SPRiTe History

Since its inception, SPRiTe has worked to redefine established and foundational categories in Shakespeare studies by combining historical-literary scholarship with theatre history and performance studies. This work involves the organization of seminars for the presentation of new research, public outreach events, and regular collaboration with the McGill Drama and Theatre Program. In addition to individual and collaborative presentations, the team has organized seminars at the International Shakespeare Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Shakespeare World Congress, and the Shakespeare Association of America Conference. These activities have fostered the publication of numerous articles and book-length studies (see publications).

SPRiTe began in 1993 with a three-year FCAR-funded project entitled “Shakespeare in the Theatre: an Interdisciplinary Approach.” Core membership at that time included the Principal Investigator, John Ripley (McGill), Michael Bristol (McGill), Leanore Lieblein (McGill),  Denis Salter (McGill), Catherine Shaw (McGill), and Ed Pechter (Concordia). In addition to hosting a series of seminars and public lectures, the project provided funds to send graduate students to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., thus inaugurating a strong relationship with the Folger that continues to this day. A collection of essays deriving from the project appeared in 1996 (Textual and Theatrical Shakespeare: Questions of Evidence, ed. Edward Pechter).

A second three-year FCAR-funded project entitled “Shakespeare and Modernism” began in 1996, with Michael Bristol as Principal Investigator. In addition to continuing the activities of “Shakespeare in the Theatre,” this project convened a major international conference at McGill in October of 1997. A  related collection of essays came out in 2001 (Shakespeare and Modern Theatre: The Performance of Modernity, ed. Michael Bristol and Kathleen McLuskie). The next major project was “Performances of Character: Shakespeare, Theatre, and Critical Practice,” which ran from 2003 to 2006 under the direction of Paul Yachnin and led to the publication of a collection entitled Shakespeare and Character (eds. Paul Yachnin and Jessica Slights, 2009). Professor Yachnin also served as leader for “Language Incorporated,” which ran from 2006 to 2009 and led to the publication of a volume entitled Shakespeare’s World of Words (ed. Paul Yachnin, 2014).

One of SPRiTe’s proudest and most enduring legacies stems from the support it has provided to young scholars. The list of former research assistants and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to distinguished careers in the academy is as follows:

-David Anderson (RA), Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

-Bradley Clissold (RA), Professor of English at Memorial University.

-Sara Coodin (RA), Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

-Kevin Curran (Postdoc), Professor of English at the University of North Texas.

-Marcel DeCoste (RA), Professor of English at the University of Regina.

-Jennifer Drouin (RA; Postdoc), Professor of English at the University of Alabama.

-Wes Folkerth (RA), Professor of English at McGill.

-Catherine Graham (RA; Postdoc), Professor of Theatre and Film in the School of Arts at McMaster University.

-Jessica Slights (RA), Professor of English at Acadia University.

-Sarah Werner (RA),  Undergraduate Program Director at the Folger Shakespeare Library.