Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home People Claire M. L. Bourne
Claire M. L.  Bourne

Follow Me:


Claire M. L. Bourne

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 123 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • { SPRING 2020 }
  • M 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
  • W 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


  1. PhD, English, University of Pennsylvania (2013)
  2. MSt, English Literature (1550-1780), University of Oxford (2006)
  3. BA, English & French, Middlebury College (2004)

Professional Bio

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on Shakespeare, early modern drama, the history of the book, and theater history. ¶ My first monograph, Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England, is forthcoming in April 2020 with Oxford University Press. The book studies typographic experimentation and convention in plays printed between the early sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries. In chapters about special characters (¶, ☞, ❧, &c), punctuation (—, [ ], ✻, &c), scene division, and illustration, I focus on the difficulties and creativity involved in remediating modes of “theatricality” into readable matter and argue for the vitality of mise-en-page to our understanding of how plays by Marlowe, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Shakespeare, Dryden, and others were performed and read in the period. The book is an extension of my dissertation, which was awarded the J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize in 2013 by the Shakespeare Association of America. I have received support for this project from the Folger Shakespeare Library (long-term fellowship, 2014-15), the Bibliographical Society of America (Katharine Pantzer Fellowship in the British Book Trades, 2015-16), VCU's Humanities Research Center (Residential Faculty Fellowship, Spring 2016), and the Huntington Library (Francis Bacon Foundation Short-Term Fellowship, 2016-17). ¶ My next book project, tentatively entitled Accidental Shakespeare, investigates how the New Bibliographic orthodoxy of distinguishing “substantive” features of early printed plays (words) from “accidental” features (punctuation, spelling, and anything else affecting the “formal presentation” of the text) has shaped the editing and study of Shakespeare. It approaches the fact and concept of textual “accident” in a variety of pre-modern and modern contexts to show that conceptions of “Shakespeare” have always been contingent on the uses of and attitudes towards “accidents” (both errors and typographic features) in the printed texts of his plays. I took up a residential faculty fellowship at Penn State's Center for Humanities & Information (CHI)—as well as fellowships at the Harry Ransom Center and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library—during AY 2018-19 to pursue work on this project. ¶ My writing has been published or is forthcoming in English Literary Renaissance, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Shakespeare Bulletin, Shakespeare, and edited collections on Christopher Marlowe at the intersection of print and performance; Shakespeare in print after 1642; early modern theatrical documents; and the anatomy of the book. An essay I wrote on a copy of the First Folio housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia for Early Modern English Marginalia, ed. Katherine Acheson (Routledge 2018) inspired Jason Scott-Warren’s recent discovery that this book was once owned and annotated by John Milton. You can find a digest of media coverage related to this story here, and you can listen to us discuss the book, Milton’s use of it, and the value of collaborative scholarship here. ¶ I also edit early modern plays. I have just begun editing 1 Henry the Sixth for the Arden Shakespeare (4th series) and have just finished an edition of Fletcher and Massinger’s The Sea Voyage for the new Routledge Anthology of Early Modern Drama (forthcoming 2020). I am also the general editor of The Digital Beaumont & Fletcher (1647), a collaboration between the Penn State English Department and Penn State Libraries that seeks to publish student-generated, open-access editions of plays published in Comedies & Tragedies (1647), otherwise known as the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio. The project uses PSU Libraries’ copy of this book as its base text.

Areas of Specialization

Book History and Textual Studies
with particular interest in early modern drama; Shakespeare; book history; bibliography; typography; theater history; performance studies
Renaissance Literature
with particular interest in early modern drama; Shakespeare; book history; bibliography; typography; theater history; performance studies