2020 applicants

Professor John Gillies

Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)
Professor John Gillies



John Gillies joined the Department in January 2001. He lectured at the Shakespeare Institute, Macquarie University, The Australian National University, and LaTrobe University, before taking up an Australian Research Council Fellowship. He actively explores multimedia for pedagogical and research purposes. He has co-authored two multimedia packages: 'Shakespeare in Japan: Deguchi Norio', and 'Performing Shakespeare in China. 1980-90'. The first of these is currently on the LaTrobe University web site, the second is currently in further production with his co-author, Ruru Li. In addition to various articles and book chapters, he is the author of Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference(1994); co-editor (with Virginia Mason Vaughan) of Playing the Globe: Genre and Geography in English Renaissance Drama (1998); and co-editor (with Ryuta Minami and Ian Carruthers) of Performing Shakespeare in Japan (2001). He would particularly welcome applications for Ph.D. theses on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and cultural poetics (with a particular emphasis on the poetics of space and place); and performance issues in relation to Shakespeare and Renaissance drama.


  • BA New England

  • MA New England

  • MPhil Oxford

  • PhD The Australian National University

Research and professional activities

Current research

A Phenomenology of the Early Modern Sky

This paper attempts to consider the early modern idea of the sky from a phenomenological viewpoint. Unlike land or sea, the sky was never our domain. Whereas land (and to a lesser extent water) were humanly traversable by a body naturally or technologically fitted for that purpose, the sky was not. We neither approached nor possessed nor even located ourselves within it. We beheld it intransitively; apprehending but not comprehending. Effectively the sky was pure metaphor, the early modern hyperobject. I want to think through some implications of a phenomenological approach via early modern synonyms – welkin, firmament, vault, ceiling, element – as well as its early modern architecture.

The Grounds of Conversation in Shakespeare

The OED distinguishes two principal meanings of the word “conversation”: “the action of living or having one’s being in a place or among persons”, and “interchange of words, thoughts”. The first (senses 1-6) is now obsolete, the second (from sense 7) current. While there is some overlap, there is a significant gap in meaning and (I suggest) a kind of cultural struggle waged between the two. In the early modern period the first sense was dominant and the second sense emergent. Both senses, I suggest, were the focus of theoretical elaboration: the first principally by puritans (resulting in a distinction of conversational types along the lines of “Christian” and “common”), the second by Montaigne, Shaftesbury (and eventually, Gadamer). What I propose is to sketch each of these meanings of the word “conversation”, speak to the turn from one to the other, and identify traces of each kind in Shakespeare. This project represents a book-length version of ideas foreshadowed in my "The Conversational Turn in Shakespeare" published in Etudes Epistémès, 33, (2018).

Conferences and presentations

The Modernity of "The Duchess of Malfi"

Invited presentation, Aggregation Conference: sur "The Duchess of Malfi", Prof. Line Cottegnies, Paris, France, 12/10/2018

A Living Drollery: the blackamoor emblems in The Hawstead Panels

Keynote presentation, Exploring the Hawstead Panels, 17/1/2018

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama (LT111)

  • Shakespeare and the History Play (LT360)

  • Shakespeare: The Tragedies (LT372)

  • Independent Literature Project (LT831)

  • Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis (LT901)

  • Shakespeare and the Modern (LT923)

Previous supervision

Stanislava Georgieva Dikova
Stanislava Georgieva Dikova
Thesis title: Autonomy and Agency in Virginia Woolf's Writing
Degree subject: Literature
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 10/6/2019
Adam Hailes
Adam Hailes
Thesis title: Rethinking Pleasure in the Shakespearean Playhouse
Degree subject: Literature
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 1/4/2019
Fahmida Akhter
Fahmida Akhter
Thesis title: Fragmented Memory, Incomplete History: Women and Nation in War Films of Bangladesh
Degree subject: Film Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 7/7/2017
Amal Audeh
Amal Audeh
Thesis title: Staging Anger in Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy
Degree subject: Literature
Degree type: Master of Philosophy
Awarded date: 29/1/2016
Saud MoUSA A Alaboush
Saud MoUSA A Alaboush
Thesis title: Oscar Wilde's Immoral Aestheticism an Escape From Reality to the Realm of Beauty
Degree subject: Literature
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 8/10/2014
Petya Krassimirova Ivanova
Petya Krassimirova Ivanova
Degree subject: Occasional Study: Literature (Research)
Degree type: Occasional Postgraduate Study
Awarded date: 22/7/2012
Arianna Marmo
Arianna Marmo
Degree subject: Occasional Study: Literature (Research)
Degree type: Occasional Postgraduate Study
Awarded date: 25/4/2010


Journal articles (3)

Gillies, J., (2019). Dangerous Conversations in "The Duchess of Malfi". Sillages Critiques. 26, 1-26

Gillies, JD., (2018). The Conversational Turn in Shakespeare. Etudes Epistémè. 33 (33)

Gillies, J., (2015). Calvinism as tragedy in the English revenge play. Shakespeare. 11 (4), 362-387

Book chapters (5)

Gillies, J., (2018). "The god called Nothingness", Büchner, Shakespeare and Original Sin. In: The Shakespearean International Yearbook : 17: Special Section, Shakespeare and Value. Editors: Bishop, T. and Joubin, AA., . Taylor & Francis. 9781138497108

Gillies, JD., (2017). "Like steel of too hard a temper": Shakespeare, Livy and the idea of the founding virtues. In: Rome in Shakespeare's World. Editors: DelSapio, M., . Edizione di Storia e Letteratura (Roma)

Gillies, J., (2016). Maps, Morality and Anamorphism in Shakespeare. In: Shakespeare and the new science in early modern culture. Editors: Del Sapio Garbero, M., . Pacini Editore. 217- 238. 88-6995-001-8. 978-88-6995-001-8

Gillies, J., (2010). The Author's Accomplice, or the unsearchable complicities of players in the making of Elizabethan Drama. In: The Shakespearean International Yearbook: Special Section: The Achievement of Robert Weimann. Editors: Bradshaw, G., Bishop, T. and Schalkwyk, D., . Ashgate. 119- 141. 9781409408581

Gillies, J., (2010). "Mighty Space": The Ordinate and the Exorbitant in two Shakespeare Plays. In: Questioning Bodies in Shakespeare's Rome. Editors: Del Sapio Garbero, M., Isenberg, N. and Pennacchia, M., . Unipress. 259- 274. 9783899717402

Reports and Papers (1)

Gillies, J., (2013). 'Religious Doubt' or the question of original sin in Hamlet

Grants and funding


Shakespeare In Caribbean Culture

The British Academy


+44 (0) 1206 872609


5NW.6.7, Colchester Campus