Jane Kingsley-Smith
20012021

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Biography

My main research interest is Shakespeare, both in relation to other contemporary dramatists and lyric poets, and in terms of his adaptation and appropriation in literature and cinema.

I have published three monographs: Shakespeare's Drama of Exile (Palgrave, 2003), Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Cambridge, 2010) and most recently The Afterlife of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Cambridge, 2019). This is the first major consideration of the Sonnets' reception, covering a period of 400 years, and challenges a number of our assumptions about the authenticity of the Quarto, the value of the sequence, and the afterlife of individual Sonnets. I have uncovered some previously undiscussed parallels between the Sonnets of Shakespeare and Lady Mary Wroth, suggesting that she may have been one of his early readers. I have also found that many of the Sonnets we remember today were not those which were admired in earlier centuries (some were not even in print), and that the publication of the 1609 Quarto may actually have damaged their reputation and their afterlife. I discuss some of these findings in an interview I recently recorded for the Folger Shakespeare library, and a blogpost on CUP's website. 

As an editor, I have worked on Love's Labour's Lost for the Norton 3rd series, and a collection of plays by Webster and Ford for Penguin. In 2018, I was invited as a keynote speaker at the ENS conference in Lyon, and my paper entitled "Mine Eyes Dazzle": Editing The Duchess of Malfi' has recently been published in John Webster's Dismal Tragedy': The Duchess of Malfi Reconsidered by Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal (2019).

My current research interest is Shakespeare's Sonnets in performance. I want to understand how they imagine themselves being performed, and how this relates to their existence as material objects, 'private' lyric meditations and dramatic soliloquies. I am also interested in how they have been performed since 1609, in terms of music, theatre, ballet and film. This will be the subject of my next book. 

Qualifications

BA (Hons) Oriel College, Oxford

PhD, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

 

Research interests

My main research interest is Shakespeare in his historical and cultural context, with a focus on modern adaptation and appropriation.

My first monograph, Shakespeare's Drama of Exile, was published by Palgrave in 2003. It considered banishment in early modern England, and its function as a catalyst for personal, linguistic, romantic and political crisis in Shakespeare's plays.

For my second book, I broadened out into the field of early modern desire: the Erotic and the erotic. Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2010) explores not only the range of desires Cupid might represent, but also the acts of transgression performed in his name, disrupting categories of gender, class, hierarchy and religious difference. Although the focus of the book is literature, it also considers Cupid's representation in contemporary paintings, emblems, tapestry, embroidery and book illustrations.

After editing Love's Labor's Lost for the new Norton Shakespeare in 2015, I found myself drawn back to Shakespeare's Sonnets. I have written on the ways in which these contribute to fictional biographies of Shakespeare in the novel, film and television, particularly William Boyd's TV drama, A Waste of Shame. In October 2012, I organised a conference on 'Shakespeare and the Contemporary Sonnet' which brought together scholars and poets including Don Paterson, Heather Dubrow, Harryette Mullen, Philip Terry and Tim Atkins.

I have recently published my third monograph, The Afterlife of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Cambridge, 2019). This traces the reception of Shakespeare's Sonnets, including editing, criticism and creative appropriation, from 1599-1999, and seeks to identify which Sonnets have been briefly fashionable and/or 'popular' at different historical and cultural moments, and which have achieved the kind of enduring appeal of which the Sonnet speaker repeatedly boasts. 

At the 2016 SAA in Atlanta, I participated in a panel discussion on the theme of counterfeiting and the Sonnets - exploring the forgeries of William Henry Ireland and the dubious authenticity of the Sonnets per se. To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, I also chaired a seminar on the Sonnets at the Shakespeare World Congress in Stratford and London.

In summer 2017 I ran a summer school entitled Shakespeare and Love for Shakespeare's Globe, which featured a number of high profile speakers and included workshops with the cast of Much Ado About Nothing

In Spring 2018, I spoke at a London Shakespeare Seminar on appropriations of the Sonnets by contemporary poets. Later that year, I was a keynote speaker at the conference in Lyons, 'John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi Reconsidered', where I spoke about my experience of editing the play for Penguin. The essay based on this paper is now available in John Webster's Dismal Tragedy: The Duchess of Malfi Reconsidered, published by Presses Universitaires Pascal Blaise in 2019. 

 

Research projects

Myself and my colleague in North America, William Rampone Jnr, have recently signed a contract with Palgrave for a collection of essays called Shakespeare's Global Sonnets: Translation, Appriopriation, Performance, for publication in 2022. This gives us the opportunity to work with scholars across the world, exploring the different ways in which the Sonnets have been interpreted and re-performed. 

I am also working on a new monograph about the performance of Shakespeare's Sonnets. This will look back over the history of staged readings by famous actors, and the Sonnets' incorporation into performances of the Complete Works. It will also look at their adaptation through music, film, dance, and drama. 

More recently, I gave a paper at 'The Experience of Loneliness in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries' conference. This paper looked at the use of Sonnet 29 ('When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes') during the pandemic as offering a particular kind of solace for loneliness. It also considered the sonnet as an intrinsically 'lonely' form and the way in which this theme in Shakespeare's Sonnets has shaped their reception history. This is an idea that I'd like to take further.

 

Professional affiliations

Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Consultancy work

I have been an external examiner for the postgraduate taught MAs at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, and for the undergraduate English programme at the University of Westminster, London.

I am a peer reviewer for the journals Shakespeare and Shakespeare Quarterly, and for Routledge and the Arden Early Modern Series for Bloomsbury. I am also the author of the Critical Reviews section for Shakespeare Survey

Teaching

My specialist modules at Roehampton include Shakespeare: Page and Stage, Shakespeare as a Literary Dramatist, and Shakespeare on Screen, but I have also taught widely across the programme, including Discovering Literature, The Literary Renaissance and the Dissertation.

I am available for PhD supervision on a range of early modern topics, including Shakespeare, early modern sonnets and lyric poetry, and Shakespeare on screen. I also have experience of Creative-Critical PhDs. 

Consultancy work

Public Outreach/Knowledge Exchange

I have taken advantage of a number of opportunities recently to encourage discussion of, and public knowledge about, the Sonnets.

In 2020, I produced two podcasts on the Sonnets for 'Shakespeare Unlimited' for the Folger Shakespeare Library. These were both in the top ten most listened to podcasts for that year.

I also produced three YouTube videos for the Shakespeare 2020 project, led by Ian Doescher, intended as guidance to new readers of the Sonnets.

When the theatres were closed due to Covid, many turned to recordings of the Sonnets to keep in touch with their audiences. As part of a 'Celebration of Sonnets' event on Valentine's Day, I recorded a series of short clips on key topics related to the Sonnets for Archway Theatre company with the director Greg Field. 

Keywords

  • PE English
  • Shakespeare, Sonnets, The Duchess of Malfi, Love's Labour's Lost, revenge tragedy