Dr. Nardizzi specializes in English Renaissance literature, especially Shakespeare. He also has research interests in ecotheory, plant studies, queer studies, and disability studies. His first book, Wooden Os: Shakespeare’s Theatres and England’s Trees (University of Toronto Press, 2013), brings into view the forest and the trees of English Renaissance drama: it explores the surprising connections among Shakespeare’s theatre, drama set “in the woods,” and an environmental crisis that propagandists claimed would lead to an eco-political collapse – an unprecedented scarcity of wood and timber. The Society for Theatre Research short-listed it for the 2013 Theatre Book Prize.
His current research project, Marvellous Vegetables in the Renaissance, explores relationships among poetry, visual art, and botanical natural history in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Its broadest archive is John Gerard’s monumental Herball, or General Historie of Plantes (1597), which has a complex textual history and continental pedigree and is also routinely designated as “Shakespeare’s herbal.” More narrowly, this project focuses on four case studies drawn from The Herball – leeks, laurels, tulips, and potatoes. Two chapters are devoted to each case study. The first chapters explore the plant specimen in terms of its placement in The Herball’s organizational architecture: the common leek anchors comparisons that conceptualize morphological resemblance; the exalted laurel opens onto The Herball’s ambivalent use of poetry as natural historical evidence; the unpredictable colors of the tulip strain the patience and limits of natural historical description; and the novel – to European eyes – potato is Gerard’s signature plant. The second chapters track the surprising trajectories of these plants in the period’s artistic imagination: leeks in Arcimboldo and Shakespeare; laurels in Spenser, Harvey, Evelyn, and Bernini; tulips in Marvell, Pulter, Hilliard, and Le Moyne; and potatoes in Shakespeare and the Drake Manuscript. These case studies are thus designed to encompass exotic and native plants, to span high and low social registers, and to track the movement of plants across oceans, cultures, and languages. They prompt analyses that are cross-disciplinary, multilingual, and transatlantic in nature. And they spotlight the hitherto unexamined – but central – place of these four plants in the field of English Renaissance studies.
With Stephen Guy-Bray and Will Stockton, he has co-edited Queer Renaissance Historiography: Backward Gaze (Ashgate, 2009); with Jean E. Feerick, The Indistinct Human in Renaissance Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); with Tiffany Jo Werth, Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination (Toronto, 2019); and with Robert W. Barrett, Jr., a special issue of postmedieval called “Premodern Plants.” He was awarded a Killam Teaching Prize in 2011, the Dean of Arts Faculty Research Award in 2018, and was in residence at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies in 2014-15. He has received research funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight Development, Connection, and Insight Grants), the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Shakespeare Association of America, and the Henry E. Huntington Library.
From 2019-2024, he will serve on the MLA Forum Executive Committee for Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities, and from 2020-23 as a Member of the MLA Delegate Assembly representing the Western US and Western Canada. He serves on the Advisory Board for Penn State University Press’s series “Cultural Inquiries in English Literature, 1400-1700” and on the Editorial Board of Shakespeare Quarterly. He welcomes queries about both venues.
Since joining UBC in 2006, Dr. Nardizzi has taught a range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on English Renaissance literature. His teaching interests also include ecotheory, queer theory, and disability studies. He has supervised undergraduate and graduate students conducting research on these topics.
Dr. Nardizzi is a founding member of the research network “Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds” (http://oecologies.com/).
Our research collective asks how we might rethink modern “ecology” through the study of premodern natural history, taxonomy, hierarchy, and categorization; discusses the relations among terms such as N/nature, landscape, ecology, economy, environment, and technology; and asks how our regionally and temporally specific conceptions draw / differ from premodern inhabitations of the world.
Each year we employ at least one graduate student RA to work on this project.
Books and Collections
- Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.
- Wooden Os: Shakespeare’s Theatres and England’s Trees. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.
- The Indistinct Human in Renaissance Literature. Co-edited with Jean E. Feerick. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
- Queer Renaissance Historiography: Backward Gaze. Co-edited with Stephen Guy-Bray and Will Stockton. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009.
- “Daphne Described: Ovidian Poetry and Speculative Natural History in Gerard’s Herball,” Philological Quarterly 98.1-2 (2019): 137-56.
- Contribution to “Memory Studies and the Anthropocene: A Roundtable.” Memory Studies 11.4 (2018): 509-11.
- “Budding Oedipus: The Oedipal Family Tree and King Lear.” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 62.3 (Summer 2020): 347-66.
- “Shakespeare’s Transplant Poetics: Vegetable Blazons and the Seasons of Pyramus’s Face.’ Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. 19.4 (Fall 2019): 156-77.
Book Chapters (Select)
- “Environ.” In Veer Ecology: An Ecotheory Companion, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), pp. 183-95
- “Afterword.” In Queer Shakespeare: Desire and Sexuality, ed. Goran Stanivukovic (London: Bloomsbury Arden, 2017), pp. 279-94.
- “Disability Figures in Shakespeare.” In Oxford Handbook on Shakespeare and Embodiment, ed. Valerie Traub (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 455-67.
- “Wooden Actors on the English Renaissance Stage.” In Renaissance Posthumanism, eds. Joseph Campana and Scott Maisano (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016). pp. 195-220.
Associate Member, Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice