Mark Bayer, Ph.D.

Department Chair, Professor, English

Mark Bayer



My research focuses on the reception of early modern drama. I’m interested in both the local conditions of dramatic performance in sixteenth and seventeenth century London, and in the afterlives of Shakespeare’s plays in contexts as diverse as the modern Middle East to nineteenth century America. In my first book, Theatre, Community, and Civic Engagement in Jacobean London, a finalist for the 2012 Freedley award, I claimed that playgoing enhanced social capital and contributed to community formation in early modern London—especially in the neighborhoods where specific playhouses were located. Contrary to the familiar assertion that playhouses were disruptive to law, order, and propriety, I argued that the theater was an edifying institution in the community and a boon to London neighborhoods. Playhouses contributed to local commerce and charitable endeavors, offered a convivial gathering place where current social and political issues were sifted, and helped to define and articulate the shared values of its audiences. I also show how plays by Dekker, Heywood, Massinger, and Shakespeare engage with the particular concerns of specific audiences, and deal with pressing issues as diverse as religion, the plague, and debt.

Another strain of my scholarship looks at the complex question of Shakespeare’s long-term cultural authority in the Middle East, and I have written a series of articles that consider the somewhat perplexing obsession with Shakespeare in that part of the world. In an effort to move beyond the language of postcolonialism and cultural appropriation, I argue that adaptations of Shakespeare in the region are less about an encounter with an alien “other,” but that the characters and events depicted in the plays are projected onto vernacular concerns that have helped Arabs develop thriving indigenous theatrical institutions and enunciate regional political concerns within a global context.

My current work looks at Shakespeare in the United States, especially the origins of institutionalized Shakespeare studies during the late nineteenth century. I am also working on an edited collection, provisionally entitled Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, and the Bardic Tradition.

Research Interests

  • Early Modern Drama
  • Shakespeare
  • Literary Theory
  • British Romanticism
  • Renaissance Poetry


Ph.D. in English, Ohio State University (2002)
M.A. in English, McGill University (1997)
B.A. in Political Studies, Queen's University (1995)

Honors and Awards

  • Teaching and Learning Reimagined Grant (with Sue Hum)
  • Short Term Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award (awarded for best book in Theatre Studies)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Grant
  • Newberry Library Fellowship
  • Francis Bacon Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library
  • Renaissance Society of America, Research Grant
  • Huntington Library Fellowship


Edited with Joseph Navitsky, Shakespeare and Civil Unrest in Britain and the United States. London: Routledge, 2022. x + 197 pp.
Theatre, Community, and Civic Engagement in Jacobean London. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2011. xii + 264 pp.

“Twelfth Night and the Economics of Christian Charity.” Reformation 28.1 (2023): 34-49.

“Richard Grant White, the Civil War, and the Future of American Shakespeare Studies.” Shakespeare and Civil Unrest in Britain and the United States. Eds. Mark Bayer and Joseph Navitsky. London: Routledge, 2022, pp. 45-58.

“The Balfour Declaration As a Pound of Flesh.” Shakespeare 16.3 (2020): 258-71.

“Henry Norman Hudson and the Origins of American Shakespeare Studies.” Shakespeare Quarterly 68 (2017): 271-95.

“Popular Classical Drama.” The Routledge Research Companion to Shakespeare and Classical Literature. Eds. Sean Keilen and Nick Moschovakis. London: Routledge, 2017, pp. 227-35.

“Heywood’s Epic Theatre.” Comparative Drama 48 (2014): 371-91.

“Shylock, Palestine, and the Second World War.” Shakespeare and the Second World War: Theatre, Culture, Identity. Eds. Irena Makaryk and Marissa McHugh. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013, pp. 63-82.

“The Curious Case of Thomas Dekker’s Match Me in London and Its Audiences.” Imagining the Audience in Early Modern Drama: 1558-1642. Eds. Jennifer Low and Nova Myhill. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 55-70.

“Khaki Hamlets: Shakespeare, Joyce, and the Agency of Literary Texts.” Borrowers and Lenders: the Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 5.1 (2010): 1-24.

“The Red Bull Playhouse.” The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre. Ed. Richard Dutton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 225-39.

“The Merchant of Venice, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Perils of Shakespearean Appropriation.” Comparative Drama 41 (2007): 465-92.

“The Martyrs of Love and the Emergence of the Arabic Cultural Consumer.” Critical Survey 19.3 (2007): 6-26.

“Staging Foxe at the Fortune and the Red Bull.” Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 27 (2003): 61-94.

“The Distribution of Political Agency in Fletcher’s Purple Island.” Criticism 44 (2002): 249-70.

“Is a Crown Just a Fancy Hat?: Sovereignty in Richard II.” Explorations in Renaissance Culture 28 (2002): 129-52.

“Moving UpMarket: The Queen Anne’s Men at the Cockpit in Drury Lane, 1617." Early Theatre 4 (2001): 138-48.