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Claire M. L.  Bourne

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Claire M. L. Bourne

Assistant Professor of English

Office: 123 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Office Hours:

  • { FALL 2019 }
  • Tu 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
  • Th 9:30 to 11:30 a.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 joined the English Department at Pennsylvania State University in Fall 2016 to teach early modern literature, Shakespeare, and the history of the book.

My first monograph entitled Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. This 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 performance 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, published, 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), Virginia Commonwealth University's Humanities Research Center (residential fellowship, Spring 2016), and the Huntington Library (Francis Bacon Foundation Short-Term Fellowship, 2016-17).

My second book project, tentatively entitled Accidental Shakespeare, asks what kind of information the early texts of Shakespeare’s plays preserve and transmit. The New Bibliographic orthodoxy of distinguishing “substantive” features of early editions (words) from “accidental” features (punctuation, spelling, and anything else affecting the “formal presentation” of the text) has long shaped the editing, teaching, and study of Shakespeare. By examining the fact and concept of textual “accident” in a variety of pre-modern and modern contexts, this project aims to show that notions of “Shakespeare” have always been contingent on the unintentional and extra-lexical attributes of his plays in print. During the 2018-19, I will take up fellowships at Penn State's Center for Humanities and Information, the Harry Ransom Center (UT-Austin), and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Yale) to pursue research for this project.

My work has been published or is forthcoming in English Literary RenaissancePapers of the Bibliographic Society of AmericaShakespeare Bulletin, Shakespeare, SHARPNews, and edited collections on Christopher Marlowe at the intersection of print and performance; Shakespeare in print after 1642; and early modern marginalia. I am also editing Fletcher and Massinger's The Sea Voyage for a new Routledge anthology of Renaissance drama as well as 1 Henry the Sixth for the Arden Shakespeare, Fourth Series.

I have taught courses on William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, drama on page and stage, adaptation, and the histories and practices of reading. My pedagogy is deeply informed by the methods of book history, and as such, my courses tend to integrate materials and expertise from the university's Eberly Family Special Collections Library. I am currently collaborating with John Russell and Heather Froehlich of PSU Libraries on The Digital Beaumont and Fletcher (1647), an open-access, student generated edition of the library's copy of Comedies and Tragedies (a collection of plays published under the names of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in 1647).

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