Dr Toria Johnson

Photograph of Dr Toria Johnson

Department of English Literature
Associate Professor in Early Modern Literature

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 135
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach across the late medieval, early modern, and Restoration periods. My research focuses on the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, early modern subjectivity, and the history of emotions.


  • BA in Philosophy and French Literature, Colgate University  (2006)
  • MA in English Literature, Washington State University (2009)
  • PhD in English, University of St Andrews (2013)


I came to Birmingham in 2016, and was previously a Teaching Fellow in Renaissance Literature at the University of St Andrews.


In 2017-2018, I teach on the following undergraduate modules: Shakespeare’s Sisters (co-convenor); Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies (convenor); Songs and Sonnets; and Shakespeare (Jacobean). I contribute lectures to all of these modules, as well as Plays and Performance. 



My areas of expertise include drama, early modern culture, the history of emotions, and the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. My monograph, Pity and Identity in the Age of Shakespeare (D.S. Brewer, 2021) interrogates the impact of the Reformation on early modern English emotional culture, with a specific focus on the role of pity and compassion in defining English understandings of subjectivity and ‘social’ emotion. I have contributed essays to Compassion in Early Modern Europe 1500-1700 (2021), and Shakespeare and Emotion (2020). In 2018 I was the co-editor (with Rachel E. Holmes, UCL) of a Special Issue of Forum for Modern Language Studies entitled ‘In Pursuit of Truth: Law and Emotion in Early Modern Europe’. 

In 2017, I was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in the History of Emotions 1100-1800 (University of Adelaide node).

Other activities

I co-convene the Postgraduate Doctoral Seminar for PhD students in EDACS at Birmingham, sit on the Extenuating Circumstances panel (EDACS), and I am the EDACS representative on the Bank of Educational Excellence project. I also co-organise the Stratford Residential. 


Recent publications


Johnson, T 2021, Pity and Identity in the Age of Shakespeare. Studies in Renaissance Literature, Boydell and Brewer. <https://boydellandbrewer.com/9781843845744/pity-and-identity-in-the-age-of-shakespeare/>


Johnson, T 2022, 'Caliban at the fair: figuring non-humanity in The Tempest and Bartholomew Fair', Renaissance Drama, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 51-72. https://doi.org/10.1086/719933

Johnson, T & Holmes , RE 2018, 'In Pursuit of Truth', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqx085

Johnson, T 2018, '‘The Sinewes of Truth’: Binding Law and Emotion in Thomas Tomkis’s Lingua', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 17-31. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqx080


Johnson, T 2021, 'To feel what wretches feel': reformation and the re-naming of English compassion. in K Steenbergh & K Ibbett (eds), Compassion in Early Modern Literature and Culture : Feeling and Practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 219-236. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108862172.018

Johnson, T 2020, 'Fear'. in K Craik (ed.), Shakespeare and Emotion . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 199-210.

Special issue

Johnson, T & Holmes , RE (eds) 2018, 'Forum for Modern Language Studies: Special Issue: In Pursuit of Truth: Law and Emotion in Early Modern Europe', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 54. <https://academic.oup.com/fmls/issue/54/1>

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