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November 19, 2012

Alice Dailey

My primary field of study is early modern literature, with a secondary field in literature of the Middle Ages. My research coheres around a broad set of questions about how stories of violence are told and retold. I’m interested in the literary structures that organize and rehearse acts of violence, especially structures that rely on the audience’s recognition of an old death in a new form. In particular, my work looks at sixteenth- and seventeenth-century reiterations of historical, literary, and religious scenes of violence that are inherited from earlier models, be they biblical, patristic, medieval, or relatively contemporary. My work considers the forms reiteration takes in the context of discrete historical moments of literary production, considering how both sedimented and emerging literary structures exert constitutive pressure over historical events.

These interests have led to two main projects focused on rather disparate literary materials. The first is a forthcoming book, The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution, which studies the development of English martyrological literature from the late Middle Ages to the execution of King Charles I in 1649. This book considers how the martyrological form—traditionally defined by strict paradigm repetition—attempts to reconcile the broad range of individuals, beliefs, and persecutions seeking legitimation through martyrdom during the tumultuous period of the English Reformation. My current research project focuses on Shakespeare’s English chronicle plays. This work brings together theories of performance, memory, trauma, and somatics to think about the representation of dead, dismembered, and remembered historical bodies on the early modern stage. These two projects likewise summarize my principal teaching areas: hagiography and martyrology, religious polemics of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, medieval Passion drama, Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and Shakespeare in performance.

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