I received my PhD in 2013 in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. From 2013 to 2016, I held a fixed-term post as a Teaching Fellow in this same department. I am currently living in Berlin researching and writing my first monograph: Shakespeare’s Influence on Karl Marx: The Shakespearean Roots of Marxism.
My doctoral thesis, Shakespeare’s Influence on Marx, Freud and the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists (2013), which was supervised by Jonathan Bate and Thomas Docherty and examined by John Drakakis, explores the influence of Shakespeare’s plays on Marxism, psychoanalysis and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. I traced the influence of Shakespeare’s plays on the development of Marx’s and Freud’s writings and how that influence formed the roots of 20th century Critical Theory. I am currently writing a monograph, Shakespeare’s Influence on Karl Marx: The Shakespearean Roots of Marxism. I have published some of my research in Shakespeare journals, translation journals and Critical Theory journals. Please see my publications page.
Shakespeare and Marx
My current postdoctoral research is focused primarily on my first monograph about Shakespeare’s influence on Marx. My methodology is bilingual and intertextual close reading of Shakespeare’s plays and Marx’s texts where he quotes, alludes to or works with Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare’s lines, imagery and plots show up in significant locations in Marx’s texts and in the development of his thinking. I am re-reading Marxism from its Shakespearean roots. I map the development of Marx’s thinking from his adolescence when he is first introduced to Shakespeare by Ludwig von Westphalen and his daughter Jenny – who will become Marx’s wife and lifelong collaborator – to the moment when he becomes a Left Hegelian on the banks of the Spree in Berlin, to his transformation into a communist on the Left Bank of the Seine. Shakespeare plays a significant role in these two transformations. I explore the role of Marx’s use of Shakespeare in his radicalisation of Hegel’s dialectical philosophy and his first political writings to expose the role of Prussia in the Mosel Valley Wine crisis. I show how Marx’s use of Shakespeare helped him work out his economic critique and write his political positions and his critique of history. I also look at Marx’s use of Shakespeare for his vituperative attacks on his political enemies. Throughout the book, I set out a model for the influence from Shakespeare to Marx, which includes the role of Shakespeare’s German translators and of other writers such as Laurence Sterne, Heinrich Heine and E.T. A. Hoffmann, who also influenced Marx and serve as models for Shakespearean intertextuality.
Shakespeare and the Dialectic
Two other postdoctoral research projects have developed out of my effort on this book. The first one is the search for the ground through which the influence travelled. During my doctoral research, I found evidence that the history of the dialectic, from its Classical form – a voluntary method of philosophical exploration – into its Hegelian form – the force by which meaning expresses itself through history – might serve as a common ground, a shared formal substrate, a condition of possibility through which the influence could occur. A feature of the ground is that, as a field of shared concerns and similar methodology, it facilitates the authority of one text to act as an influence on another. One of the central tasks of my postdoctoral research is to situate Shakespeare’s plays in the history of the dialectic and to write a theory of influence that can be useful to understand the pathway by which literature has influenced contemporary theory. What is at stake in this question is a critique of the form of theory. Far from being closed systems of thought, Marxism and psychoanalysis come alive in their Shakespearean intertextuality set in the modern dialectic. Their theoretical development, contradictions and attempts to resolve those contradictions become apparent when one reads Marxism and psychoanalysis through their Shakespearean quotations, allusions and paradigma. Some of the energy of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, built from a critique of Marxism and psychoanalysis, is sourced from this literary intertextuality.
The second project that has emerged from my primary research is an exploration of the translations that Marx and Freud read. I have set the Shakespearean influence on Marx’s and Freud’s writings in the context of the German Romantic and nineteenth-century engagement with Shakespeare. Some of the influence begins with the translation choices made by the German Romantic translators August and Caroline Schlegel, Ludwig and Dorothea Tieck and Wolf Graf von Baudissin. Their translation project began in the 1790s and continued until completion in 1833. I am especially interested in Dorothea Tieck’s work. Her name was not listed as translator on this project until 1906. My research has found that some of the translation choices made by Dorothea Tieck may have influenced the manner in which Marx, Freud and Bertolt Brecht read Shakespeare and, in that manner, she can be seen as having an influence on the development of German theory.
