Department of English and Comparative Literature

Professor Russ McDonald

Position held:
Professor of English Literature

+44 (0)20 7717-2963

r.mcdonald (

Room 502
5th Floor
Warmington Tower

Office hours:
Mon 12.00-13.00
Tues 13.00-14.00

BA (Honors) Duke University, 1971; MA, PhD University of Pennsylvania 1976. Teaching Positions at Mississippi State University, University of Hawaii, University of Rochester; Bank of America Excellence Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2004-2006; appointed Goldsmiths College, 2006


I am currently the convenor of 'Literature of the English Renaissance' and 'English Renaissance Theatre'; I am also teaching on Shakespeare.

Areas of supervision

I am interested in all phases of early modern English literature and culture, with particular intellectual and scholarly commitments to Renaissance poetics, Shakespearea in performance, and Elizabethan visual design.  I am happy to entertain proposals for work in any genres and authors of the period or in larger cultural topics.

Presentations and exhibitions

Invited Lectures, Papers, and Sessions

“‘Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth’:  The Power of Poetry,” Centre College, April 2014

“Shakespeare and the History of the Bookish,” Seventh Annual Blackfriars Conference Staunton, Virginia, October 2013

“Shakespeare Goes to the Opera,” Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI April 2013

“Shakespeare by Design,” Modern Language Association, Boston, January 2013

“This is too Long:  Directors vs. Scholars in the Production of Shakespeare," Cambridge University Summer School, August 2012

“Purcell’s The Faerie Queene,”  Lecture at Glyndebourne, July 2012

“Reflections on The Tempest,” The Tempest at 400, University of Verona Conference, December 2011

"Shakespeare and the Suspicion of Style,"  Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, November 2011

“Benjamin Britten’s Dreams,” UCLA Symposium on Shakespeare and Opera, November 2011

“Pretty Rooms:  The Architecture of the Shakespearean Sonnet,” Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, October 2011

“A Trip to the Moon on Gossamer Wings,” Royal Shakespeare Company Summer School, August 2011

“Shakespeare’s Brief Lives,” Cambridge University Summer School, August 2011

Presidential Address, Shakespeare Association of America, Bellevue, WA, April 2011

Chair of Panel, “Shakespeare’s Cultural Impact,” British Academy Literature Week May 2011

“Words and Wonder:  The Winter’s Tale,” Invited Lecture, University of Paris 7, Denis Diderot, December 1, 2010

“Modern Poetry, circa 1590,” Lecture at Pennsylvania State University, in Josephine Berry Weiss
Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar: The Shock of the New: Provocation and Challenge in
European Arts 1400-1650,” November 2010

“Setting the Scene:  2 Henry IV,” Shakespeare’s Globe, July 2010

“Shakespeare and the Suspicion of Style,” Centre College, March 2010

“Shakespeare and the Sonnet,” Invited Lecture, Faculty of English, University ofGenoa, November 2010

“Shakespeare and the Suspicion of Style,” North Carolina State University, October 2009

“Pretty Rooms:  The Architecture of the Elizabethan Sonnet,” Inaugural Lecture Goldsmiths College, University of London, April 2009

Professional activities

  • Member, Shakespeare Association of America (Trustee, 1997-2000; Vice President, 2009-10; President, 2010-2011)
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Warburg Institute
  • Renaissance Society of America
  • British Shakespeare Association
  • Modern Language Association of America
  • Consultant, major university and scholarly presses
  • Averitt Lecturer, Georgia Southern University, 2002
  • President, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, North Carolina, 2002-04; 2005-06

Research interests

My research interests include early modern writing, particularly poetics and rhetoric; English drama to 1700, particularly Shakespeare; history of Shakespearean performance. My current research examines poetic structures--the line, the couplet, the stanza-in light of Elizabethan visual culture, especially the passion for symmetry in architecture, gardening, clothing, and other areas of design. This project was supported by a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2004-05.

Selected publications


The Bedford Shakespeare, ed. Russ McDonald and Lena Cowen Orlin (Boston:  Bedford St. Martins, 2015): anthology of twenty-five plays, with emphasis on pedagogy and performance

Shakespeare Up Close: Reading Early Modern Texts, ed. Russ McDonald, Nicholas Nace, and Travis  D. Williams. London: Bloomsbury/Arden, 2012 

Shakespeare's Late Style (Cambridge UP, 2006)
'Look to the Lady': Sarah Siddons, Ellen Terry, and Judi Dench on the Shakespearean Stage (U of Georgia Press, 2005)
Shakespeare: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, 1945-2000 (Blackwell, 2003)
Shakespeare and the Arts of Language (Oxford UP, 2001)
The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: An Introduction with Documents (Bedford St. Martins, 1996; Second edition, 2001)

“Shakespeare and the History of the Bookish,” in Proceedings of the Seventh Blackfriars Conference, ed. Catherine Loomis and Sid Ray, forthcoming 2015

“Renaissance Rope Tricks:  Rhetoric in the Theater,” The Oxford Companion to Rhetoric, ed. Michael MacDonald, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2015

“Ornament,” in The World Shakespeare Encyclopedia, ed. Bruce Smith (New York:  Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015)

“The Language of Tragedy,” Revised Edition of The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, ed. Claire McEachern Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013

“Pretty Rooms:  The Architecture of the Elizabethan Sonnet,” in Jonathan F. S. Post, ed., The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry, (Oxford:  Oxford UP, 2013), 486-504

“Telling Stories,” in Shakespeare Up Close: Reading Early Modern Texts, ed. Russ McDonald, Nicholas Nace, and Travis D. Williams (London: Arden, 2012), 216-24

“Benjamin Britten’s Dreams,” Shakespeare Survey 65 (2012), 138-46.

