Dr Chris Laoutaris MA, PhD (University College London), BAPDF (British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2007-2010)

 

Dr Chris Laoutaris

Shakespeare Institute
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

Address
The Shakespeare Institute
Mason Croft
Church Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 6HP
The Shakespeare Institute
Mason Croft
Church Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 6HP
UK

I am a Shakespeare scholar, biographer, and historian whose specialisms include the history of Shakespeare’s theatres, women’s history, Renaissance politics, the early modern body and medicine, and the history of death, burial and commemoration. I recently signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins’ oldest imprint, William Collins, and a two-book deal with Pegasus publishers in New York for my next two works. One of these forthcoming books is a project on Shakespeare’s First Folio for which I was awarded a Birmingham Fellowship. My most recent book is Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin), which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize for Biography, was a Book of the Year for both the Telegraph and Observer, and one of the New York Post’s ‘Must-Read Books’. I have written for the Financial Times, Sunday Express, Times Higher Education Supplement, BBC History Magazine, BBC Shakespeare Lives, and reviewed for various academic publishers and journals. My recent media work includes BBC Radio London, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Newstalk Radio Dublin, Cyprus television, BBC Midlands, BBC Shakespeare Festival, and BBC1’s The One Show. In addition, I have provided consultation to the Weinstein Company for their much-anticipated sequel to the award-winning film Shakespeare in Love.

I am represented by Julian Alexander at Lucas Alexander Whitley Ltd Literary Agents (London) and Inkwell Literary Agents (New York). See: http://www.lawagency.co.uk/writer/chris-laoutaris

Qualifications

  • Awarded a Birmingham Fellowship for a project on Shakespeare’s First Folio (The Shakespeare Institute) 
  • Awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the research and writing of Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (University College London)
  • PhD, ‘Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England’. Awarded full funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (University College London)
  • MA English: Renaissance to Enlightenment, graduating with year’s highest Distinction. Awarded full funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (University College London)
  • BA English, graduating as year’s Morley Medallist with the highest First Class Honours (University College London)

Biography

I pursued all my degrees at University College London where I was awarded the Morley Medal in English, the Ker Memorial Prize in English, and accorded a place on the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement. Shortly afterwards I was shortlisted for the Eric Gregory Poetry Awards and awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe, which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize for Biography (sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch).

My first book was entitled Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England (Edinburgh), and I have been a contributor to two of Ashgate Press’s Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama series of books, as well as author of a survey of activist female translators and historical writers for Palgrave Macmillan’s History of British Women’s Writing: 1500-1610, which won the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Collaborative Project Award and was called ‘a landmark volume’. I am also contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s First Folio, edited by Emma Smith, among other academic publications.

While at University College London I was a Renaissance Literature and Shakespeare Course Convenor, served as a member of the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges Steering Committee and was a member of both the UCL Board of Studies and Board of Examiners. Following that I moved to the Shakespeare Institute, initially as a Birmingham Fellow, to pursue a project on Shakespeare’s First Folio (forthcoming from HarperCollins: William Collins). HarperCollins secured the rights for my next two books in competition with several other major commercial publishers.

Teaching

My teaching at University College London covered a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses spanning Chaucer to the present day, including Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature, Narrative Texts, the History of Criticism, and Intellectual and Cultural Sources. I also taught a demanding Shakespeare course at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since coming to the Shakespeare Institute I have convened and taught the Shakespeare’s Theatre MA core module (as both on-site and distance learning courses) and undergraduate modules on Shakespeare’s Comedies and Shakespeare’s Bodies on the Edge (which is a new third-year sign-up module of my own design). As well as Shakespeare my teaching experience in the early modern period includes revenge tragedies (Thomas Kyd and Thomas Middleton); city comedies (Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton); Elizabethan prose fiction (John Lyly and Thomas Nashe); metaphysical poetry (John Donne); Marlowe’s plays; Milton’s poetry and political writings; and a full module on Ben Jonson, covering a selection of plays, court masques, the poetry, and the Discoveries.

