Kaara Peterson

Kaara Peterson
Associate Professor
Director, Literary London Program

Oxford Campus
372 Bachelor Hall 


  • PhD, Early Modern British Literature, Boston University, 2001
  • MA, British Literature, Boston University
  • BA, English, Boston University

Teaching Interests

  • 16th and 17th century literature
  • Shakespeare and film
  • Intersections between literature, medicine, the arts, and drama

Research Interests

  • Early Modern British literature, culture, and medicine, especially drama
  • Medical history
  • Editorial practices
  • Art and other interdisciplinary approaches

Selected Publications


  • Forthcoming (2021), Humorality in Early Modern Art, Material Culture, and Performance. Ed. Kaara L. Peterson and Amy Kenny. Palgrave/Macmillan.
  • Forthcoming (2021), "Elizabeth I’s Mettle: Metallic/Medallic Portraits." Humorality in Early Modern Art, Material Culture, and Performance. Ed. Peterson and Kenny.
  • Forthcoming (2021), "Hamlet’s Touch of Picture." Hamlet: The State of Play. The Arden Shakespeare. Ed. Sonia Massai and Lucy Munro. London: Bloomsbury.

Published Works

  • "Picturing Elizabeth I's Triumph of Melancholy." English Literary Renaissance. 48.1 (Winter 2018): 1-40.
  • "Medical Discourses of Virginity and the Bed-Trick in Shakespearean Drama." The Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Science. Ed. Howard J. Marchitello and Evelyn Tribble. London: Macmillan, 2017. 377-99.
  • "The Ring's the Thing: Elizabeth's Virgin Knot Eternal and All's Well That Ends Well." Studies in Philology 113.1 (Winter 2016): 101-31.
  • "Elizabeth I's Virginity and the Body of Evidence: Jonson's Notorious Crux." Renaissance Quarterly 68.3 (Fall 2015): 840-71.
  • The Afterlife of Ophelia. Ed. Kaara L. Peterson and Deanne Williams. Palgrave (March 2012).
  • Popular Medicine, Hysterical Disease, and Social Controversy in Shakespeare's England. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010.
  • "Historica Passio: King Lear, Early Modern Medicine, and Editorial Practice." Shakespeare Quarterly 57.1 (Spring 2006): 1-22.
  • "Re-Anatomizing Melancholy: Burton and the Logic of Humoralism." Textual Healing: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Medicine. Ed. Elizabeth Lane Furdell. Leiden: Brill, 2005. 139-67.
  • "Shakespeare Revivifications: Early Modern Undead." Shakespeare Studies XXXII (Fall 2004): 40-66.
  • Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage. Ed. Stephanie Moss and Kaara L. Peterson. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.
  • "Performing Arts: Hysterical Disease, Exorcism, and Shakespeare's Theater." Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage. 3-30.
  • "Framing Ophelia: Representation and the Pictorial Tradition." Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 31.3 (September 1998): 1-24. Reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism Yearbook 1998. A Selection of the Year's Most Noteworthy Studies of William Shakespeare's Plays and Poetry 48. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000.
  • Theater reviews, Boston-area productions, Cahiers Élisabéthains: A Biannual Journal of English Renaissance Studies

Grants and Awards

  • Oxford University, Plumer Visiting Research Fellow and Visiting Fellow, Centre for Early Modern Studies, Spring 2019.
  • Research Grant, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, UK (2016)
  • Fellow, Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard University (Spring 2013)
  • Visiting Fellow, Joan Nordell Visiting Fellowship, Houghton Library, Harvard University (Fall 2006)
  • Summer Seminar Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, "Literature and the Visual Arts," Richard Wendorf, director, Summer Seminar (2004)

Work in Progress

Professor Peterson is currently working on a new project about the construction of virginity in the age of Elizabethan art, medicine, and culture, in addition to compiling the comprehensive volume Ophelia: A Visual-Cultural History.