Five College Associate Professor of English
Jane is currently working on a new book on the relationship between early modern maritime ventures and the concept of fortune. Entitled Fortune’s Empire: Chance, Providence, and Overseas Exploration in Early Modern English Drama, this study considers how England’s nascent engagement in global commerce and exploration heightened awareness of the role of fortune in the world: as a cosmic force of chance and as an emerging understanding of wealth that was earned rather than inherited. Drawing attention to an archive of plays dramatizing maritime travel, trade, and exploration, the book shows how the theater played a vital role in shaping and critiquing these evolving understandings of fortune and cultivating proper ethical responses to new forms of economic investment.
Jane’s first book, Islamic Conversion and Christian Resistance on the Early Modern Stage (2010), explores Christian-Muslim encounter in twelve plays written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Focusing on the stage’s treatment of religious conversion as a sexual seduction, it demonstrates how “turning” to Islam was imagined to have physical and reproductive consequences, as well as to endanger Christian souls. Jane has published articles on topics such as the chinaware trade, shifting values of gold, imperial world history, virgin martyrdom, tragicomic drama, and Shakespeare’s foreign settings.
More broadly, Jane’s interest in the dramatic staging of religious phenomena informs her teaching, including a seminar on “Religion, Magic, and the Shakespearan Stage.” Her explorations of the relationship between popular performance and religious culture have also led to a collection of essays, coedited with Elizabeth Williamson, titled Religion and Drama in Early Modern England: The Performance of Religion on the Renaissance Stage (2011).
This course explores different forms of personal and communal trauma, and the ways that writing offers a means to redemption. By analyzing a range of novels, poetry, memoirs, and films, we will consider the different ways that trauma has been turned into narrative and how narrative in turn seeks to transform trauma into something else. Primary texts will focus heavily on ethnic American literature. The forms of trauma we will discuss range from personal and sexual violence, to large-scale communal and cultural violence. This course will take the form of a discussion-based seminar and interactive workshop. Students will engage in expository, creative, and analytical modes of writing. You must be open to sharing your writing with the class. Writing prompts will be offered, but in many cases you will have the freedom to choose your topic and mode of expression.
What forms did intimacy take on the Shakespearean stage, and how was it shaped by new understandings of global distance, as well as by the material and social conditions of the live theater? This course offers in-depth explorations of a wide range of Shakespeare's plays with special consideration of new forms of intimacy between lovers, spouses, friends, family members, adversaries, and strangers. In particular, we will consider how new scales and experiences of space and time transformed interpersonal relationships. For example, how did global travel, trade, and colonialism affect understandings of difference, sameness, and intimacy? How did Shakespeare's plays imagine new possibilities for intimate forms of violence, empathy, and understanding? We will address these questions through close readings of the plays, supplemented by considerations of social, economic, and scientific history. Likely readings include Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Two Noble Kinsmen, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, and Cymbeline.