I particularly enjoy teaching in interactive learning environments, having previously collaborated with the UCL Art Museum on a series of seminars called ‘Shakespeare in Art’, curating my own exhibition of Shakespeare-inspired prints and etchings. I also converted the museum into an ‘anatomy theatre’, showcasing large dissection plates and anatomical sculptures, for a graduate session on ‘Anatomy in Shakespeare’. In addition to this, I organised a tour of the Warburg Institute’s collections for MA Shakespeare students, and taught a session on ‘Cultures of Collecting’ in the inspirational setting of the Grant Museum of Zoology, London, surrounded by natural-historical specimens and fossils. At the Shakespeare Institute and University of Birmingham I have organised workshops with RSC and independent actors/directors for the Shakespeare’s Theatre MA core module, as well as workshops on the actor’s body and using archives on Shakespeare and the early modern body at the Cadbury Research Library. 

Postgraduate supervision

I am currently supervising or co-supervising subjects as diverse as Shakespeare’s military spouses; Shakespeare in applied theatre settings; Shakespeare and the body; and the menopausal female body in Shakespeare. I have also been involved in the supervision of doctoral students in the following areas: infanticide in Early Modern England; elite female self-starvers in Renaissance England; and Shakespeare and Domestic Tragedy. I would be interested in hearing from prospective doctoral students working in any areas covering my main research interests (see ‘Research’ section below).

Research

Particular areas of interest include the history of the Blackfriars and Globe theatres; Renaissance anatomy and dissection; witchcraft, ritual and superstition in early modern England; Renaissance satiric utterance; early modern natural-historical enquiry; cultures of melancholy; the literature and material culture of wonder and curiosity; early modern figurations of monstrosity; funerary monuments and the Renaissance death-ritual; connections between Renaissance portraiture and literature; the uses of emblems in dramatic literature; early modern robotics, artificial life and post-humanism; the literary and political uses of Tacitism; the circle of the Earl of Essex; Renaissance politics; Puritanism; maternity, women’s history and indomitable female figures of the Renaissance.

I particularly enjoy interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, combining techniques used in art-historical, archaeological, biographical, and medical forms of historical enquiry. My interest in England’s heritage and my methodological approach has involved me in direct on-site research at archaeological sites, castles, stately homes, museums, churches and cathedrals, grottoes and follies, auction-houses, private collections, galleries, English cultural heritage sites and other historic buildings.

I firmly believe that sound research grounded in palaeographical experience and training in the archives is a crucial means of learning about Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The cornerstone of all my publications/projects has always been contact with original manuscript and source material, and I have extensive experience of working with state papers, letters, diaries, wills, property deeds, heraldic documents, funerary itineraries, receipt books, medical treatises, epitaphic inscriptions, anatomical fugitive sheets, legal texts, privy council acts, and trial documents.

Other activities

My recent media work includes BBC1’s The One Show, Rik Television Cyprus, BBC Midlands, Notimex (Mexico’s largest media network), History News Network USA, and a British Council Shakespeare documentary (interviewed by Ben Crystal as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival), as well as radio interviews for BBC Radio London, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National, and Newstalk Radio, Dublin. I have written for numerous newspapers and magazines (see introductory section above) and my work has been reviewed in many major media and press outlets, including The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, London Review of Books, Literary Review, New Statesman, Herald, Big Issue, Washington Post, New York Times, and New York Post, among many others. I regularly present my research at public events, conferences and institutions, including conferences for the Shakespeare Association of America, Renaissance Society of America, Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, and others. Recent public lectures include those given at the Royal Shakespeare Company; Victoria and Albert Museum; Hay Festival; Hillingdon Literary Festival; Royal Collection (National Portrait Gallery of Scotland and Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh); the Biographers’ Club; University of Oxford; Bisham Abbey; London Jewish Cultural Centre; Polish Hearth Club; and the Severis Foundation, Cyprus.

