Katherine Conway

Associate Professor of English, Emerita


Phone: 508-286-3606

Fax: 508-286-8623


Ph.D., M.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
B.A., Regis College


Main Interests

  • Early Modern English Literature–Poetry and Plays
  • Legal and Material Culture of Early Modern England
  • Contemporary Performance and Film Production of Early Modern English and European Dramatists

Other Interests

  • Early Modern Diaries
  • Contemporary Fiction and Poetry


Resurrecting Elizabeth In Seventeenth-Century Texts, Eds. Elizabeth Hageman and Katherine Conway, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007. A collection of essays by renown and emergent scholars on the ways that Queen Elizabeth was represented after her death in selected plays, pamphlets, works by early modern women writers, and musical compositions of the seventeenth century.

“300” and Branaugh’s Henry V. An essay suggesting how “300”, the film version of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, appropriates Branaugh’s film of Shakespeare’s Henry V (1989). Thus, “300” makes Branaugh’s film of Shakespeare’s Henry V the contemporary film validation for invasion and war. Under consideration.

King Lear and the Legal Requirements of Filial Affection” This essay looks at how the play King Lear responds to the historical moment in which it was produced, particularly how the feudal world still remained dominant in early 17th Century England through tenancy, and the emergent social and legal “quid pro quo” conduct of individual self-interest. Using the most popular legal handbook of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Littleton’s Tenures, I suggest that Cordelia is legally prevented from declaring hyperbolic love for her father because as the only unmarried woman among her sisters, she must follow the kind of declaration of homage that Littleton sets out for femme soles–single women. The essay looks also at Slade’s Case, an opportunity for Westminster judges to debate the elements of contract and the individual courts that should be allowed to hear cases on unmet obligations. I suggest that the play King Lear is immersed in both these cultures. Under consideration.

Grounding Shakespeare: Land Law, Property, And Legal Culture In Shakespeare’s Plays.
Written from cultural and literary perspectives, Grounding Shakespeare argues that the legal puzzles that plot the plays and define the characters–especially the female characters–captivated Shakespeare’s original audiences for whom acquiring land meant advancing in status and wealth. Grounding Shakespeare suggests how the plays may have functioned for the original audiences almost like entrepreneurial guides, similar to the popular early modern legal handbooks that enabled some English subjects to procure wealth and status through the varied legal ways of acquiring land. Under consideration.

Teaching Interests

  • Shakespeare and his representations of nationality and other cultures
  • Contemporary film and theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s work and the work of other early modern dramatists
  • Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Poetry, including Milton, Wroth, Herrick, Marvell and Bradstreet
  • Constructions of Family and Paradigms of Human Growth in Literature

Student Projects

Links between Shakespeare’s TEMPEST and the Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins; performance history of Shakespeare’s plays; the policies and practices of distributing film productions of Shakespeare’s plays are all topics investigated by Scott Clark (class of 2009) and myself through awards of Wheaton Research grants (2006-2007) and a Mars Student/Faculty Research Grant, Summer 2007.

Analytical Research that investigates the material culture of the early modern period and how the drama of the English playwrights responds to it.

Creative Projects that are inspired by studying the poets and playwrights of Early Modern England

Research Interests

  • Shakespeare
  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • Renaissance Poetry: Especially the poetry of Lady Mary Wroth, John Donne, Robert Herrick, Amelia Lanyer and the Anglo-American poet, Ann Bradstreet
  • Early Modern Venetian Culture
  • Influences of Asian and Venetian Culture on English Renaissance Poetry and Drama
  • Early Modern English Land Law and the Property Laws that affected women
  • Early Modern Food Production and Agricultural
  • The Inns of Court during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  • John Fletcher
  • The Work of the Federal Writers Project and the Federal Artists Project during the Great Depression
  • Contemporary poetry and fiction





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