Mary Odbert

Mary Odbert

Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Corporeal Selfhood: Body-based identity in Shakespearean text and performance 
Supervisor: Dr Erin Sullivan and Dr Chris Laoutaris
PhD Shakespeare Studies


My project analyzes the role of the body in Shakespearean text, performance, and discourse in an effort to establish a more cohesive theory of selfhood via the conscientious involvement of the corporeal. I use close readings of Shakespearean text and Vesalian anatomy to illuminate the crucial crossroads of medical science and literary humanities. Through performance analysis, I question and explore the ways in which the physical body participates in the characterization process. I’m constructing a means of reading the body as the site of adaptation without undermining the actor’s agency as a kind of embodying vessel for the incorporeal concept of the textual character. I also take Shakespeare’s own corporeality into account as I interrogate the implications of the ongoing quest to understand the playwright himself via physical evidence of his existence. In terms of present-day application, my work delves into the collective body of the audience to apply these notions of corporeal selfhood to viscerally manifested emotive responses like laughter and weeping to explore their potentially therapeutic effects on the individual spectator’s body. Overall, my work explores what it is to be a Shakespearean body for the character, actor, writer, and spectator.