Paul Yachnin

 Paul Yachnin
Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext. 09349
Email address: 
paul.yachnin [at]

Arts-W 35
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Drama and Theatre
Specialization by geographical area: 
Great Britain
Specialization by time period: 
Early Modern
Creative Practice & Performance Studies
Critical Theory
Philosophical Approaches
Sociology of Literature
Areas of interest: 

Renaissance drama in English; sociology of literature and culture; publics and public making; history of conversion in multiple forms; law and literature; animalities; religion and literature; critical theory; textual editing; higher education policy and practice; public scholarship; Shakespeare; Ben Jonson; Thomas Middleton; John Donne; Michel de Montaigne. 


I am keenly interested in interdisciplinary, team-based, and public-facing scholarship on large questions around both public-making from early modernity to the present day and also multiple forms of individual and collective transformation. These areas of interest have gathered strength by way of two international, long-term projects that I directed—Making Publics (MaPs) and Early Modern Conversions. Both brought scholars and artists together into substantial collaboration, both fostered research and publication by 100+ young scholars, and both have produced scores of journal publications and books by individual authors and by groups of scholars. Both projects also engaged with people outside the academy. MaPs’ ideas about the social life of art were featured on the CBC Radio IDEAS series, “The Origins of the Modern Public.” The Conversions project aired ideas and questions also with colleagues at CBC IDEAS; and we worked with artists at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Opera McGill. 

Among my own publications are the books,  Stage-Wrights  and  The Culture of Playgoing in Early Modern England  (with Anthony Dawson), editions of  Richard II  (with Dawson) and  The Tempest (with JF Bernard) and co-edited books such as  Making Publics in Early Modern Europe;  Forms of Association; and Conversion Machines: Apparatus, Artifice, Body. I have co-authored many publications, both scholarly and policy essays, with graduate students. With Bronwen Wilson (Art History, UCLA), I edit an Edinburgh University Press book series, “Early Modern Conversions.” I also publish non-academic essays about Shakespeare and modern life such as “Sexual Justice: Thinking with Shakespeare” and “Tragedy as a Way of Life.”  

For the past decade, I have worked on the reform of graduate education policy and practice. I recently wrapped up TRaCE McGill, which tracked the career pathways of 4,500 PhD grads from across all the faculties at McGill and told the stories of more than 100 of them; I am presently leading an international PhD tracking and story-telling project called TRaCE Transborder. 


Ph.D. (Toronto)
M.Litt. (Edinburgh)
​​B.A. (McGill)

Curriculum vitae: 
Selected publications: 


Making Publics in Shakespeare’s Playhouse. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Forthcoming, 2024.

Conversion Machines: Apparatus, Artifice, Body. Ed. Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023.

Conversion Machines: Apparatus, Artifice, Body. Edited by Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin

Shakespeare’s World of Words. Ed. Paul Yachnin. Arden Shakespeare. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Forms of Association: Making Publics in Early Modern Europe. Ed. Paul Yachnin and Marlene Eberhart. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015.

Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: People, Things, Forms of Knowledge. Ed. Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin. London and New York: Routledge, 2010; paperback, Routledge, 2011.

Shakespeare and Character: Theory, History, Performance, and Theatrical Persons. Ed. Paul Yachnin and Jessica Slights. London: Palgrave, 2009.

Shakespeare and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Peter Sabor and Paul Yachnin. London: Ashgate, 2008.

Shakespeare and the Cultures of Performance. Ed. Paul Yachnin and Patricia Badir. London: Ashgate, 2008.

The Culture of Playgoing in Shakespeare’s England: A Collaborative Debate. With Anthony Dawson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001; paperback, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Stage-wrights: Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton and the Making of Theatrical Value. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.


The Tempest. Broadview Press and Internet Shakespeare Editions. Co-edited with JF Bernard. Broadview Press, 2021.

