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, more recently, articles or chapters on intertheatricality, that is, how performance reflects on its own histories (Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Early Modern Theatricality, 2013; Theatre Journal, 2013); irony and encyclopedic writing before and after the Enlightenment; and humanism and the resistance to theology (in The Return of Theory in Early Modern Studies, 2011). 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.  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


Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe
Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Recent Publications

  • “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.
  • “Humanism and the Resistance to Theology.”  The Return of Theory in Early Modern Studies.  Eds. Paul Cefalu and Bryan Reynolds.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2011): 167-91.
  • “Author’s Voice? Acting with Authority in Early References to Shakespeare.”  The Shakespearean International Yearbook 10 (2010): 93-118.
  • “Replaying Early Modern Drama.”  In New Directions in Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies.  Ed. Sarah Werner.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2010): 30-50.