Professor Cathy Shrank

Professor of Tudor & Renaissance Literature


Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA


My research focuses on early modern (or Renaissance) literature and culture. My interest in this area dates back to my undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge. I stayed on at Cambridge to do an MPhil in Renaissance Literature.

During that time, I discovered a particular enthusiasm for Tudor writing, which I then developed during my PhD on sixteenth-century humanism and national identity. My work ranges from the late fifteenth to the late seventeenth century, and moves between poetry, prose, and drama, and between texts in manuscript and print.

I moved to Sheffield in 2005, after stints at King’s College London and the University of Aberdeen.


My publications are mainly on sixteenth and early seventeenth-century literature. In 2004 I published Writing the Nation in Reformation England, 1530-1580 (Oxford University Press). This book offers a re-evaluation of a neglected, but important, period of English writing, during which English national identity was hotly contested. The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature, 1485-1603, co-edited with Mike Pincombe, was published in 2009 by Oxford University Press (paperback 2011).

This is the first major collection of essays to look at the literature of the entire Tudor period, from the accession of Henry VII to the death of Elizabeth I, and its 45 chapters pay especial attention to the decades before 1580; it was awarded the Sixteenth Century Society's Ronald H. Bainton Prize in 2010.

I have also published on Shakespeare, including editing Coriolanus for the third edition of the Norton Shakespeare (2015). Other editorial projects include Shakespeare's Poems, co-edited with Raphael Lyne (Routledge, 2018), and Philip Massinger's City Madam (Globe Quartos, 2005; republished 2010 to accompany the production of the play by the Royal Shakespeare Company).

From 2005-2008, I was primary investigator for the `The origins of early modern literature: recovering mid-Tudor writing for a modern audience´, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Besides the Tudor Handbook, this project produced an on-line annotated catalogue of literary texts, printed in English 1519-1579. See: The Origins of Early Modern Literature

Current research includes finishing a monograph on dialogue from the late medieval period to the Exclusion Crisis (generously funded by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship 2015-18). I am also one of the General Editors of the AHRC-funded Oxford Works of Thomas Nashe and am editing William Tyndale’s Parable of the Wicked Mammon for the NEH-funded Independent Works of William Tyndale.

In short, I have a wide range of research interests across the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, stretching from the most canonical early modern writers (Shakespeare!) to obscure figures and neglected texts (one of my current favourites is Thomas Lodge’s 1591 adaptation of the legend of ‘Robert the Devil’).


My teaching at undergraduate and Masters level mainly focuses on the period 1600-1800. 


I welcome applications from potential research students in any area of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature and culture.

Current and former PhDs include projects on Post-War Polish productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream; representations of Thomas Wolsey from Skelton to Shakespeare; Tudor women writers; a comparative study of the influence of Galen in England and Italy; and editions of a number of important early manuscripts (Burley; V&A Dyce MS 44; BL Harleian MS 7392(2); BL Additional MS 36529).