Richard II. Oxford Shakespeare. Co-edited with Anthony Dawson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Meeting of Gallants at an Ordinary and Plato's Cap. In The Complete Works of Thomas Middleton. Ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Book Chapters and Articles

Chapters (Selected)

“Human Conversion Machines: Hamlet and Others.” In Conversion Machines: Apparatus, Artifice, Body. Ed. Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming.

“Kindness: Animal Virtue in The Tempest.” In Shakespeare and Virtue: A Handbook. Ed. Julia Reinhard Lupton and Donovan Sherman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.

“Conversional Economies: Thomas Middleton’s Chaste Maid in Cheapside.” In Performing Conversion: Cities, Theatre and Early Modern Transformations. Ed. José R. Jouve-Martín and Stephen Wittek. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021. 154-71.

“Freedom from Debt: The Economies of The Tempest.” In Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe. Ed Subha Mukherji. London: Palgrave, 2020. 239-60.

“Shylock, Conversion, Toleration.” In Imagining Religious Toleration. Ed. Alison Conway and David Alvarez. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. 18-34.

“The Laws of Measure for Measure.” In Shakespeare and Judgment. Ed Kevin Curran. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017. 139-56.

“The Publicity of the Look: Cymbeline and the Visual Field.” In Shakespeare in our Time: A Shakespeare Association of America Companion. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. 277-85.

“Slips of Wilderness: Verbal and Gestural Language in Measure for Measure." With Patrick Neilson. In Shakespeare’s World of Words. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. 187-210.

“Afterword: Richard Helgerson and Making Publics.” In Forms of Association: Making Publics in Early Modern Europe. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015. 289-311.

“The Reformation of Space in Shakespeare’s Playhouse.” In Making Space Public in Early Modern Europe: Performance, Geography, Privacy. Ed. Angela Vanhaelen and Joseph P. Ward. London and New York: Routledge, 2013. 262-80.

“Playing with Space: Making a Public in Middleton’s Theatre.” In A Handbook of Middleton Studies. Ed. Gary Taylor and Trish Thomas Henley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 32-46.

“Shakespeare’s Public Animals.” In Humankinds: The Renaissance and its Anthropologies. Ed. Andreas Höfele and Stephan Laqué. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2011. 185-98.

“The Well-Hung Shrew.” Co-authored with Jennifer Shea. In Ecocritical Shakespeare. Ed. Lynne Bruckner and Dan Brayton. London: Ashgate Press, 2011. 105-22.

“Shakespeare and the Spaces of Publicity.” Opinion publica y espacio urbano en la Edad Moderna. Ed. Carmen Serrano Sanchez. Gijon: Ediciones Trea, 2010. 15-24.

Hamlet and the Social Thing in Early Modern England.” In Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: People, Things, Forms of Knowledge. Ed. Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin. London and New York: Routledge, 2010. 81-95.

“Eating Montaigne.” In Reading Renaissance Ethics. Ed. Marshall Grossman. New York and London: Routledge, 2007. 157-72.

Articles (Selected)

“Shakespeare’s Gifts: Commerce, Conversation, Conversion.” Shakespeare Studies, forthcoming.

“Shame and Solidarity in the Sonnets.” Shakespeare Quarterly, 74.1 (Spring 2023): 37-48.

Performance: Shakespeare’s Faith Workshop.” In A Universe of Terms. The Immanent Frame, December 2019.

“Scholarship at the Edge of Doom.” English Literary Renaissance, 50 (2019): 161-72. Invited essay to celebrate 50th anniversary of ELR.

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Conversion.” The Immanent Frame, May 7 2018.

“Rejoicing in the Law: The Performance of Authorship in A View from the Bridge." Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 60.1 (2012): 77-89.

“Performing Publicity.” Shakespeare Bulletin 28 (2010): 201-20.

With Desmond Manderson. “Shakespeare and Judgment: The Renewal of Law and Literature.” The European Legacy, 15 (2010): 195–213.

“’The Perfection of Ten’: Populuxe Art and Artisanal Value in Troilus and Cressida." Shakespeare Quarterly, 56 (2005): 306-25.

