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Erica Sheen



Erica Sheen teaches and researches in the Renaissance and in cinema, especially American and European cinemas in the Cold War.

She first trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and then worked as a freelance orchestral musician. After taking a degree in English Literature at Birkbeck College London, she began doctoral research on Shakespeare, and also pursued a hitherto covert interest in film at the British Film Institute. Erica taught at London, Oxford, Cambridge and Sheffield Universities before joining the Department at York in 2007. Since then, she has held a Visiting Scholarship at St Johns Oxford, a Visiting Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center, Austin; research residences at the Tamiment Library NYU, the Truman Presidential Library and the Getty Research Institute; and in 2012-13, a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.  In 2013-14 she has been elected to a Research Fellowship at CAS, LMU Munich and invited to the University of Würzburg as Visiting Professor.

Her book, Shakespeare and the Institution of Theatre: the Best in this Kind (2009), is published in Palgrave's Shakespeare Studies series. Edited collections include Literature, Politics and Law in Renaissance England (with Lorna Hutson, Palgrave 2004) and The Cinema of David Lynch (with Annette Davison, Wallflower 2004). Her next book is titled Cold War  Shakespeare. She is co-organiser of the Cold War Cultures network, and of the NWO-funded international network Shakespeare in the Making of Europe 2014-16.



My research continues to combine Renaissance studies with work on cinema. The link between them is my interest in the cultural politics of historical media, and its implications for the way we understand and enjoy media texts - like Shakespeare’s plays or contemporary film. My book Shakespeare and the Institution of Theatre: the Best in this Kind (Palgrave 2009) re-evaluates institutional approaches to Shakespearean theatre and offers readings that show how his plays 'enable' the historical circumstances of their production.

I try to show how these circumstances often require strongly contrasting modes of theoretical description, not just one - the one a particular researcher happens to 'do'. This is an important aspect of my approach: a commitment to the range of critical paradigms dictated by the individual text in its own institutional context (rather than mine). My work thus combines literary techniques of close reading; theoretical approaches to concepts of the institution and of the public sphere; production history; the histories of property and intellectual property; and biography. It also addresses the complementary range of 'presences' we encounter in and through the media and its productions: I work on animals as well as people.


My forthcoming monograph, Cold War Shakespeare, has been supported by research grants from the Harry Ransom Center, Austin; the Tamiment Library and Robert F Wagner Archives, NYU; the Getty Research Institute, LA; a British Academy Research Grant; and in 2012-13 a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. In 2009 I was co-convener of an ESF Exploratory Workshop on Cold War Cultures, and and I am currently co-convener of an international network, Shakespeare in the Making of Europe 2014-16, funded by the NWO.  I am a member of the team that is producing The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature 1500-1700, ed. Bradin Cormack and Lorna Hutson. 


I welcome inquiries and research applications relating to any of these areas of interest.

Contact details

Professor Erica Sheen
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Y010 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 324718