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Christopher Crosbie

Assoc Professor

Department of English

Tompkins Hall 201


Christopher Crosbie specializes in Shakespeare and other dramatists of the English Renaissance.  Particularly interested in the ways in which classical and early modern philosophies find expression on the popular stage, Dr. Crosbie has published articles on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in journals such as Shakespeare QuarterlyEnglish Literary Renaissance, Renaissance Papers, Renascence, and Arthuriana.  He has received the Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society (2015) and the J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize from the Shakespeare Association of America (2008).  His first book, Revenge Tragedy and Classical Philosophy on the Early Modern Stage, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2019.

His current book project, tentatively titled Shakespeare and the Ethics of Intention, examines the ethical demands the unknowable intentions of others put on moral agents in Shakespearean drama.  A study that considers the Renaissance stage a unique space for engaging in a kind of practically-minded, vernacular ethical philosophy, this book scrutinizes the theater’s role in reconfiguring the Aristotelian concepts of voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary action in post-Reformation moral thought.  By rendering the intentions of others a crucial component of one’s own ethical disposition, such reconfiguration helped create the positive conditions for a renewed, if imperfectly enacted, understanding of social toleration.

An avid theatergoer, Dr. Crosbie focuses his classes in equal measure on the philosophical contexts and performative possibilities of early modern drama.

Selected Publications


Revenge Tragedy and Classical Philosophy on the Early Modern Stage (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).

Reviewed by James A. Knapp, Modern Philology, 117.4 (2020), pp. 237-239.

Reviewed by Gretchen E. Minton, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, 33 (2020), pp. 322-324.

Book Introduction: On Revenge Tragedy and the Shaping Influence of Classical Philosophy

Book Chapter 3: “‘A fine pate full of fine dirt:’Hamlet Among the Atomists


“Aristotelian Time, Ethics, and the Art of Persuasion in Shakespeare’s Henry V,” The Times They Are A-changin’: Temporal Shifts in Early Modern Drama, special issue of Literature2023.

Dynamis and Energeia: Potentiality and Actuality in Shakespearean Drama,” Shakespeare and Virtue: A Handbook, ed. Julia Lupton and Donovan Sherman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 2023.

“’Strange Serious Wantoning:’ Early Modern Chess Manuals and the Ethics of Virtuous Subterfuge,” Renaissance Papers, ed. Jim Pearce and Ward J. Risvold (Boydell & Brewer, 2022)

Shakespeare, Intention, and the Ethical Force of the Involuntary,” The Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy, ed. Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick Bourne (New York: Routledge, 2018).

Refashioning Fable through the Baconian Essay: De sapientia veterum and Mythologies of the Early Modern Natural Philosopher,” The Essay: Forms and Transformations, ed. Dorothea Flothow, Sabine Coelsch-Foisner, and Markus Oppolzer (Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter, 2017).

The State of the Art: Current Critical Approaches to The Revenger’s Tragedy,” The Revenger’s Tragedy: A Critical Reader, ed. Brian Walsh (London: Bloomsbury Arden, 2016), 73-99.

Publicizing the Science of God: Milton’s Raphael and the Boundaries of Knowledge,” Renascence 67.4 (2015), 239-260.

The Comedy of ErrorsHaecceity, and the Metaphysics of Individuation,” Renaissance Papers, ed. Jim Pearce and Joanna Kucinski (Boydell & Brewer, 2014), 101-113.

The Longleat Manuscript Reconsidered: Shakespeare and the Sword of Lath.” English Literary Renaissance 44.2 (2014): 221-240.  (Recipient of the 2015 Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society)

Francis Bacon and Aristotelian Afterlives.” A Companion to British Literature, ed. Robert DeMaria Jr., Heesok Chang, and Samantha Zacher, vol 2. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), 231-248.

Oeconomia and the Vegetative Soul: Rethinking Revenge in The Spanish Tragedy.” English Literary Renaissance 38.1 (2008): 3-33. 

Fixing Moderation: Titus Andronicus and the Aristotelian Determination of Value.” Shakespeare Quarterly 58.2 (2007): 147-173.

Selected Awards / Distinctions

Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies, Medieval & Renaissance Drama Society, 2015

Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award, 2010-2011

College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, 2010-2011

Lonnie and Carol Poole Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2009-2010

Folger Shakespeare Library Short-term Fellowship, 2009-2010

J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize, Shakespeare Association of America, 2008

Selected Courses


ENG 558 Revenge, Reconciliation, and Redemption in Shakespearean Drama
ENG 582 Early Modern Revenge Tragedy
ENG 588 Shakespeare Among the Philosophers
ENG 558 Shakespeare and His Contemporaries
ENG 558 Shakespeare and the Question of Intention


ENG 498 Shakespeare’s Aristotle
ENG 486 Early Shakespeare: Authorship, Ambition, and Authority
ENG 487 Late Shakespeare: Betrayal and Banishment in Shakespearean Drama
ENG 209 Introduction to Shakespeare: Protean Shakespeares
HON 202 Shakespeare and Philosophy (University Honors Program)
HON 293 Early Modern Revenge Tragedy (University Honors Program)

Selected Service

Folger Institute Executive Committee, Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Institute Application Review Committee, Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Liaison, North Carolina State University
Renaissance Society of America Fellowships Committee
President, Southeastern Renaissance Conference
Founder, Shakespeare at State & Friends of Shakespeare, NC State University

Extension and Community Engagement

Interested in supporting Shakespearean performance and study here at NC State? Join Friends of Shakespeare!

Teaching Shakespeare or currently in a class? Check out my Shakespeare Media Archive for performances and other helpful material.

Additional Profiles

Google Scholar


Ph.D. English Rutgers University

Area(s) of Expertise

Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Ethics, Aristotle, and the Reception of Classical Philosophy