I collaborated with Shakespearean and Critical Theorist Hugh Grady (Arcadia) in a re-reading of Marxist Shakespeare Studies. We edited a special ‘Karl Marx’ issue of Shakespeare journal for 2018, the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth. We convened a seminar titled “Marxist Shakespeare/ Shakespearean Marx” at the 2015 Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting and read papers about how Shakespeare influenced Marx at a special session with Jean E. Howard at the 2016 MLA Conference. I also convened a seminar titled “Socialist Shakespeares: Theory, Practice and Politics” at the 2016 World Shakespeare Congress in Stratford-upon-Avon and London with Louise Geddes (Adelphi).
2019 begins a new collaboration on Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis, which will research Shakespeare’s influence on psychoanalysis and use the findings for a re-reading of Psychoanalytic Shakespeare Studies. Similar to my my Marxism work, this collaboration will also propose panels and seminars to various Shakespeare conferences. The collaborative group organised a symposium titled, “New Directions in Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis” at Case Western Reserve University in Feb 2020. We are co-facilitating a seminar on Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis at the 2021 World Shakespeare Congress in Singapore. I am co-editing an edited volume on Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis with James W. Stone.
I am also collaborating with Miguel Ramalhete Gomes (Porto) and Reme Pernish (Alicante) to convene the seminar “You must needs be strangers: Shakespeare and the Scenography of Mobility” at the 2017 conference of the European Shakespeare Research Association in Gdańsk, Poland. We are working together again to develop a panel that will apply the World Literature notion of Combined and Uneven Development to Shakespeare Studies, at ESRA 2019 in Rome. The panel is titled: “In dark uneven way”; Mapping Europe through World Systems Theory: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Camões.”
I am organising a project that derives political activism from Shakespeare Studies. I read papers on this topic at the 2018 British Shakespeare Association conference in Belfast and at the 2018 Kingston Shakespeare conference on Presentism. I am writing a paper titled, “The point is to change it”: The Activist Imperative in Literary Studies, for a Special Edition on “From Theory to Activism”, Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses.
I am currently looking for postdoctoral funding to help me carry out my postdoctoral research and complete my monograph. Please see my funding page on this website.
I am also looking for a post in a university. Please see my CV on this website.
I have received feedback from hiring committees that view my CV saying that some people are confused by my life and career trajectory. Some think that the fact that I have degrees and have worked in four fields is evidence of “cherry-picking” or “indecision”. This is exactly the opposite of the truth. Every academic and career move that I have made has been logically determined from the step before it. Here is the story of my scholarship and work history:
In 1981, I entered university as a premedical student in the Department of Kinesiology (Physiological Sciences) at the University of California, Los Angeles. My primary interest was in orthopaedic medicine. In June 1983, I was hit by a car, which broke bones in my legs and sent me into the care of an orthopaedic doctor. During my treatment, I came to realise that there was a huge discrepancy between what I was learning in orthopaedic research and what my doctor was doing for my legs. I was disillusioned and sought alternative care. I found treatments in bodywork that were closer in practice to what the contemporary orthopaedic research was suggesting. With this information, and after taking a class on principles of Wholistic Medicine at UCLA, I decided to learn bodywork. I began my training at the Massage School of Santa Monica and was soon working as a qualified bodyworker. When I graduated from UCLA with a BS in Kinesiology, I was hired to teach physiology and anatomy at the Massage School of Santa Monica. I worked there for fourteen years. I also taught at the Bodymind Institute and delivered workshops in bodywork through my own school. My study of and career in somatic studies/bodywork has continued throughout all of my life. Even now, when I am living and studying in Berlin, I am using my bodywork practice to fund my postdoctoral studies. I have a freelance visa from the German government to do bodywork in Berlin. See the link to my bodywork business on the Links page.