With Desmond Manderson. “Love on Trial: Nature, Law, and Same-Sex Love in the Court of Shakespeare.” McGill Law Journal 49 (2004): 475-511.

“The Jewish King Lear: Populuxe, Performance, and the Dimension of Literature.” Shakespeare Bulletin 21.4 (Winter 2003): 5-18.

“Reversal of Fortune: Shakespeare, Middleton, and the Puritans.” ELH 70 (2003): 757-86.

"Magical Properties: Vision, Possession, and Wonder in Othello." Theatre Journal 48 (1996): 197-208.

"Personations: The Taming of the Shrew and the Limits of Theoretical Criticism." Early Modern Literary Studies 2.1 (1996): 2.1-31.

"Shakespeare's Politics of Loyalty: Sovereignty and Subjectivity in Antony and Cleopatra." Studies in English Literature 33.2 (Spring 1993): 343-63.

"The Politics of Theatrical Mirth: A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Mad World, My Masters, and Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Quarterly 43.1 (Spring 1992): 51-66.

Public Scholarship and Policy Publications (Selected)

“Shakespeare the Weaver.” Teaching Shakespeare, 23 (Summer 2023). Forthcoming.

The Hardness of King Lear.” McGill Friends of the Library Shakespeare Lecture. Moderator/conversation partner with Paul Gross and Kimberley Rampersad. McGill University. January 16 2023. Live and online.

Restaging the Classics: Texts with Antiquated Ideas in Modern Times.” Siminovitch Forum, with Renaltta Arluk and Kimberly Rampersad, hosted by Beck Lloyd. September 23 2022. Online.

Contemporary Shakespeare: King Lear with Dr. Paul Yachnin and Dr. Greg Mackie. Vancouver Art Gallery. January 26, 2022. Online.

Bard Explored.” In conversation with Paul Budra. Bard on the Beach. Oct 2 2021.

“Making it Big in a Small Room.” Globe Magazine, Autumn 2021.

“After the Plague.” Globe Magazine, Summer 2021.

Degrees of Success: The Expert Panel on the Labour Market Transition of PhD Graduates. Canadian Council of Academies. Released January 26 2021.

Shakespeare's plague-time play shows money corrupts but can also heal.” The Conversation, November 2 2020.

The PhD conversion experience.” University Affairs, September 30 2020.

After the plague, Shakespeare imagined a world saved from poison, slander, and the evil eye.” The Conversation, April 5 2020.

Humanities PhD grads working beyond the academy could shake up university culture.” The Conversation, January 7 2020.

With Hannah Korell.Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ explores colonialism, resistance and liberation.” The Conversation, November 5 2019.

Four PhD grads in the humanities tell their stories.” University Affairs, October 9 2019.

“Sexual Justice: Thinking with Shakespeare.” Queen’s Quarterly, Fall 2019, 327-41.

“Dream-Work in the House that Shakespeare (and Joss Whedon) Built.” Queen’s Quarterly, Winter 2019, 2-13.

“Shakespeare and the Beauty of War.” Queen’s Quarterly, Fall 2018, 327-39.

“Tragedy as a Way of Life.” Queen’s Quarterly, Spring 2018, 7-19.

“Alzheimer’s Disease: What would Shakespeare do?” Queen’s Quarterly, Winter 2018, 487-99.

Tracking humanities PhD outcomes: an update on the TRaCE Project.” With Eliza Bateman and Catherine Nygren. University Affairs, March 14 2017.

With Desmond Manderson.Treating HPHD Disorder—Shakespeare, Law, and Public Life.” Cogent Arts & Humanities, November 2016.

The Crisis in the Humanities: What would Shakespeare do? Humanities 2016, 5(2), May 18 2016.

“Rethinking the Humanities PhD.” University Affairs, April 2015.

“Making Scholarship Public: Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity in Early Modern Studies.” Renaissance and Reformation, 37 (2014): 115-29.

With Leigh Yetter. “The Future of the PhD in the Humanities.” Policy Options, Nov-Dec 2014.