  • Writing the Nation in Reformation England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); published in paperback 2006. Winner of an Outstanding Academic Title 2005 (ChoiceReviews).
Collections of essays
  • A special of the journal Huntington Library Quarterly on ‘Early Modern Manuscript Identities’, co-edited with Alan Bryson (2017), volume 80.2
  • The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature (with Mike Pincombe) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).  Winner of a Ronald H. Bainton Prize (2010).
  • A special edition of the journal Shakespeare, co-edited with Raphael Lyne, to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2009), volume 5.3
Editorial work
  • William Shakespeare, The Complete Poems, ed. with Raphael Lyne (Routledge, 2018)
  • William Shakespeare, Coriolanus in Stephen Greenblatt et al. (eds), Norton Shakespeare, 3rd edn (New York: W.W. Norton, 2015)
  • Philip Massinger, The City Madam (London: Nick Hern Books, 2005; reissued 2010).
Articles, essays, chapters, etc
  • ‘Masters of civility: Castiglione’s Courtier, Della Casa’s Galateo and Guazzo’s Civil Conversation in early modern England’, in Michele Marrapodi (ed.), The Routledge Research Companion to Anglo-Italian Renaissance Literature and Culture (London: Routledge, 2019), ch. 6
  • ‘Answer Poetry and other Verse “Conversations”’, in Catherine Bates (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Renaissance Poetry (Blackwells, 2018), 376-88
  • ‘Crafting the Nation’, in Keith Wrightson (ed.), The Cambridge Social History of England, vol. 1, 1500-1750 (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 17-38
  • ‘Mocking or mirthful? Laughter in early modern dialogue’, in Mark Knights and Adam Morton (eds), Laughter and Satire in Early Modern Britain (D.S. Brewer, 2017), 48-66
  • ‘Promising eternity in the 1609 Quarto’, in Hannah Crawforth and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (eds), Sonnets: State of Play (Arden, 2017), 13-31
  • ‘Cross Sections (I): 1516-1520‘’, in Thomas Keymer (ed.), The Oxford History of the Novel in English, vol. 1 (Oxford University Press), 46-54
  • ‘On Error’, in Claire Loffman and Harriet Phillips (eds), A Handbook of Editing Early Modern Texts (Routledge, 2017), 139-46
  • ‘Disséquer le corps politique: la Couronne et le Parlement dans les dialogues politiques anglais du début du XVIIe siècle’, in Marie Bouhaïk-Gironès et al. (eds), Usages et stratégies polémiques en Europe, XIVe-premier XVIIe siècle (Peter Lang, 2016), 155-66
  • ‘“Hoysted high vpon the rolling wheele”: Elianor Cobham’s Lament’, in Harriet Archer and Andrew Hadfield (eds), A Mirror for Magistrates in Context: Literature, History and Politics in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 109-25
  • ‘Finding a vernacular voice: The classical translations of Sir Thomas Wyatt (c. 1503-1542)’, in The Oxford History of Classical Reception, Vol 1, ed. Rita Copeland (Oxford University Press, 2016), 583-600
  • ‘Commonweal poetry’, in Andrew Escobedo (ed.), Edmund Spenser in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 176-84
  • ‘His sister’s family: the Harts’, in Paul Edmonson (ed.), The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2015), 49-56
  • ‘Mise-en-page, “the Authors Genius”, “the capacity of the Reader”, and the ambition of ‘a Good Compositer’, in Caroline Archer and Lisa Peters (eds), Religion and the Book Trade (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 66-82
  • ‘All talk and no action? Early modern political dialogue’, in Andrew Hadfield (ed.), The Oxford Handbook to Early Modern Prose (Oxford University Press, 2013), 27-42
  • ‘Beastly metamorphoses: losing control in early modern literary culture’, in Jonathan Herring et al. (eds), Intoxication and Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 193-209
  • ‘The Formation of Nationhood’ (an essay on King John and Merry Wives of Windsor), in Arthur F. Kinney (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare (Oxford University Press, 2011), 571-586
  • ‘1553’, in Joad Raymond (ed.), The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture Volume One: Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660 (Oxford University Press, 2011), 548-556
  • ‘“This fatall Medea”,“this Clytemnestra”: Reading and the Detection of Mary Queen of Scots’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 73 (2010), 523-541
  • ‘Doing Away with the Drab Age: Research Opportunities in Mid-Tudor Literature (1530-1580)’ (with Mike Pincombe), Literature Compass (2010), online only
  • 'Community' (an essay on Lydgate's Serpent of Division and Sackville and Norton's Gorboduc) in Brian Cummings and James Simpson (eds), Cultural Reformations (Oxford University Press, 2010), 441-458
  • 'Manuscript, Authenticity and "Evident Proofs" against the Scottish Queen', in English Manuscript Studies, 1100-1700, 15 (2009), 198-218
  • ‘Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: John Benson and the 1640 Poems’, in Shakespeare, 5.3 (2009), 271-91
  • ‘The Politics of Shakespeare’s Sonnets’, in David Armitage and Andrew Fitzmaurice (eds), Shakespeare and Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 101-118
  • ‘Thomas Elyot and the bonds of community’, in Mike Pincombe and Cathy Shrank (eds), The Oxford Handbook to Tudor Literature, 1585-1603 (Oxford University Press, 2009), 154-69
  • ‘The travails of Tudor literature’ (co-written with Mike Pincombe), in Mike Pincombe and Cathy Shrank (eds), The Oxford Handbook to Tudor Literature, 1585-1603 (Oxford University Press, 2009), 1-19
  • ‘Stammering, snoring and other problems in Early Modern dialogue’, in John Blakeley and Mike Pincombe (eds), Writing and Reform in Sixteenth-Century England: Interdisciplinary Essays (Edwin Mellen, 2008), 99-120
  • ‘“But I that knew what harbred in that hed”: Thomas Wyatt and his posthumous interpreters’¸ Proceedings of the British Academy, 154 (2008), 375-401
  • ‘Trollers and dreamers: defining the citizen-subject in sixteenth-century cheap print’, Yearbook of English Studies, 38.1-2, special edition on Tudor Literature, ed. by Andrew Hiscock (2008), 102-118
  • “Matters of love as of discourse”: the English sonnet, 1560-1580’, Studies in Philology, 105:1 (2008), 30-49
  • ‘Disputing Purgatory in Henrician England: dialogue and religious reform’, in Andreas Höffele, Stephan Laqué, Enno Ruge, Gabriela Schmidt (eds), Representing Religious Pluralization in Early Modern Europe (Lit Verlag, 2007), 45-62
  • ‘John Bale and the word: reconfiguring the “medieval” in Reformation England’, in Gordon McMullan and David Matthews (eds), Reading the Medieval in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 179-192
  • ‘A work by John Bale identified?’, Notes and Queries, New Series, 53 (2006), 421-422.
  • ‘Foreign bodies: politics, polemic and the continental landscape’, in Mike Pincombe (ed.), Travels and Translations (Ashgate, 2004).
  • ‘"These fewe scribbled wordes": representing scribal intimacy in early modern print’, Huntington Library Quarterly 67 (2004), 295-314.
  • ‘Civil tongues: language, law and Reformation’, in Jennifer Richards (ed.), Early Modern Civil Discourses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 19-34.
  • ‘Civility and the city in Coriolanus’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 54 (2003), 406-423.
  • ‘Rhetorical constructions of a national community: the role of the King’s English in mid-Tudor writing’, in Alexandra Shepard and Phil Withington (eds), Communities in Early Modern England (Manchester University Press, 2000), 180-198.
  • ‘Andrew Borde and the politics of identity in Reformation England’, Reformation, 5 (2000), 1-26.

Forthcoming work includes articles and essays on Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; citing Scripture in late medieval and early modern drama; the marital correspondence of Sir John Cheke; Roger Ascham’s Toxophilus; and early modern English translations of Erasmus’ colloquies.