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  • Henry S. Turner
  • Vice President for Academic Initiatives
  • Professor of English
  • At Rutgers Since: 2007
  • Click for Personal Website
  • hsturner@rutgers.edu
  • Phone Number: (848) 932-5254
  • Office:

    306A, Old Queens Building, 83 Somerset Street, College Ave Campus

    Murray Hall, Room 053, College Ave Campus

  • Office Hours:

    By appointment via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  • Primary Areas of Specialization:

    Early Modern Literature; Literature and Science; Literature and Intellectual History; Literature and Law; Literature and Philosophy 

  • Field of Interest: Drama & Performance Studies, Early Modern, Seventeenth Century, Theory
  • About:

    Henry S. Turner is a specialist in Renaissance literature, with a focus on the theater of Jonson, Shakespeare, and their contemporaries and on intellectual history, especially relations between literature and science, literature and political thought, and literature and philosophy. He is currently writing a book on ideas of experience and the "world" in Shakespeare and in American pragmatism with Jane Hwang Degenhardt (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) tentatively entitled The Shakespearean Horizon: Worlds Upon Worlds in the Renaissance and Today. The book explores pluralistic understandings of the concept of "world" in Shakespeare's plays as a means to imagining alternatives to globalization and an anthropocentric future. A co-written essay from the book on how concepts of experience, race and region inform Shakespeare's response to early globalization in the Comedy of Errors has recently appeared in the journal Exemplaria; an essay on fiction, dreams, and experience in A Midsummer Night's Dream is forthcoming in a special issue of SEL: Studies in English Literature devoted to "World, Globe, Planet." More details about past, current, and future work may be found at www.henrysturner.com.

    Professor Turner is the author of three monographs on Renaissance literature and culture. The Corporate Commonwealth: Pluralism and Political Fictions in England, 1516-1651 (University of Chicago Press, 2016), traces the history of the corporation as a political institution and political idea from Thomas More’s Utopia to Sir Thomas Smith's writings on commonwealth and colonialism, Richard Hooker's corporate theology, Richard Hakluyt's account of the early joint-stock companies, the comedy of Thomas Dekker and the Roman tragedies of Shakespeare, Francis Bacon's ontology of nature, and Thomas Hobbes’s pragmatic theory of representation in Leviathan, with a Coda on the university as a corporate idea. The Corporate Commonwealth shows how the corporation addressed problems of group life that formed the core of political philosophy from its inception: relations between the one and the many, the nature of sovereignty, administration and constitutions, justice as an adjudication among competing systems of value, the nature of group “personhood” and group action. The Corporate Commonwealth was awarded the 2017 Elizabeth Dietz Prize for the best book in English Renaissance Studies and Honorable Mention for the 2017 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History.

    Professor Turner's second monograph, Shakespeare’s Double Helix (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2008), juxtaposes a reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the history of genetics and contemporary debates over genetic engineering and theories of the posthuman. His first book, The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry Poetics, and the Practical Spatial Arts, 1580-1630 (Oxford, 2006), places the history of theater into the rich culture of early scientific thought in England, showing how poets and playwrights borrowed some of their most important ideas about form and representation from the fields of geometry, mathematics, and cartography. In 2007, The English Renaissance Stage was awarded Honorable Mention for the best book of the year in literature and science by the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts.

    Professor Turner has also edited a large-scale collection of essays on Early Modern Theatricality (Oxford, 2013), a collection on literature, economics, science, and urban history entitled The Culture of Capital: Property, Cities, and Knowledge in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2002), and a special double issue of Configurations: Journal of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts 17.1–2 (Winter 2009) on “Mathematics and the Imagination” (with Arielle Saiber). He recently edited Ben Jonson's Poetaster for the Routledge Anthology of Early Modern Drama, ed. Jeremy Lopez. His articles, essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in Annals of Science, Configurations, differences, ELH, Isis, JEMCS, Nano, postmedieval, Public Books, Renaissance Drama, Renaissance Quarterly, Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Studies, South Central Review, and The Spenser Review, as well as in a wide range of edited collections. He has served on the Editorial Board of Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, Exemplaria, and The Hare, as Book Review editor for The Upstart Crow (2005-09) and Configurations (2005-6), and on the Editorial Board of the book series “Edinburgh Critical Studies in Shakespeare and Philosophy” (Edinburgh University Press). In 2008, he chaired the Executive Committee for the MLA Division of Literature and Science (2004-09). With Mary Thomas Crane, he is the series co-editor for Alembics: Penn Studies in LIterature and Science (Penn Press), which publishes ground-breaking work in literature and science from the classical period to the present. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and by a Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, taken in residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.  