During my work as a bodyworker in the mid-80s, it became clear to me that much of the functioning of the body is affected by mental and emotional states. I found that psychology and physiology stand in a co-determining relationship to each other. I realised that to treat the physical body without treating psychological functioning was not effective. I began to read research in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) and decided to get trained in bodymind therapy. I first trained at the Bodymind Institute, Los Angeles, where I later taught as well. Then I returned to university to study for a Masters of Science in Psychology (Marriage, Family and Child Counseling). I finished my classes in two years, but spent four more years researching for my dissertation, which I finished in 1996. The reason for this length of time was because, as I worked through the research in psychology, it became apparent to me that the individual is an artificial unit. Instead, subjects are socially-constructed and psychology needs to be set in a social context in order to be accurate in its research and effective in its treatment. My research led me to discover a form of therapy that existed in California in the late 60s and early 70s called Radical Therapy. The founders blended Marxism, feminism and anti-psychiatry with Transactional Analysis and aspects of other therapies such a Reichian work and humanistic therapy. However, they never wrote a theory for their work, and most of them stopped doing Radical Therapy by 1980. I decided to pick up where they left off and write a Marxist-based Radical Therapy as my Masters dissertation. I had been studying Marxism since 1983, so I had a basis in dialectical materialism. During the four years that it took me to do this research and write the thesis, it became clear to me that working with individual clients in a bodymind practice was not adequate to handle the socially-constructed problems faced by individuals in history. I also became interested in the development of subjectivity. I now faced a new contradiction that would propel me to expand my scholarship into a further field.
By the mid-90s, I had a study and practice in somatics combined with psychology. I wanted to study for my doctorate in a field that allowed me to situate the individual in society and history. I considered sociology, history and political science, but none of these fields investigated the topic in a manner that I found effective or deep enough. I knew that I needed a practice in which I could work with people in community. I ended up training to be a secondary school teacher. (This came about partly because I had lost a lot of money in a failed business venture – I tried to open my own bodywork school – and needed a secure-paying job.) I got a teaching job working in an impoverished Latino neighbourhood close to where I grew up. My students were individuals with learning disabilities and emotional disturbances. They were the victims of poverty and racism. Many were on their way to becoming members of street gangs. I researched and practiced student-centred pedagogy in this school. Later, I moved to another school also in an impoverished area. As part of my job, I had to teach the students English and literature. This led me to discover literary criticism, and then Critical Theory. It was in Critical Theory that I finally found the methodology that I was looking for to understand subjectivity from a historical and dialectic materialist position. I decided to apply to read for a doctorate in Critical Theory.
I had already been studying Marxism since 1983 and psychoanalysis since 1987. During my years teaching secondary school English, I read Shakespeare and found that he depicted many of the notions that I learned from Marx. I decided that I wanted to study Shakespeare as a Marxist writer. I moved to the U.K. to study for my Masters in English and then my PhD at the University of Warwick. My first doctoral supervisor, Jonathan Bate, helped me turn around my anachronistic view of Shakespeare and Marx; he suggested that instead of looking at Shakespeare as a Marxist, I could look at Marx as a Shakespearean. Then he suggested that I also look at Freud as a Shakespearean and further, since some of the roots of literary criticism stood in Marxism and psychoanalysis, I could investigate how literary criticism was Shakespearean. We then asked Thomas Docherty if he would co-supervise my thesis. Docherty helped me to sharpen the focus of the end point of my research from literary criticism in general to Critical Theory specifically. My final scholarly and career move was ready to begin.
There is no contradiction or disjointedness between my four fields – somatics, psychology, pedagogy and Critical Theory. They were derived logically from each other, and they co-inform each other. The journey through these fields took a long time and account for the reason why I am an early career researcher in Critical Theory and Shakespeare Studies at 56 years old. I am hoping that future committees can see this without prejudice.