Heather Hirschfeld



Professor Hirschfeld’s first book, Joint Enterprises, examines the phenomenon of the shared writing of playscripts by early modern English dramatists such as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, George Chapman, John Marston, John Fletcher, Francis Beaumont, Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, Thomas Heywood, and Richard Brome. Her current book manuscript, “The End of Satisfaction: Drama and Repentance in Early Modern England,” studies Reformation controversies over penitential practice and the ability of human beings to compensate – tosatisfy, or make enough — for sin. The project explores the unique ways in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries such as Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton and John Ford understood and dramatized these controversies, turning them into tragic plots that bear witness to their protagonists’ efforts, in Hamlet’s words, “to set things right.” This work has been funded by an NEH Fellowship (2009-2010), an NEH Summer Stipend (2007) and a Folger Shakespeare Library Short-Term Fellowship (Spring 2005). Professor Hirschfeld also received the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Research/Creative Achievement Award in 2004.

Professor Hirschfeld teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Shakespeare, the material cultures of the Renaissance theater, and early modern literature and has additional teaching interests in literature and psychoanalysis. She has been honored to be the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Teaching Award in 2007, the Department of English Graduate Teaching Award in 2007, and the Department of English John C. Hodges Award for Teaching Excellence in 2002.

Professor Hirschfeld is currently the Riggsby Director of the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.


B.A., Princeton University
Ph.D., Duke University


Representative articles

  • “Collaboration: Sustained Partnerships.” Thomas Middleton in Context. Ed. Suzanne Gossett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 219-228.
  • The Revenger’s Tragedy: Original Sin and the Allures of Vengeance.” The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy. Eds. Emma Smith and Garrett Sullivan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 200-210.
  • “And he hath enough”: The Penitential Economies of The Merchant of Venice.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 40 (2010):
  • “ ‘Am I in France?’: King Lear and Source,” Notes & Queries 56 (2009): 588-591.
  • “ ‘Conceived of young Horatio his son’: The Spanish Tragedy and the Psychotheology of Revenge.” The Blackwell Companion to Tudor Drama. Ed. Kent Cartwright. New York: Blackwell, 2009. 444-458.
  •  “ ‘For the author’s credit’: Issues of Authorship in English Renaissance Drama.” The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre. Ed. Richard Dutton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 441-456.
  • “ ‘The verie paines of hell’: Doctor Faustus and the Controversy over Christ’s Descent,”Shakespeare Studies  36 (2008): 166-181.
  • “Confessing Mothers: The Maternal Penitent in Early Modern Revenge Tragedy.” The Impact of Feminism in English Renaissance Studies. Ed. Dympna Callaghan. (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007). 53-66.
  • “ ‘We all expect a gentle answer, Jew’: The Merchant of Venice and the Psychotheology of Conversion.” ELH 73 (2006): 61-81.
  • “Compulsions of the Renaissance.” Shakespeare Studies 23 (2005): 109-114.
  • “Psychoanalysis and Its Contemporary Engagements.” Shakespearean International Yearbook 5. Ed. Graham Holderness and Tom Bishop (Ashgate, 2005).
  • “Hamlet’s ‘first corse’: Trauma, Revenge, and the Displacement of Redemptive Typology,”Shakespeare Quarterly (Winter 2003): 424-448
  • “What Do Women Know?: The Roaring Girl and the Wisdom of Tiresias,” Renaissance Drama 32 (2003): 123-146
  • “Marvell and the Temporality of Paranoia,” Renaissance Papers 2002: 17-26
  • “Early Modern Collaboration and Theories of Authorship,” PMLA 116 (May 2001): 609-622
  • “Collaborating across Generations: Thomas Heywood, Richard Brome, and the Production ofThe Late Lancashire Witches,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30 (2000): 339-374
  • “Collaborative Pedagogy: An Experiment in Team-Teaching Shakespeare,” Renaissance Papers 1997: 75-86
  • “ ‘Work upon that now’: The Production of Parody on the English Renaissance Stage,” Genre32 (1999): 175-200.

Book reviews

  • Narcissism and Suicide in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, by Eric Langley.Shakespeare Quarterly,2011.
  • Blood Relations: Christian and Jew in The Merchant of Venice, by Janet Adelman.Shakespeare Studies, 2011.
  • Thomas Middleton: An Anthology and Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Print Culture, ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino. Theatre Survey, 2010.
  • Unto the Breach: Martial Formations, Historical Trauma, and the Early Modern Stage, by Patricia Cahill. Shakespeare Quarterly, 2010.
  • Revenge Tragedy and the Drama of Commemoration in Reforming England, by Thomas Rist.Renaissance Quarterly, 2008.
  • The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare’s Theatre, by Susan Zimmerman. Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 2007.
  • A Dictionary of Stage Directions, by Alan Dessen and Leslie Thomson, Shakespeare Quarterly, 2003.
  • Shakespeare and the Poets’ War, by James Bednarz. Shakespeare Studies, 2003.
  • Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory, by Peter Stallybrass and Ann Rosalind Jones. Albion, 2002
  • Seizures of the Will in Early Modern Drama, by Frank Whigham. Comparative Drama, 1999.