Distinguished Shakespearean scholar appointed as new Director of Shakespeare Institute

Posted on Wednesday 31st August 2011

The Shakespeare Institute, the University of Birmingham’s international centre for exploration of the work of Shakespeare and the drama of his time, is seeking to enhance its international prestige and reputation as the destination of choice for postgraduate study with the appointment of distinguished Shakespearean scholar, Professor Michael Dobson, as its new Director and Professor of Shakespeare Studies. 

Professor Dobson is currently Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Prior to this he has taught at Oxford, Harvard, and in Chicago and has held fellowships and visiting appointments in Los Angeles, China and Sweden. He has a distinguished career as a teacher of and writer about Shakespeare’s plays and poems and won the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Prize while still an undergraduate at Oxford in 1981.

The Shakespeare Institute, based at Mason Croft in the centre of Stratford, was founded in 1951 and offers postgraduate students and scholars an academic experience set within walking distance of Shakespeare’s birthplace, school and grave. The working environment, set in the former home of novelist Marie Corelli, offers postgraduate programmes which cover every aspect of Shakespeare, from his early life in Stratford to international adaptations of his work.

Professor Dobson has been devoted not just to examining Shakespeare’s writings in their sixteenth and seventeenth century contexts, but to exploring how they have stimulated and enabled the creativity of other people, individually and collectively, across time. He has also worked extensively as a consultant to theatre directors and actors and takes an enthusiastic interest in most things done in Shakespeare’s name in different media around the world, with his pioneering book Shakespeare and amateur performance: a cultural history (Cambridge, 2011), seeking for the first time to acknowledge non-professional performance as a major factor in Shakespeare’s afterlife.

“The Shakespeare Institute is already the best place in the world to read for a postgraduate degree in Shakespeare studies,” he says; “I hope to make it also the most famous – as a thriving think-tank for the RSC, as an internationally prestigious and cosmopolitan research institute of the University of Birmingham, and as the best place on earth in which to explore the impact Shakespeare’s work has had across four centuries of world culture.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts and Law, Professor Michael Whitby, said of the appointment of Professor Michael Dobson:

This is an exciting time for the Shakespeare Institute. Over the past six years Professor Kate McLuskie as Director has re-energised the Institute, forging close links with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Birthplace Trust. Now in 2012 the University of Birmingham has made three distinguished professorial appointments in the general area of Shakespeare studies, with Michael Dobson joining Ewan Fernie and Claire Preston to raise the Institute's reputation even further. We look forward to their contributions over the coming years.”

Professor Michael Dobson will take up his new post as Director of the Institute and Professor of Shakespeare Studies in September.

Notes to Editors

The Shakespeare Institute is part of the University of Birmingham’s Department of English in the College of Arts and Law.

For media enquiries, please contact Amy Cory, University of Birmingham Press Office via 0121 414 6029 or a.cory@bham.ac.uk.