William N. West Associate Professor in English and Comparative Literary Studies; Chair of the Department of Classics

Will West (Ph.D., University of Michigan) studies, teaches, and thinks about early modern drama, poetry, and prose. He has taught undergraduate courses on Shakespeare's theater of the senses; the book of love; poetics and aesthetics from Aristotle to Kant; the story collection from ancient India to modern England; and many other topics.

West is the author of Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge UP, 2002; pbk. 2006) and, As If: Essays in As You Like It (punctum, 2016).  He has recently written articles or chapters on Aby Warburg and the detail; the life cycles of early modern players across Europe; on theater as the creation of contexts; and other possibilities within Romeo and Juliet. He contributed a short history of encyclopedias before the Enlightenment to the 2013 Venice Biennale catalog and a set of glosses to the Folger Luminary Shakespeare iPad application on A Midsummer Night's Dream.  In addition he has co-edited (with Helen Higbee) Robert Weimann's book Author's Pen and Actor's Voice: Writing and Playing in Shakespeare's Theatre (Cambridge UP, 2000) and (with Bryan Reynolds) a collection of essays honoring Weimann, Rematerializing Shakespeare: Authority and Representation on the Early Modern Stage (Palgrave, 2005).

In 2007 West was awarded a place on the ASG Faculty Honor Roll. In 2012-13 he was an NEH Fellow at the Huntington Library, and in 2015 he was an Invited Professor at the École Normale Superieure-Lyon.  In 2016 he presented the Dan S. Collins Lecture at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies.  He is currently a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America and chair of the Department of Classics at Northwestern.

With Jeffrey Masten, West is the co-editor of the journal Renaissance Drama (University of Chicago Press). He is currently at work on a book called Understanding and Confusion in the Elizabethan Theaters and on a project reconsidering the Renaissance philology of Angelo Poliziano.

The Poetry & Poetics Colloquium at Northwestern University


As If: Essays in "As You Like It"
As If: Essays in "As You Like It" (punctum books, 2016)
Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe
Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Recent Publications

  • “In the Detail.”  thresholds 1 (2017)
  • “Communities of Production: Lives in and out of the Theater.” A Cultural History of the Theatre.  Vol. 3: The Early Modern Age.  Ed. Robert Henke.  London: Bloomsbury (2017): 127-46.
  • “Essays of Virtue, Essays of Bias: As You Like It as Shakespeare’s Essays.”  New Perspectives on Shakespeare’s As You Like It.  Eds. Sophie Chiari, Sophie Lemercier-Goddard, and Michèle Vignaux.  Clermont-Ferrand: Presses Universitaires Blaise-Pascal (2017): 149-58.
  • “Playing in Context, Playing out Context.”  Shakespeare In Our Time: A Shakespeare Association of America Collection.  Eds. Dympna Callaghan and Suzanne Gossett.  London: Bloomsbury Arden (2016): 206-10.
  • “Romeo and Juliet’s Understudies.” Romeo and Juliet: A Critical Reader. Ed. Julia Reinhard Lupton. London: Bloomsbury Arden (2016): 133-51.
  • “Entertainments: Baiting, Dances, Contests.” In The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare. Vol. 1. Shakespeare’s World, 1500-1660. General ed. Bruce R. Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2016): 148-155.
  • “Encircling Knowledge.” Renaissance Quarterly 68 (2015): 1327-40.
  • “Dreams, Woods, Playhouses, and Other Worlds.”  Folger Luminary Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Ed. Ellen Mackay.  Notre Dame, IN: Luminary Digital Media, 2013.  iPad Application.
  • “Encyclopedias before L’Encyclopédie/ Le enciclopedie prima dell’Encyclopédie.”  The Encyclopedic Palace/ Il Palazzo Enciclopedico.  Catalogue of the 55th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia.  Ed. Massimiliano Gioni.  Venice: Marsilio Editore (2013): 43-44.
  • “Intertheatricality.”  Early Modern Theatricality (Oxford Twenty-first Century Approaches to Literature).  Ed. Henry S. Turner.  Oxford: Oxford University Press (2013): 151-172.
  • “Irony and Encyclopedic Writing Before (and After) the Enlightenment.”  In Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance.  Eds. Jason König and Greg Woolf.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2013): 482-502.
  • With Gina Bloom and Anston Bosman.  “Ophelia’s Intertheatricality, or, How Performance is History.”  Theatre Journal 65 (2013): 165-82.