Michelle Dowd

Michelle M. Dowd

Hudson Strode Professor of English
Director, Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies


  • PhD, English, Columbia University, 2003
  • BA, English, University of Rochester, 1997

Research Areas

  • Renaissance Literature


Michelle Dowd is Hudson Strode Professor of English and Director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies.  She received her BA summa cum laude from the University of Rochester in 1997 and her PhD from Columbia University in 2003.  She specializes in early modern literature, with concentrations in Tudor and Stuart drama, Shakespeare, and early modern women’s writing. Her additional teaching and research interests include early modern theater culture, dramatic genres, feminist theory and gender studies, economic criticism, and early modern religious culture.

Professor Dowd’s first book, Women’s Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (Palgrave, 2009), won the Sara A. Whaley Book Award from the National Women’s Studies Association. Her most recent book, The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage (Cambridge, 2015) offers a new understanding of how the theater, England’s most vibrant cultural institution in the Renaissance, shaped attitudes about primogeniture, one of the country’s most longstanding economic systems. She has held fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Huntington Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (at the Newberry Library).

Current projects include two book-length studies, one on representations of work in Shakespeare’s plays, and another, Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Future of Literary History, co-authored with Lara Dodds. Professor Dowd also edits a book series, Strode Studies in Early Modern Literature and Culture, published by the University of Alabama Press.

Before coming to Alabama, Professor Dowd taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and at Fordham University.

Selected Publications


  • The Arden Handbook of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama: Perspectives on Culture, Performance and Identity, ed. with Tom Rutter. Bloomsbury/Arden Press, 2023.
  • Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing: Readings, Conversations, Pedagogies, ed. with Lara Dodds. University of Nebraska Press, 2022.
  • The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage. Cambridge University Press, 2015
  • Historical Affects and the Early Modern Theater, ed. with Ronda Arab and Adam Zucker. Routledge, 2015.
  • Early Modern Women on the Fall: An Anthology, ed. with Thomas Festa. Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2012.
  • Working Subjects in Early Modern English Drama, ed. with Natasha Korda. Ashgate, 2011.
  • Women’s Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England, ed. with Julie A. Eckerle. Ashgate, 2007.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Untimely Developments: Periodization, Early Modern Women’s Writing, and Literary History.” Invited chapter for The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Women’s Writing in English, 1540-1700, ed. Danielle Clarke, Sarah C.E. Ross, and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, 735-48. Oxford University Press, 2022.
  • “Exquisitely Compatible: Blending Feminism and Formalism in the Classroom.” Part of a special issue of “Teaching Early Modern Women Writers Today,” edited by Liza Blake. Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (SMART) 28.2 (2021):  31-40.
  • “Risky Business: Con Artists, Speculation, and Inheritance in Early Modern English Drama.” Part of a special issue on “Inheritance Law and Literature” edited by Beth Cortese and Jakob Ladegaard. Law and Literature 35.1 (Published online 8 April 2021; print publication 2023): 11-29. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1535685X.2021.1902637
  • “Happy Accidents: Critical Belatedness, Feminist Formalism, and Early Modern Women’s Writing.” Co-authored with Lara Dodds. Criticism 62.2 (2020): 169-93.
  • “Shakespeare and Genre Studies.”  In The Arden Research Handbook of Contemporary Shakespeare Criticism, ed. Evelyn Gajowski, 38-50. London: Bloomsbury/Arden Press, 2020.
  • “Breaking Form in Early Modern Literary Studies.”  Invited essay for the 50th Anniversary issue of English Literary Renaissance. 50.1 (2020): 40-6.
  • “Judith Shakespeare’s Brother.”  Modern Language Quarterly 80.1 (2019): 51-74.
  • “So like an old tale”: Staging Inheritance and the Lost Child in Shakespeare’s Romances.” In Staged Normality in Shakespeare’s England, ed. Rory Loughnane and Edel Semple, 173-92.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
  • “Gender and Genre: Shakespeare’s Comic Women.”  In The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy, ed. Heather Hirschfeld, 328-41. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  • “The Case for a Feminist Return to Form.” Co-authored with Lara Dodds. Forum on “Rethinking Methodologies for Early Modern Women’s Studies.” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 13.1 (2018): 82-91.
  • “Navigating the Future of Early Modern Women’s Writing: Pedagogy, Feminism, and Literary Theory.” In Gendered Temporalities in the Early Modern World, ed. Merry Wiesner-Hanks. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.  261-82.
  • “Dramaturgy and the Politics of Space in The Tragedy of Mariam.” Renaissance Drama 44.1 (2016): 101-22.
  • “Afterword.”  Special Issue on “Women’s Writing/Women’s Work in Early Modernity.” Early Modern Studies Journal 6 (2014): 194-202.
  • “A Gentleman May Wander: Inheritance, Travel, and the Prodigal Son on the Jacobean Stage.” Renaissance Drama 42.1 (2014): 113-37.
  • “Shakespeare’s Sleeping Workers.”  Shakespeare Studies 41 (2013): 148-76.
  • “Genealogical Counternarratives in the Writings of Mary Carey.” Modern Philology 109.4 (2012): 440-64.
  • “The Devotional Writings of Dorothy Calthorpe” (with Julie A. Eckerle).  ANQ 24.1-2 (2011): 89-98.
  • “‘Order plays the soul’: Anne Clifford, The Temple, and the Spiritual Logic of Housework.” In George Herbert’s Travels: International Print and Cultural Legacies, ed. Christopher Hodgkins.  Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011.  59-77.
  • “Recent Studies in Early Modern Life Writing” (with Julie A. Eckerle). English Literary Renaissance 40.1 (2010): 132-62.
  • “Shakespeare and Work.” Literature Compass 7.3 (2010): 185-94.
  • “Delinquent Pedigrees: Revision, Lineage, and Spatial Rhetoric in The Duchess of Malfi.” English Literary Renaissance 39.3 (2009): 499-526.
  • “Labors of Love: Women, Marriage, and Service in Twelfth Night and The Compleat Servant-Maid.” Shakespearean International Yearbook 5 (2005): 103-26.
  • “Leaning Too Hard Upon the Pen: Suburb Wenches and City Wives in Westward Ho.” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 15 (2003): 224-42.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Marilyn Williams Elmore and John Durr Elmore Endowed Professorship, 2023-2026
  • Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender Award for Best Article for “Happy Accidents: Critical Belatedness, Feminist Formalism, and Early Modern Women’s Writing,” co-authored with Lara Dodds, 2021
  • Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Award for Best Teaching Edition for Early Modern Women on the Fall: An Anthology, 2013
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Newberry Library, 2012-2013
  • Sara A. Whaley Book Award from the National Women’s Studies Association for Women’s Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, 2009
  • Grant-in-Aid, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2001 and 2009
  • Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Long-Term Fellowship, Huntington Library, 2006-2007
  • Center for Humanistic Inquiry Fellowship, Emory University, 2006-2007 (declined)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 1997-1998