Shakespearean drama, English Renaissance literature, early modern social history and popular politics
Office: 482 Armitage Hall
Phone: (856) 225-6554
Chris Fitter was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, where his middle-class parents were Salvation Army officers serving a community of North Country miners. This produced an intrigued confusion about class which haunts him still. When he was six, his parents moved to Walsall, where his mother found her laundry, hung out to dry, was coated with a film of soot, and where the only lavatory, downstairs, outside, and across a brick yard, was a cesspit festooned with vast spider webs. He has nightmares still about the choice between a bursting bladder and giant spiders. When eight, his parents moved again, now to a small South Country market town, where he was surrounded by scions of the middle classes and mocked for his plebeian Birmingham accent. On going to Oxford, where he received his degrees, culminating in his D.Phil. from St John’s College in 1989, he was enveloped by so many patrician accents and clipped, jaunty tones that he was almost nostalgic for the spiders, and continued his career as a class-outsider. His continuing work on Shakespeare construes the plays in terms of their political historicity, and of their concern with issues, remarkably, of social class. He lives in the USA — a nation, as we all know, free from anything as unjust as a class system — where he is currently Professor of English at Rutgers University, Camden.
Poetry, Space, Landscape: Toward A New Theory. Cambridge University Press, 1995. Republished in hard cover 1996. Issued in paperback 2005.
Radical Shakespeare: Politics and Stagecraft in the Early Years. Routledge, 2012. Nominated for the 2013 Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize of the Renaissance Society of America. Issued in paperback 2013.
Shakespeare and the Politics of Commoners: Digesting the New Social History, editor and contributor. (Based on the proceedings of the international conference which I organized for the Huntington, April 2015.) Oxford University Press, July 2017.
Majesty and the Masses: Western Kingship, the Essex Challenge, and Political Stagecraft in Shakespeare’s History Plays. Routledge, 2021.
Shakespeare and the Essex Climax: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Coriolanus. Work in progress.
‘A Tale of Two Branaghs: Henry V, Ideology and the Mekong Agincourt’, a chapter in Shakespeare Left and Right, ed. Ivo Kamps (Routledge, 1991), 259-76.
- This essay was reprinted in another anthology, Shakespeare’s History Plays, ed. R.J.C. Watt (London: Longman, 2002), 169- 83.
- The entire original volume was considered prestigious enough to be reissued by Routledge in 2015.
‘Landscape’: 6,000 word essay-entry in The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford University Press, 1998, vol. 3, 86-93.
- Revised in 2014 edition.
‘La Nuit dans les Tenebres de la Guerre Civile: le Nocturne comme Resistance chez Henry Vaughan’, a chapter in in Penser La Nuit, ed. Dominique Bertrand (Honoré Champion, Paris, 2003), 343-65.
‘Henry VI Part Two and the Politics of Human Commonality’, a chapter in Renaissance Texts and Contexts, ed. Amlan das Gupta (Macmillan India, 2003), 72-95.
‘“The Devil Take Such Cozeners!”: Radical Shakespeare in 1 Henry IV’, in I Henry IV: A Critical Guide, ed. Stephen Longstaffe (London and New York: Continuum, 2011), 99-121.
ESSAYS IN JOURNALS
‘The Rhetoric of Exile’ in Milton Studies, XX, 1984, 147-62.
‘The Landscapes of Henry Vaughan: Poet of Military Occupation’ in Essays in Criticism, XLII, April 1992, 123-47.
‘W.J. Cash and the Southerner as the Superman: Philosophic Contexts of The Mind of the South’ in The Southern Literary Journal, XXVIII, 1, Fall 1995, 99-114.
‘The Poetic Nocturne: from Ancient Motif to Renaissance Genre’ in Early Modern Literary Studies 3.2, September 1997, 2.1-61.
‘From the Dream to the Womb: Visionary Impulse and Political Ambivalence in The Great Gatsby’ in Journal X (University of Mississippi), 3.1, Autumn 1998, 1-21.
‘The Slain Deer and Political Imperium: in As You Like It, and Andrew Marvell’s “Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn”’ in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, April 1999, 193-218.
- Reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism, vol. 150 (Gale, Cengage Learning), 2013.
‘W.J. Cash’s Mind of the South and the Limitations of Particularist Historiography’ in Southern Quarterly, 38.2, Winter 2000, 98-110.
‘“The Quarrel is between our Masters and Us their Men”: Romeo and Juliet, Dearth and the London Riots’ in English Literary Renaissance, 30.2, April 2000, 154-83.
‘“Your Captain is Brave and Vows Reformation”: Jack Cade, the Hacket Rising, and Shakespeare’s Vision of Popular Rebellion’, Shakespeare Studies 32 (2004), 173-219.
‘Recovering Henry VI Part Two: History, Politics, and Stagecraft’, English Literary History, 72, no.1 (Spring 2005), 129-158.
‘Historicizing Shakespeare’s Richard II: Current Events and the Sabotage of Essex’, Early Modern Literary Studies 11.2 (September 2005), 1.1-47.
‘Reading Orlando Historically: Vagrancy, Forest, and Vestry Values in Shakespeare’s As You Like It’, in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, vol.23 (2010), 114- 41.
‘“Mock not Flesh and Blood / With Solemn Reverence”: Recovering Radical
Shakespeare’ in Literature Compass, vol. 9, issue 6, pp.420-30, June 2012.
‘“The Art of Known and Feeling Sorrows”: Rethinking Capitalist Transition, and the Performance of Class Politics, in Shakespeare’s King Lear’, in Early Modern Literary Studies, vol.19 number 1, Summer 2016, 1-23.
‘“So Distribution Should Undo Excess”: Recovering the Political Pressure of Distributive and Egalitarian Discourses in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Early Modern England’, forthcoming from English Literary History, Winter 2019.
SERVICE TO THE PROFESSION
Reader for Verso Press, 1998
Reader for Literature Compass, 2012
Reader for Shakespeare Quarterly, 2013
Advisor to The Norton Shakespeare (2nd ed., 2008) on Henry V
Advisor to The Norton Shakespeare (3rd edition, forthcoming 2014) on Richard II
Advisor to The Bedford Shakespeare (2011) on Romeo, Othello and Hamlet (2011)
Reader for JEMCS, 2016
Reviewer for Early Modern Literary Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Notes and Queries, Modern Philology, Orion, and Clio
External evaluator in candidacy for promotion to full Professor of a faculty member at Mary Washington University, August 2018
Reader for Cambridge University Press manuscript proposal, fall 2018