    At Rutgers, Professor Turner is the Vice President for Academic Initiatives, where he guides research strategy, interdisciplinary initatives, and faculty advancement in the office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. From 2018-2020 he was the inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Humanities and Arts, and he is a former Director of the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA), a leading institute for advanced interdisciplinary research in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences at Rutgers, New Brunswick. He also coordinates EMRG @ RU: The Early Modern Research Group at Rutgers, an interdisciplinary research program on the period 1400-1700 that is currently sited at the CCA (formerly the Program in Early Modern Studies) and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Race and Early Modern World Working Group at the CCA. In the English Department, he has taught undergraduate courses on Renaissance comedy and social life, poetry and poetics in English, French Structuralism and its legacy, and philosophies of the human. At the graduate level, he has taught seminars on early modern literature and science, on literature and political thought, on early modern theatricality, and on Ben Jonson. He supervises graduate students in all of these areas.

  • Book(s):
  • Undergraduate Courses Taught:
    • "Introduction to Literary Study: Poetry"
    • "Dekker, Middleton, Jonson, and the Drama of Everyday Life"
    • "French Structuralism and its Legacy"
    • "What is the Human?"
  • Graduate Courses Taught:
    • "Ben Jonson"
    • "Early Modern Theatricality"
    • "The Meaning of Life: Determining the Human and Beyond"
    • "Imagining Science in Early Modern England"
    • "The Early Modern Political Imagination"
  • Awards:
    • Elizabeth Dietz Memorial Award for The Corporate Commonwealth for the best book in English Renaissance Studies, awarded by SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (2017)

    • Honorable Mention for The Corporate Commonwealth for the Barnard Hewitt Award, awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research for Outstanding Research in Theatre History (2017)

    • Grant-in-aid, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2017-18

    • ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars. 2012-13 residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

    • M. H. Abrams Fellowship, National Humanities Center. 2010-11

    • Honorable Mention, Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize, awarded to The English Renaissance Stage, 2007

    • Graduate Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006

    • National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, 2004-5
  • Membership Affiliations:
    • Member, Modern Language Association
    • Member, Shakespeare Association of America
    • Member, Renaissance Society of America
    • Member, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Other Publications:
    • Jane Hwang Degenhardt and Henry S. Turner, "Between Worlds in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors," Exemplaria 33.2 (2021): 158-83.

    • Pragmatism, Race, and the Collective Subject in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors,” The Rambling 3. January, 2019. A special issue devoted to work from the Folger Shakespeare Library seminar on “Race and Gender in Early Modern Studies.” Ed. Carol Mejia-LaPerle.

    • Recent Studies in Tudor and Stuart Drama.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 58.2 (2018): 473-537.

    • Love Your Corporation.” Special issue of American Book Review and electronic book review on “Corporate Fictions,” ed. Jeffrey DiLeo and Joseph Tabbi. Jan-Feb. 2017: 4, 13.

    • Corporate Persons, Between Law and Literature.” The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature1500-1700. Ed. Lorna Hutson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). 467-84.  The Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700 received the 2017 Roland H. Bainton Reference Book Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.

    • “Corporation.” Dictionary of the Possible. A special issue of Shifter Magazine, ed. Avi Alpert and Sreshta Rit Premnath. Issue 22 (2016): 47-50. 

    • The Society for the Arts of Corporation: An Invitation.” postmedieval 6.4 (2016): 485-90. Special issue on “Critical/Liberal/Arts,” ed. Allan Mitchell, Julie Orlemanski, and Myra Seaman.

    • “Shakespeare, Fiction, and the Ghost of the Public University.” Shakespeare in Our Time: Essays from the SAA. Ed. Dympna Callaghan and Suzanne Gossett (London: Arden / Bloomsbury, 2016). 289-93.

    • “Corporate Life in Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday.” Historical Affects and the Early Modern Theater, ed. Ronda Arab, Michelle Dowd, and Adam Zucker (New York: Routledge, 2015). 182-97.

    • “Generalization.” In Early Modern Theatricality, ed. Henry S. Turner. Oxford 21st Century Approaches (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). 1-23.
  • Other Information of Interest:
  • Education:

    PhD, Columbia University
    MA, University of Sussex, Brighton
    Diplôme Supérieur d’Etudes Françaises, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
    BA, Wesleyan University