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William N. West

Associate Professor in English and Comparative Literary Studies; Chair of the Department of Classics

Ph.D. University of Michigan
  • 847-467-1345
  • University Hall 306/Kresge 4-305
  • Office Hours: Mondays 10-11 & Tuesdays 11-12 in UH; Fridays 10-12 in Kresge


Poetry & Poetics, Theatre & Drama, Early Modern, Classical/Biblical


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.

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