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Claire M. L.  Bourne

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Claire M. L. Bourne

Assistant Professor of English

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Office: 123 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • { SPRING 2021 }
  • MONDAYS • 10 a.m. to noon
  • WEDNESDAYS • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • and by appointment


  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, theater history, and textual editing.

¶ My first monograph, Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England, is out now from Oxford University Press. It is the first book-length study of early modern English playbook typography and tells a new history of drama from the period by considering the page designs of plays by Shakespeare and others printed between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century. It argues that typography, broadly conceived, was used creatively by printers, publishers, playwrights, and other agents of the book trade to make the effects of theatricality—from the most basic (textually articulating a change in speaker) to the more complex (registering the kinesis of bodies on stage)—intelligible on the page.

¶ 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 profoundly shaped the editing and study of Shakespeare. The book will approach 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.

¶ An essay I wrote on a copy of the Shakespeare 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 listen to our most recent findings here: My writing has been published 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.

¶ 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 (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