Steve Curtis

English Literature PhD student (part time), Completed 2012

I completed my undergraduate degree at Bangor University back in 2000 and then took some time away from the academic world whilst my wife was studying. Her studies led us to Lancaster and in 2003/2004 I carried out the MA in Shakespeare and Cultural Theory. My MA thesis was an investigation into Shakespeare’s representation of ghosts, particularly in connection to contemporary ideas of Purgatory and demonology. I began my Phd research in 2005 and have been working part-time since then. I have always found the department to be an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating place in which to carry out research, with helpful and friendly academic and administrative staff. I look after my toddler daughter alongside my research and the department has always been supportive in the pastoral issues that inevitably arise from juggling family and academic commitments.

My Phd thesis is provisionally titled ‘Blood on the Early Modern Stage’, and is an attempt to survey and account for the ubiquity of ‘the noblest humour’ in tragic drama written 1570-1642. My work is influenced by performance, body studies, anthropology, and literary theory but is broadly New Historicist. I investigate a range of early modern plays alongside various contemporary texts, literary and otherwise, in order to establish what blood meant, and what it meant to bleed, during the period in question. Part of this involves the unpacking of moments of violence into what I have labelled ‘the blood that is shed, the blood that is said, and the blood that is read’. The combination here of material, discursive, and interpretative engagements with blood creates the experience of bloodshed in drama, and, by extension, in early modern culture. I argue that the very notion of subjectivity, so often traced to this historical moment, is inextricably tied up in our relationship to blood. Discourses of sacrifice, performativity, humoralism, and the beginnings of modern medicine are all concerned with attempts to define and control the blood that is always tenuously contained within the body. These different attempts can be read as alienating discourses, by which lived experience is supplanted by expertise, culminating in the dominance of learned medicine today.

My other research interests include contemporary Gothic and horror, the impact of digitalisation on literature and humanity, and the rise and fall of interest in Shakespeare’s contemporaries. I have delivered various conference papers on areas ranging from medieval drama’s depictions of sacrifice to the threat of our usurpation by digital memory in Doctor Who, and have taught both 1st and 3rd year undergraduates whilst at Lancaster.