-1625
- Banishment, Exile, and Displacement
- History of Ideas
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