About

Dr Amy Lidster, FRHistS

Biography

I received my first degree in English Literature from the University of London in 2013, an MA in English (Shakespeare in History) from University College London in 2014, and a PhD in English Literature (‘Producing the history play: The agency of repertory companies, stationers, and patronage networks in early modern England’) from King’s College London in 2017, which was funded by the LAHP/AHRC. I joined Jesus College and the University of Oxford in 2021 as a Departmental Lecturer in English Language and Literature. Previously, I worked at King’s College London as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on a Leverhulme-funded project called ‘Wartime Shakespeare: The Fashioning of Public Opinion through Performance’. I have been awarded research fellowships from the Huntington Library, Folger Shakespeare Library, and Society for Renaissance Studies (as a 2018/19 Postdoctoral Fellow). In addition to College and Faculty teaching at Oxford, I have taught at King’s College London, Stanford University, Brunel University London, University of Roehampton, and Shakespeare’s Globe. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My Oxford English Faculty page is here and my Jesus College profile can be found here.

Research interests

My principal research interests are in Shakespeare and early modern literature, with an emphasis on the conditions of theatrical and textual production and practices of historiography. My first monograph, Publishing the History Play in the Time of Shakespeare: Stationers Shaping a Genre, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022 (paperback in February 2024) and draws on my doctoral research. It explores the relationship between the publishing of history plays and the different ways in which these plays were read and used during the early modern period. My book draws attention to the assumptions that underlie discussions of the history play as a genre, particularly in relation to the critical dominance of Shakespeare’s English histories. It concentrates on publishers and argues that these agents and their networks have controlled the survival of history plays from the commercial stages and shaped the plays’ presentation in print in ways that both disclose and direct readings of the plays. History playbooks reveal their publishers’ readings and also influence the experiences of early modern and modern readers. The strategies of production agents in selecting, editing, and marketing history plays provide untapped evidence about how ideas and uses of history were negotiated, how history plays were read alongside non-dramatic materials, and how they were applied by their readers to contemporary political contexts.

As part of my work on ‘Wartime Shakespeare’I explore how Shakespeare has been used in performance to inform and mobilize public opinion during periods of war and war-threatening crises from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. My research investigates the position of Shakespeare’s plays as part of wartime propaganda over the longue durée, showing how these appropriations relate to narratives of conflict, to developments in war reporting, to Shakespeare’s changing cultural capital as a figure of national and global significance, and to popular attitudes towards war efforts. A monograph based on my findings – Wartime Shakespeare: Performing Narratives of Conflict – was published by Cambridge University Press in October 2023. With Sonia Massai, I co-edited a collection of essays (Shakespeare at War: A Material History, CUP 2023) and curated the exhibition ‘Shakespeare and War’ at The National Army Museum, London, open from 6 October 2023 until 1 September 2024.

I developed the research from my SRS Postdoctoral Fellowship (more details here) into a third monograph – Authorships and Authority in Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts – which is forthcoming with Routledge. This book concentrates on ideas of authorship and authority as they are explored in the paratexts of playbooks published in England between 1500 and 1660. It considers how plays from the commercial stages, re-presented as books, variously engage with questions of what it means to be an author, a reviser, a publisher, or a patron of a play and conceptualizes how a range of different agents act as ‘authorizers’. My book argues that the idea of the author (as it refers to the individual(s) who wrote a play) is subsumed within discussions of other forms of authorization – the author is one among many agents. But there is also clarity within this fragmentation of ‘authority’: some dramatists and stationers were consistently invested in putting forward their own distinctive views about playbook authorization and the monograph concentrates in particular on the influence and lasting significance of these individuals.

In addition to these three main projects, I am co-editing Edward III with Sonia Massai for Linked Early Modern Drama Online (LEMDO) and preparing the introduction for the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Henry VI Part 1. I have published widely in journals including Shakespeare SurveyShakespeare Studies, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare, and English: Journal of the English Association. In July 2019, I co-organized (with Kim Gilchrist) a major conference called Changing Histories: Rethinking the Early Modern History Play at King’s College London. More details are available through the conference website.

Twitter: @amy_lidster