In both my research and my teaching, I am guided by my longstanding interest in social justice and by the ways that writing, reading, and critiquing works of literature might contribute to a more just future for the world. As a professor in the English department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I offer graduate and undergraduate courses on a wide array of topics, ranging from Renaissance understandings of the global world, to the history of race and the construction of the human, to the use of creative writing and art to transform trauma into healing. I find great value in approaching Shakespeare trans-historically, placing his plays in conversation with contemporary writers of color and theoretical discussions of race and gender. As an advisor, I believe in fostering original work that is both rigorous and creative, passionate and yet honest, historically-informed and also visionary about the future contributions that scholarship can make to our world.
My most recent book project, entitled Globalizing Fortune on The Early Modern Stage, was published by Oxford University Press in 2022. This study examines how ancient and early modern ideas of chance, luck, and opportunity evolved in relation to the emergence of proto-capitalist global expansion. It also demonstrates how the commercial theater developed new dramatic conventions and representational techniques in response to the new ideas of fortune that a globalizing moment made possible. I am in the process of writing a new collaborative book with Henry Turner (Rutgers University) that explores pluralistic understandings of the concept of “world” in Shakespeare’s plays as a means to imagining alternatives to globalization and an anthropocentric future.
Jane Hwang Degenhardt
Professor of English
Department of English
University of Massachusetts, Amherst