Many of my recent media appearances related to new discoveries presented in my book Shakespeare and the Countess, which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize (Biography), was Observer Book of the Year, a Telegraph Book of the Year, Telegraph Book of the Week, Marylebone Journal Book of the Week, one of the New York Post’s ‘Must-Read Books’, one of the Daily Telegraph’s top ten history holiday reads, Living Literature Society Book of the Month, one of Broadway Direct USA’s ‘Bookfilter’s Best of Summer Picks’, and Bookseller’s no. 8 in the top ten most reviewed books for season of its release. I am currently in discussions with various producers about the prospect of optioning Shakespeare and the Countess for film. 

Publications

Books

  • Two books contracted to HarperCollins’ William Collins imprint (UK and Commonwealth) and Pegasus Publishers (USA), one of which includes a book on Shakespeare’s First Folio (Birmingham Fellowship Project, currently in progress).
  • Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin: Fig Tree, 2014; Penguin paperback 2015; US hardback edition with Pegasus 2015 and paperback edition 2016).
  • Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England (Edinburgh University Press, 2008).

Chapters in books and journal articles

  • ‘Was Shakespeare a Cyborg?: Automata, Alchemy and Artificial Blood’ (article in progress, intended for Shakespeare Quarterly).
  • ‘“Virtutis Amore”: A New Identity for Hilliard’s Lady in State’ (journal article in progress, British Art Journal).
  • Co-authored with Yasmin Arshad (UCL), ‘“Still renewing wronges”?: The Persian Lady Revealed’ (forthcoming in the British Art Journal).
  • Co-authored with Yasmin Arshad (UCL), ‘Gheeraerts and the Essex Circle’ (forthcoming, intended for Emblematica).
  • ‘The Prefatorial Material [to the First Folio]’, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s First Folio, ed. Emma Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 48-67.
  • ‘“Toucht with Bolt of Treason”: The Earl of Essex and Lady Penelope Rich’, Essex: The Cultural Impact of an Elizabethan Courtier, eds. Annaliese Connolly and Lisa Hopkins (Manchester University Press, 2013).
  • ‘The Radical Pedagogies of Lady Elizabeth Russell’, Performing Pedagogy: Gender and Instruction in Early Modern England, eds. Kathryn M. Moncrief and Kathryn R. McPherson (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 65-86.
  • ‘Translation/Historical Writing’, The History of British Women’s Writing: 1500-1610 (volume 2), eds. Caroline Bicks and Jennifer Summit, pp. 296-327, part of the 10-volume series The History of British Women’s Writing, general editors Cora Kaplan and Jennie Batchelor (Palgrave, Macmillan, 2010).Winner of the 2011 Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Collaborative Project Award.
  • ‘Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra’, Performing Maternity in Early Modern England, eds. Kathryn M. Moncrief and Kathryn R. McPherson (Ashgate, 2007), pp. 143-69.

Selected articles in special collections, newspapers, magazines, reviews and online forums:

Expertise

Shakespeare – his works, his life, and his local communities; history of the Globe and Blackfriars theatres; Elizabethan and Jacobean espionage, intrigue and politics; women’s history and early modern female writers; strong and feisty Renaissance women; the Renaissance death ritual; early modern superstition, ritual and the archaeology of witchcraft; the English witch-hunts; history of anatomy and dissection; history of maternity and childbirth; cultures of wonder and curiosity in early modern Europe; early modern robotics and automata; Renaissance material culture and allegorical portraiture.

Media experience

Dr Chris Laoutaris’ media appearances include BBC1’s The One Show; BBC Radio London; the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National; and Newstalk Radio Dublin. He has also written for the Financial Times and Sunday Express. His most recent publication, Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin) was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize, and was one of the Observer’s ‘Books of the Year’, one of the Telegraph’s ‘Best Books of 2014’, a Sunday Telegraph ‘Book of the Week’, and one of the Daily Telegraph’s Top 10 History Books ‘to take away’ on holiday. Recent special events include lectures for the Victoria and Albert Museum (450th Anniversary Shakespeare Festival); the Royal Shakespeare Company; Historic Royal Palaces (the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse), in association with the National Gallery of Scotland; and the Biographers’ Club.