Professor Elizabeth Hanson

PhD Johns Hopkins

Elizabeth Hanson

Contact Information

Office: Watson 429
Office Hours: Fri. 10:00–11:30 am
Extension: 74441

Research Interests

Renaissance drama, early modern education, and literacy studies.

Recent Publications

  • “Education, the University and Marlowe,” Christopher Marlowe in Context, ed. Emily Bartels and Emma Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 181–191.
  • “Object Lesson: The Register of the School’s Probation, Merchant Taylors’ School, 1606,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 6.3 (2013).
  • “Schooling and Distributive Justice in Early Modern England” In Early Modern Literature and Justice, ed. Donald Beecher et al. (University of Toronto Press, forthcoming.)
  • “Fellow Students: Hamlet, Horatio and the Early Modern University,” Shakespeare Quarterly.  62:1 (2011)
  • Measure for Measure and the Law of Nature,” Shakespeare and the Law, ed. Karen Cunningham and Constance Jordan (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007) 249–265.
  • “ ‘There’s Meat and Money Too’: Rich Widows and Allegories of Wealth in Jacobean City Comedies,” ELH 72 (2005).
  • “The Interiority of Ability,” The Dalhousie Review 85:2 (2005).


I am currently at work on a SSHRCC-funded book tentatively entitled Education and Social Distinction in Early Modern England that concerns the so-called “education revolution” in sixteenth century England. This transformation entailed both a dramatic expansion in the number of free public grammar schools and a change in the function of the universities, which had hitherto been solely clerical institutions, to the production of a more general intellectual and social elite. This “revolution” is one of the forces that produced the English literary Renaissance at the same time that it challenged the principles of social distinction within the culture. The project draws on the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, school and university history, early modern pedagogical writings and drama that engage with the place of the learned such as Hamlet, Love’s Labours Lost, and Dr. Faustus.

I am the author of Discovering the Subject in Renaissance England (Cambridge UP, 1998; re-issued in paperback, 2008), and articles related to the current project as well as ones on law and Shakespeare, economics and Jacobean drama, Renaissance women’s writing, the Elizabethan use of interrogatory torture, and Milton’s poetry. I have published in journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly, ELH, The Yale Journal of Criticism, Representations, and The Elizabethan Theatre. I am also currently mapping out a project concerning high literacy and the social imaginary in the English speaking world with foci including the early modern, Victorian and twentieth century England, and late 20th-century North America.

For Graduate Students

I welcome graduate students working on a wide range of topics related to Renaissance English literature and to the politics of literary education in any period. I have supervised two dissertations directly related to the “education revolution” project and funded several research assistants whose duties, in one case, included archival research in London. Here is a complete list of my supervisions since 2000:

  • Ian Maness, “Militant Nostalgia: Anachronism and Chivalric Ideals in Early Modern England” (in progress) 
  • Julia Gingerich, “ ‘The Paragon of Animals’: Animals, Animality and the Limits of the Human in Early Modern Literature” (in progress)
  • Jelena Marelj, “Recharacterizing Shakespearean Character” (2013; co-supervision with Marta Straznicky)
  • Irene Bom, “Margaret Cavendish’s Epistemology” (in progress)
  • Emily Anglin, “Melancholia and the Universities in Seventeenth Century England” (2011)
  • Eric Carlson, “Early Modern Cultural Capital: from Rhetoric to Literature in the Early Modern University” (2009)
  • Colleen Shea, “ ‘Author of Prodigies’: Characterizations of the Female Letter-writer in Renaissance Literature” (2008)
  • Sheetal Lodhia, “Material Self-Fashioning and the Renaissance Culture of Improvement” (2008)
  • Brandon Christopher, “ ‘An Office with a Knave’s Name’: Early Modern Drama and Early English Bureaucracy” (2007)
  • Louise Noble, “ ‘Corpus Salubris’: Medicinal Cannibalism in the Culture Early Modern England” (2002; co-supervision with Marta Straznicky)
  • Janelle Jenstad, “Change and Exchange: Merchants and Goldsmiths on the Early Modern Stage" (2000)
  • Jennifer Turner, “Subjects in Space: The Politics of Travel in Early Modern England” (2000)