Claude Fretz

Claude Fretz

Shakespeare Institute

Contact details

PhD title: Remaking Genre: Dreams and Sleep in Shakespeare's Comedies and Tragedies (c.1591-1606)
PhD Shakespeare Studies


  • BA English (First-class honours) (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • MA English: Shakespeare in History (Distinction) (University College London)
  • PhD English/Shakespeare Studies (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham)


I teach widely across medieval, early modern, and Victorian literature, and I have also taught eighteenth-century poetry and literary theory.

  • 2013-14: Literary Aesthetics before 1800; Critical Practice
  • 2014-15: Shakespeare's Comedies
  • 2015-16: Songs and Sonnets: English Poetry from Chaucer to Donne; Prose


My current research explores the functions of dreams and sleep within Shakespeare's wider design of comedy and tragedy. Drawing on the different and evolving physiological as well as religious understandings of dreams and sleep from the classical period up until the Renaissance, I look at the extent to which Shakespeare’s dramatic uses of dreams and sleep help him reshape the classical conventions of comedy and tragedy. This study offers a new understanding of Shakespeare’s dramaturgy and also enables us to move beyond the legacy of psychoanalytic theory by appreciating classical and early modern dreams as something other than expressions of the subconscious.

My research is fully funded by the College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham.

I also retain an interest in questions of dramatic genre; in Shakespeare's classical, medieval, and European influences/connections; in appropriations of Shakespeare; and in the history of ideas, especially with interdisciplinary and/or comparative perspectives.

I have spoken about my research at conferences of international standing, both in the UK and abroad, including the British Shakespeare Association Conference, the Tudor Symposium, and interdisciplinary conferences in Bristol, Paris, and Cyprus. I have also spoken at research seminars, graduate conferences, and at the RSC summer school.


  • ‘Postcolonial Appropriations and their Quarrels: Shakespeare’s Tempest and Conrad’s Victory’, Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language, V (2013), 28-36.
  • ‘“Off, off you lendings”: The Exposure of Social and Generic Artifice in Shakespeare’, Paper Shell Review, II (2012), 43-71.