Professor Cathy Shrank

Professor of Tudor & Renaissance Literature


Photograph of Prof Cathy Shrank

Room 2.19, Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

Internal extension: 28485
Tel: +44 (0)114-222-8485
Fax: +44 (0)114-222-8481

email :


My research focuses on sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literature. 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 which I found a particular enthusiasm for Tudor writing, which I developed during my PhD on sixteenth-century humanism and national identity.

From September 2015, I will be on a three-year Major Research Fellowship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, studying the different ways in which writers from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries used dialogue (works written in the form of a conversation).


My publications are mainly on sixteenth and early seventeenth-century literature, and 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, in 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), and have edited Philip Massinger´s City Madam, which transports the Angelo plot of Measure for Measure to a London merchant’s family (Globe Quartos, 2005; republished 2010 to accompany the production of the play by the Royal Shakespeare Company).

I am the convenor of the Tudor Symposium, an international network for scholars studying the literature, history and culture of the ‘long sixteenth century’ If you would like to become part of the Tudor Symposium, please contact me, using the email address above.

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

From 2009-13, I was co-investigator, with Prof Steven W. May, on the AHRC-funded project, `Early modern manuscript poetry: recovering our scribal heritage´. For further details, see the project webpages. 

Current research includes a monograph on dialogue from the late medieval period to the Restoration; I am also in the process of producing an edition of Shakespeare´s poems, co-edited with Raphael Lyne, for the Annotated English Poets series, and am one of the General Editors of the Oxford Works of Thomas Nashe. 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’).

Hear me talking about early modern comedy.


Current and recent PhDs include projects on Post-War Polish productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, bastardy in Shakespeare, 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).


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



  • 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

  • with Mike Pincombe, The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature (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

  • Philip Massinger, The City Madam (London: Nick Hern Books, 2005; reissued 2010).
  • William Shakespeare, Coriolanus in Stephen Greenblatt et al. (eds), Norton Shakespeare, 3rd edn (New York: W.W. Norton, 2015)

Articles, Essays, Chapters, etc.

  • ‘Andrew Borde and the politics of identity in Reformation England’, Reformation, 5 (2000), 1-26.
  • ‘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: Manchester University Press, 2000), 180-198.
  • ‘Civility and the city in Coriolanus’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 54 (2003), 406-423.
  • ‘Civil tongues: language, law and Reformation’, in Jennifer Richards (ed.), Early Modern Civil Discourses (Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 19-34.
  • ‘"These fewe scribbled wordes": representing scribal intimacy in early modern print’, Huntington Library Quarterly,, 67 (2004), 295-314.
  • ‘Foreign bodies: politics, polemic and the continental landscape’, in Mike Pincombe (ed.), Travels and Translations (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).
  • ‘A work by John Bale identified?’, Notes and Queries, New Series, 53 (2006), 421-422.
  • ‘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
  • ‘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
  • ‘“Matters of love as of discourse”: the English sonnet, 1560-1580’, Studies in Philology, 105:1 (2008), 30-49.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘“But I that knew what harbred in that hed”: Thomas Wyatt and his posthumous interpreters’¸ Proceedings of the British Academy, 154 (2008), 375-401.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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 Politics of Shakespeare’s Sonnets’, in David Armitage and Andrew Fitzmaurice (eds), Shakespeare and Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 101-118.
  • ‘Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: John Benson and the 1640 Poems’, in Shakespeare, 5.3 (2009), 271-91.
  • 'Manuscript, Authenticity and "Evident Proofs" against the Scottish Queen', in English Manuscript Studies, 1100-1700, 15 (2009), 198-218.
  • '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.
  • with Mike Pincombe, ‘Doing Away with the Drab Age: Research Opportunities in Mid-Tudor Literature (1530-1580)’, Literature Compass (2010), online only.
  • ‘“This fatall Medea”,“this Clytemnestra”: Reading and the Detection of Mary Queen of Scots’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 73 (2010), 523-541.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Beastly metamorphoses: losing control in early modern literary culture’, in Jonathan Herring et al. (eds), Intoxication and Society (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 193-209.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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.

Forthcoming work includes articles and essays on early Tudor prose fiction, the Latin translations of the Henrician poet Thomas Wyatt, sixteenth-century courtesy manuals, editing, laughter, memory, and early modern answer poems.

Reviews of Writing the Nation have appeared in Journal of British Studies, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Reformation, Renaissance Quarterly, The Sidney Journal, Sixteenth-Century Studies, Spenser Studies, and