Shakespeare and the emotions

This long-term research project, led by Dr Erin Sullivan, explores the way emotion is represented in Shakespearean drama and in turn how it is kindled by it. 

Beyond Melancholy

Major publications so far include Dr Sullivan’s Beyond Melancholy: Sadness and Selfhood in Renaissance England (Oxford University Press, 2016) and her co-edited volume with Dr Richard Meek, The Renaissance of Emotion: Understanding Affect in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Manchester University Press, 2015). In 2013, Dr Sullivan published an overview of the history of emotion that can be accessed here. That year she also held a five-week Universitas 21 fellowship at the University of Queenland’s node of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

More recently, Dr Sullivan has collaborated with academics in other arts disciplines to explore the crucial importance of works of art to the history of emotions. In 2017, she gave a keynote lecture on this subject at the International Society for Cultural History’s annual conference, which was later published as an article in the journal Emotions: History, Culture, Society and eventually won the Philippa Maddern Prize for its contributions to the field. As part of the same conference, Dr Sullivan organised a series of panels on emotion and the arts with Dr Marie Louise Herzfeld-Schild, a musicologist at the University of Cologne. This collaboration led to a special issue in 2018 on ‘Emotion, History, and the Arts’ for the journal Cultural History

Current work includes an essay on sensation and emotion in twenty-first-century performances of Shakespeare, an essay on grief in Hamlet, and, eventually, a book on ‘Shakespeare and the making of emotion’.