Lead author. White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities. Dec 2013.


Plenary/Keynote Presentations (Selected)

“Shakespeare’s Reformations: Thinking with Conversion.” Annual Collins Lecture. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. April 23 2019.

“'Covering for this Naked Soul:' King Lear and the Nature of Conversion.” Renaissance Conversions: Concepts, Contexts, Practices. University of Lausanne. Organized by CUSO—Conférence Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale. November 17 2018.

“Thinking with Conversion in Shakespeare’s Playhouse.” Annual Renaissance Lecture. Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. University of Kent. Canterbury. October 11 2018.

“Converting Conversion in Shakespeare and Middleton: Theatre, Religion and the Transformation of Knowledge.” Change and Exchange: A Colloquium. Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, April 29-30 2016.

“Lear’s Conversions of Kind: Moving Minds and Souls in Shakespeare.” Moving Minds: Converting Cognition and Emotion in History. Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, March 2-4 2016.

“The Public Life of the Law in Shakespeare’s Theatre.” Shakespeare and the Public Symposium. Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Feb 17-18 2016.

“A Midsummer’s Dream of the Public Sphere.” Early Modern Studies Conference. University of Reading, July 12-14 2012.

“Public Dreams.” “Shakespearean Reverie” Symposium. University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia, October 6-8, 2011.

“Public Animals.” Discours sur les formes du vivant : La renaissance à la croisée des écritures. Figures animales du sujet humain. Bordeaux, November 28 2009.

“Seeing, Judging, Making Space Public.” Symposium on “Theatre and the Reformation of Space in Early Modern Europe.” Folger Shakespeare Library, October 30 2009.

“Shakespeare’s Public Animals.” Humankinds: The Renaissance and its Anthropologies. Munich, July 16-18 2009.

“Shakespeare and the Spaces of Publicity.” La Ciudad de Las Palabras: Opiniòn Pùblica y Espacio Urbano en la Edad Moderna. Universidad de Alcalá, Spain. April 28-30, 2008.

“The McGill Shakespeare Moot Court.” With Desmond Manderson. Shakespeare and the Law Conference. University of Warwick. July 9-11, 2007.

Policy Presentations (Selected)

Expert panelist. Demonstrating the Impact and Value of Arts and Humanities Research Outside Academia.” Webinar put on by Interfolio. April 27 2023.

“The TRaCE Transborder Project: How Story-Telling can Change Graduate Education.” Consejo Mexicano de Estudios de Posgrado. 34o Congresso Nacional de Posgrado y Expo-Posgrado. Online. Sept 8 2021.

“The Future of the Humanities PhD: Two Questions.” Cultural Heritage 360 Workshop. University of Durham. Online. July 21 2021.

What did we do right? Imagine the world in 2070.” A Building 21, McGill University Symposium.” October 27 2020.

« Comment échapper à l'île enchantée de l'Académie: améliorer la mobilité professionnelle des doctorants en sciences humaines. » Opening keynote. Journées d’étude et assemblée générale de l’Association des facultés et établissements de lettres et sciences humaines. Université du Québec à Montréal. November 6 2019.

“Why humanity needs the humanities now: Five ways to move the humanities into public space and public action.” University of British Columbia. October 24 2019.

Presenter and co-organizer. With Joshua Lambier (co-organizer), Thomas Peace, and Sandra Lapointe. “Becoming a Public Scholar: Community Engagement and the Future of the Humanities.” Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Regina. May 28 2018.

« Le doctorat en sciences humaines : défis et opportunités. » ACFAS. Chicoutimi, May 8 2018.

With Scott Krawczyk. Public Humanities and Beyond: A forum for graduate students and faculty to explore diverse careers in the humanities. Georgetown University. March 16 2018.

“Technologies and Generations.” With Andrew Piper. The Challenge of Transformation: Lifelong Learning and Living in the 21st Century. A day-long symposium. McGill University, November 3 2017.

“A Wild Dedication to Unpath’d Waters, Undream’d Shores.” Plenary. Future of the PhD in Humanities Conference. Carleton University, Ottawa, May 17-18 2016.

