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Derek Dunne

Dr Derek Dunne


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 75144
John Percival Building, Room 1.12, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I joined Cardiff University in 2017 as a Lecturer in English Literature. Previous to this I have taught at Shakespeare’s Globe (London), Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). In 2018/19 I have been named one of the British Academy's Rising Stars, for my new podcast & summit on 'Survival Strategies for Humanities ECAs':

I am an early modernist by training and inclination, with a particular focus on the works of Shakespeare. My first monograph, Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy, and Early Modern Law: Vindictive Justice (Palgrave, 2016) examined revenge dramatists’ critique of early modern legal systems from a law and literature perspective.

Since then I have begun a new research project entitled “Rogues’ Licence: Counterfeiting Authority in early modern England”, with a focus on the relationship between literature and bureaucracy, discourses of authority, and the practice of forgery. This has been awarded fellowships by the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington DC), the Huntington (California), and the Newberry (Chicago).

I am happy to supervise PhDs in the following areas: early modern drama; rogue literature; Inns of Court culture; discourses of forgery; early modern bureaucracy; popular print v manuscript culture. Please contact me to discuss topics in these or related areas.




  • Dunne, D. 2019. Revenge tragedy: Hoffman. In: Cadman, D., Duxfield, A. and Hopkins, L. eds. The Genres of Renaissance Tragedy. Manchester University Press, pp. 132-147.








Book sections




My doctoral research was in the field of Law & Literature, with a particular focus on the genre of revenge tragedy. This led to the publication of my first monograph, Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy, and Early Modern Law: Vindictive Justice (Palgrave, 2016). Revenge tragedy’s common ancestry with law on both sides – through the subject matter of revenge, and through the medium of theatre – makes the genre an ideal testing ground for the staging of the law in early modern England.

I have written articles on topics including:

  • The forensics of the blush in early modern drama
  • The mathematics of revenge
  • Hamlet’s lack of engagement with legal culture
  • Editorial intervention in Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge

In my latest research I aim for a more interdisciplinary mode of research. I was drawn to the subject of forgery and bureaucracy through the so-called ‘cony-catching’ pamphlets, and this led me to examine the prominence of bureaucracy in the formation of early modern literature. My aim is to show that Shakespeare and his contemporaries were fully and on occasion painfully aware of the importance of the licence and related documentation, which then found its way into the process of composition itself. This brings together related subfields such as law and literature, manuscript studies, theatre history and literary criticism in new and productive configurations. My ongoing work in this area includes pieces on:

  • The first Shakespearean forgeries
  • Prison paperwork on the early modern stage
  • Forgery and authority in the cony-catching pamphlets
  • The Earl of Essex and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
  • Hands, Seals, and Documentary Authority in Sir Thomas More & Henry VIII

This work will result in a monograph on Shakespeare’s Licence: The Power of Paperwork in Early Modern Literature & Culture.

I have also written exploratory blogposts on my latest research, including:

- ‘“This Device is Licensed”: The Material and Immaterial Bureaucracy of Research’, for ‘The Materiality of Research’ series, LSE Review of Books

- ‘Sign Here Please: ________ Blank Forms from the Folger Collection’, for The Collation research blog, Folger Shakespeare Library

- ‘The Man with the Golden Pen’, for the Before Shakespeare project blog


I have devised and delivered a range of modules including:

  • ‘Experimental Early Modern Drama’
  • ‘Criminal Shakespeare’
  • ‘Theatre & Architecture’
  • Hamlet: Texts & Contexts’
  • ‘Shakespeare at the Globe’
  • ‘Shakespearean Childhoods’
  • 'Poetic Justice? Law & Literature in Shakespeare's England' (MA)
  • ‘Early modern Playhouse Practice’ (MA)
  • ‘Shakespeare’s Globe & Contemporary Culture’ (MA)

I also contribute teaching to ‘Star Cross’d Lovers: The Politics of Desire’


I completed my studies at Trinity College Dublin, plus a year at St. John’s College Cambridge for the MPhil in Renaissance Literature. Since finishing my PhD I have had numerous academic appointments, which include a teaching position within the Education department of Shakespeare’s Globe, a post-doc at the University of Fribourg, and a long-term research fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC.

I hold a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award for 2018/19, which provides resources towards building a podcast & summit focused on 'Survival Strategies for Humanities ECAs'. This will launch in November 2018 with a 2-day summit at Cardiff University, with a keynote address from Prof. Stefan Collini (Cambridge University).

I am one of the co-creators of the Shakespeare in Ireland website. I have organised panels and seminars on topics including ‘Women on Trial’ (with Penelope Geng, RSA 2016), ‘Shakespeare & Counterfeiting’ (with Harry Newman, SAA 2017), and ‘Authors & Bureaucracy’ (with Julianne Werlin, RSA 2018).

Honours and awards

2018                    Research Fellowship at the Huntington Library, California

2017                    Library Fellowship at University of Durham IMEMS centre

2016 – 2017        Mowat Mellon long-term fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library

Committees and reviewing

I am frequently called on to give theatre and book reviews, which have appeared in publications including Renaissance Studies, Around the Globe, Early Theatre, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America and Cahiers Élisabéthains. I also coordinate reviews for the Shakespeare in Ireland website.

External profiles