Deanne Williams

Deanne Williams is an Associate Professor of English at York University, Toronto. Her research focuses on Medieval and Renaissance literature, especially Shakespeare. For more information about Deanne, please click here.

Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood

by Deanne Williams

Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood is the first scholarly study devoted entirely to Shakespeare's girl characters. Revealing the dramatic and cultural centrality of the young girl in early modern English culture, and highlighting the 'girl' as a distinctive category in Shakespeare, this book locates Shakespeare's girl characters and representations of girlhood at a pivotal moment in the history of girlhood as an identity and social condition. Illuminating Shakespeare's girl characters in their relationship to earlier historical discourses and representations, and charting the development of Shakespeare's construction of the girl as a dramatic and literary figure throughout his career, Deanne Williams demonstrates that Shakespeare's girl characters are consistently and self-consciously invested in performance, from playing dramatic and musical parts, to performing public and domestic roles. Calling attention to the influence of Shakespeare and his girl characters on girl performers, patrons, and playwrights, Williams makes an original contribution to the history and culture of the early modern girl.

This book is available from Palgrave Macmillan and Amazon.ca.

Read Nadia T. van Pelt's review of Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood for The Journal of Northern Renaissance (PDF).

Read Janice Vall-Russell's review of Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood for Cahiers Élisabéthains (PDF).

Read Charlotte Scott's review of Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood for The Shakespeare Survey Online (PDF) or link to it online here.


The Afterlife of Ophelia

Edited by Kaara L. Peterson and Deanne Williams

Although she appears in only a handful of scenes in Hamlet, Ophelia is one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic and unforgettable characters. This collection of new essays is the first to explore the rich afterlife of one of Shakespeare’s most recognizable characters. With contributions from an international group of established and emerging scholars, The Afterlife of Ophelia moves beyond the confines of existing scholarship and forges connections among fields that are typically pursued as separate lines of inquiry within Shakespeare studies: film and new media studies, theatre and performance studies, historicist and contextual perspectives, and studies of popular culture.

This book is available from Palgrave Macmillan and Amazon.com.



The French Fetish From Chaucer To Shakespeare

The French Fetish From Chaucer To ShakespeareWhat was the impact of the Norman Conquest on the culture of medieval and early modern England? Deanne Williams answers this question by contending that not only French language and literature, but the idea of Frenchness itself, produced England’s literary and cultural identity. Examining a variety of English representations of and responses to France and “the French” in the work of Chaucer, Caxton, Skelton, Shakespeare, and others, this book shows how English literature emerged out of a simultaneous engagement with and resistance to the pervasive presence of French language and culture in England that was the legacy of the Norman Conquest. Eagerness to appropriate the status of French culture, along with the desire to establish a distintive identity apart from it, produced a fascinating and conflicted set of negotiations and disentanglements. Drawing upon current theories of gender and postcoloniality, this book revises traditional notions of English literary history by inserting France as a primary element in English self-fashioning, from Chaucer’s Prioress to Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Read Theresa Coletti’s review in Speculum.

This book is available from Cambridge University Press and Amazon.com.

Postcolonial Approaches to the European Middle Ages: Translating Cultures

Edited by Ananya Jahanara Kabir and Deanne Williams

This collection of original essays is dedicated to exploring the intersections between medieval and postcolonial studies. Ranging across a variety of academic disciplines, from art history to cartography, and from Anglo-Saxon to Hispanic studies, this volume highlights the connections between medieval and postcolonial studies through the exploration of a theme common to both areas of study: translation as a mechanism of and metaphor for cultures in contact, confrontation, and competition. Drawing upon the widespread medieval trope of the translation of empire and culture, this collection engages the concept of translation from its most narrow, lexicographic sense, to the broader applications of its literal meaning, “to carry across.” It carries the multilingual, multicultural realities of medieval studies to postcolonial analyses of the coercive and subversive powers of cultural translation, offering a set of case studies of translation as the transfer of language, culture, and power.

Read J.J. Cohen’s review in Notes and Queries.

Read Christine Chism’s review in University of Toronto Quarterly.

This book is available from Cambridge University Press and Amazon.com.