With Desmond Manderson. “Shakespeare and Pedagogy: The Humanities, Pure and Applied.” Shakespeare and the Public: A Symposium. Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, February 18 2016.

“Public Skills.” Conference: Future of the PhD in the Arts: Changing conditions for graduate education in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts. University of Alberta. March 20-21 2015.

Public Scholarship Presentations (Selected)

Shakespeare Richard III shows us how to resist tyranny.” With Colm Feore, Jessica B. Hill, Randall Martin, and Geoffrey Sigalet. CBC Ideas. April 2 2021.

“Reconciling Religion.” With David Seljak (Religious Studies, University of Waterloo) and moderator Karin Wells (journalist and documentarian). Meighan Forum, Stratford Shakespeare Festival. September 25 2019.

“Table Talk: Coriolanus.” With Mikaela Davies (Assistant Director, Coriolanus; Director, Robert Lepage). Stratford Shakespeare Festival. July 10 2018.

Organizer and presenter. “Playing for Free A workshop performance based on The Tempest." Collaboration of the School of Performance at Ryerson University, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and the Early Modern Conversions Project. Ryerson University, Toronto. February 1-2 2018.

Organizer and lead presenter. “Converting Sounds.” A three-day workshop, culminating with a workshop performance, based on Much Ado about Nothing and a Much Ado opera-in-progress. A collaboration of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Opera McGill, and the Early Modern Conversions Project. Guildhall School, London, June 5-7 2017.

“The Sublime Power of Conversion.” Lobby Talk, Stratford Shakespeare Festival. S June 23 2016.

“Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” Interview and call-in show, CBC Radio Montreal. April 22 2016.

“Changing Kate: The Taming of the Shrew.” With Patricia Badir and Deborah Hay. Stratford Shakespeare Festival Forum. June 14 2015.

Souls under Pressure: King Lear. With Torrance Kirby and Colm Feore Stratford Shakespeare Festival Forum. August 17 2014.

“Shakespeare’s Leading Women: What the World’s Greatest Playwright can Teach us about Leadership.” With Lucy Peacock. International Leadership Association—15th Annual Global Conference. Montreal, Nov 1 2013.

“The Enchanted Island.” Workshop at C2-MTL. Montreal, May 22 2013.

“A World Coming Out: Shakespeare and the Public Life of Literature.” Inaugural Dean of Art's Public Lecture, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia, October 8 2011.

Macbeth in Hell: A Cabaret. With Paul Hopkins and Matthias Maute. Festival Baroque Montreal, June 26 2011.

“L'effet Hamlet: Comment Shakespeare a façonné la vie publique de la Renaissance,” Les Belles Soirées, Université de Montréal, 5 novembre 2010.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 


  • Fellowship, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 2016.
  • Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., 2009.
  • President of the Shakespeare Association of America, 2009-10
  • Friends of the Library “Friend of the Year,” McGill University, 2007-08.
  • Arts Undergraduate Society, McGill University, Teacher of the Year, 2004-05.

Research grants (Selected)

  • SSHRC Partnership Grant Early Modern Conversions: Religions, Cultures, Cognitive Ecologies 2013-19
  • SSHRC Connection Grant TRaCE—Track, Report, Connect, Exchange:Transforming Humanities Graduate Education for the Future of Canada 2015-16
  • SSHRC Connection Grant Future Humanities: Transforming Graduate Studies for the Future of Canada 2015
  • FQRSC Shakespeare’s World of Words 2006-10
  • MCRI program of SSHRC Making Publics: Media, Markets, and Association in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700 2005-10
Graduate supervision: 

It is a privilege and an education to work with graduate students on their questions and ideas around early modern literature, race, gender, religion, law, and culture, forms of conversion of all kinds, and how works of art and intellect are able to reimagine and thereby recreate the forms of social and political life.

Taught previously at: 

University of Toronto
Wilfrid Laurier University
University of British Columbia

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