Dr Ben Higgins

  • Shakespeare studies
  • The early modern bookshop
  • Bibliography and textual criticism
  • The history of libraries
  • Manuscript circulation networks

My research focuses on the literary and material cultures of the early modern period, with particular focus on Shakespeare, book history, and editorial practice.

My first monograph is: Shakespeare’s Syndicate: The First Folio, its Publishers, and the Early Modern Book Trade (Oxford University Press, 2022). This book offers a radically different and new account of the publication of William Shakespeare’s First Folio. My book also breaks new methodological ground in book history by exploring ways to escape the case study approach that tends to characterise work on stationers, and instead suggesting we look for meaning in networks and collectives.

I'm proud that this book has been shortlisted by the Shakespeare Association of America for their 2023 First Book Award, and by Shakespeare's Globe for their 2023 Book Award.

I'm currently working on a collaboratively authored book with my friend and colleague Dr Alice Leonard, of Coventry University, entitled Early Modern Bookspace (under contract to Cambridge University Press). Through a series of case-studies on designedly non-library spaces (fairs; pockets; tombs; playhouses; boats; and chests), the book argues that the site of reading in the early modern period influenced the interpretive strategies to which a text was subjected.

At undergraduate level I teach both Final Honours students and Prelims. For the Final Honours School, I teach any literature produced between 1550 and 1760, which means:

  • Paper 3 (Literature produced between 1550-1660)
  • Paper 4 (Literature produced between 1660-1760)
  • Paper 1 (Shakespeare)

For postgraduate level, in 2018-19 I have co-convened the compulsory M.St 'A Course' with Professor Lorna Hutson and Dr Katie Murphy, and I co-taught the 'B Course' in Early Modern Textual Cultures with Professor Adam Smyth. I have also been involved in graduate admissions for the M.St.

I supervise dissertations at both undergraduate and M.St level, and am open to any students interested in the research areas discussed above.