Heather Hirschfeld



Professor Hirschfeld is a scholar of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British literature who specializes in Shakespearean drama and the institutional and conceptual contexts in which it flourished. Her first book, Joint Enterprises (U Mass, 2004) examined the phenomenon of collaborative drama, 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 second book, The End of Satisfaction: Drama and Repentance in The Age of Shakespeare (Cornell, 2014) studies the drama in relation to Reformation religious change, particularly controversies over penitential practice and the ability of human beings to compensate – to satisfy, or make enough — for sin. The monograph explores the ways in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries understood and dramatized these controversies, turning them into plots that bear witness to their protagonists’ efforts, in Hamlet’s words, “to set things right.” This work was funded by an NEH Fellowship, an NEH Summer Stipend and a Folger Shakespeare Library Short-Term Fellowship.

Professor Hirschfeld’s current research project, “The Resources of Hell,” looks at the underworld as a literary device that facilitates otherwise impossible forms of thought and expression. She is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy, contracted in 2014 as part of a series under the general editorship of Arthur Kinney, and is also editing the second edition of the New Cambridge Shakespeare Hamlet. Professor Hirschfeld 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. She 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, the Department of English Graduate Teaching Award, and the Department of English John C. Hodges Award for Teaching Excellence.


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


Representative articles

  • The Revenger’s Tragedy: The Critical Backstory,” in The Revenger’s Tragedy: A Critical Reader, ed. Brian Walsh (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming fall 2016).
  • “Authors, Collaboration, and Attribution,” in Shakespeare and Textual Studies, ed. Mary Jane Kidnie and Sonia Massai (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), .
  • “Historicizing Satisfaction in Shakespeare’s Othello,” in Rethinking Historicism from Shakespeare to Milton, ed. Ann Baynes Coiro and Thomas Fulton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 113-29.
  • “Richard Brome and the Idea of a Caroline Theatre,” in Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, ed. Ton Hoenselaars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 226-43.
  • “Collaboration: Sustained Partnerships,” in 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,” in 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): 89-117.
  • “ ‘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,” in 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,” in 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,” in 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,” in Shakespearean International Yearbook 5, eds. 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
  • “Early Modern Collaboration and Theories of Authorship,” PMLA 116 (May 2001): 609-622
  • “Collaborating across Generations: Thomas Heywood, Richard Brome, and the Production of The Late Lancashire Witches,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30 (2000): 339-374
  • “ ‘Work upon that now’: The Production of Parody on the English Renaissance Stage,” Genre 32 (1999): 175-200.

Book reviews

  • The Face of Mammon: The Matter of Money in English Renaissance Literature, David Landreth. Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, 2015.
  • Staging Authority in Caroline England: Prerogative, Law and Order in Drama, 1625-1642, Jessica Dyson. Comparative Drama, 2015.
  • Middleton & Rowley: Forms of Collaboration in the Jacobean Playhouse, David Nicol. Early Theatre, 2014.
  • Medieval and Early Modern Authorship, ed. by Bolens and Erne. Renaissance Quarterly 65, 2012.
  • 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.