“Orpheus Among the Savages:  Handel in London,” Glyndebourne Program Essay, 2011

“Ben Jonson” and miscellaneous entries on Rhetoric, in The Shakespeare Encyclopedia, ed. Patricia Parker (forthcoming)

“English Prosody” (with George T. Wright), Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2012), 432-34

“‘To Serve the Poet’:  Verdi’s Macbeth,” Glyndebourne Program Essay, 2010

“Sarah Siddons,” in Great Shakespeareans, ed. Peter Holland and Adrian Poole, Volume 1 (London:  Continuum Press, 2010)

“Shakespeare Transposed: Falstaff” Glyndebourne Program Essay, 2009 

“‘You speak a language that I understand not’:  The Poetry of the Romances,” inThe Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Romances, ed. Catherine M. S. Alexander, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

“Planned Obsolescence, or Working at the Words,” in Teaching Shakespeare:  Passing It On, ed. G. B. Shand (Oxford: BlackwePublishing, 2008), 27-42.

'Parison, or Measure for Measure,' in Renaissance Figures of Speech, ed. Adamson, Alexander, and Ettenhuber (2007, Cambridge UP)

Marlowe and Style,” in The Cambridge Companion to Marlowe, ed. Patrick Cheney, Cambridge University Press, 2004

“Fashion:  Shakespeare and Beaumont and Fletcher,” The Blackwell Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Jean Howard and Richard Dutton (Oxford:  Blackwell, 2003)

“Shakespeare’s Verse,” in Shakespeare:  An Oxford Companion, ed. Stanley Wells and Lena Orlin (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 79-92.

“The Language of Tragedy,” The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, ed. Claire McEachern (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 23- 49.

“Jonson and Shakespeare and the Rhythm of Verse,” The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson, ed. Richard Harp and Stanley Stewart (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 103-18

“Explication Checklist,” Shakespeare Magazine, Vol. II, no. 1 (1998)

“Odious Tandem,” Introduction to Shakespeare and Jonson / Jonson and Shakespeare,

___________.rpt. in Critical Essays on Ben Jonson, ed. Robert Watson, Garland Press, 1998

“Shakespeare With Tears,” Shakespeare Magazine, Vol. I, no. 3 (1997)

“Sex, Lies, and Shakespearean Drama:  Othello and Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare Set  Free, Vol. III, ed. Peggy O'Brien (New York:  Washington Square Press, 1995), pp. 3-10

“Shakespeare Goes to High School:  Some Current Practices in the American Classroom,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 46 (1995), 18-27

“The Flaw in the Flaw,” Shakespeare Set Free, Vol. I, ed. Peggy O'Brien (New York:  Washington Square Press, 1993), pp. 8-1

“Late Shakespeare:  Style and the Sexes,” Shakespeare Survey 46 (1993), pp.91-106

___________.  Reprinted in Shakespeare and Language, ed. Catherine M. S. Alexander, Cambridge University Press, 2003

“Reading The Tempest,” Shakespeare Survey, 43 (1990), pp. 15-28

___________.  Reprinted in Shakespeare Yearbook, Gale Press, 1992

___________.  Reprinted in Contexts for Criticism, ed. Donald Kesey, 1997

___________.  Reprinted in Critical Essays on “The Tempest,” ed. Virginia and Alden Vaughan (New York:  G. K. Hall, 1998)

___________.  Reprinted in Contexts for Criticism, ed. Donald Kesey, 2002

___________.  Reprinted in The Cambridge Shakespeare Library (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Richard III and the Tropes of Treachery,” Philological Quarterly, 68 (1989), 465-83

“Fear of Farce,” in “Bad” Shakespeare:  Revaluations of the Shakespeare Canon, ed. Maurice Charney (London:  Assoc. University Presses, 1988), pp. 77-90

“High Seriousness and Popular Form:  The Case of The Maid of Honour,” in Philip Massinger:  A Critical Reassessment, ed. Douglas Howard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 83-116

“Poetry and Plot in The Winter's Tale,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 36 (1985), 315-329

___________.  Reprinted in The Winter's Tale”:  Critical Essays, ed. Maurice Hunt, Garland Press, 1995

___________.  Reprinted in Shakespeare Yearbook, Gale Press, 2001

“Comedy and Flannery O'Connor,” South Atlantic Quarterly, 81 (1982), 188-201

“Jonsonian Comedy and the Value of Sejanus,” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 21 (1981), 287-305

“Sceptical Visions:  Shakespeare's Tragedies and Jonson's Comedies,” Shakespeare Survey, 34 (1981), pp. 131-47

“Othello, Thorello, and the Problem of the Foolish Hero,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 30 (1979), 51-67


Reviews of books on and performances of Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Early-Modern Language, and Opera in various scholarly and professional journals, especially The Times Literary Supplement, The Wilson Quarterly, and Opera magazine (UK); program notes for theatrical and operatic productions; review articles on the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival and the Eastern Music Festival

'Late Shakespeare: Style and the Sexes,' Shakespeare Survey 46 (1993)

'Reading The Tempest,' Shakespeare Survey 43 (1990)

'Richard III and the Tropes of Treachery', Philological Quarterly 

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