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  • Matthew Kinservik
    Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    116 Hullihen Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-2101


    Matt Kinservik (B.A. & M.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ph.D. Penn State University) has taught at Delaware since 1997. He teaches courses in literature and theatre, with emphasis on 18th-century Britain. His most recent book, Sex. Scandal and Celebrity in Late Eighteenth-Century England was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2007. He has published articles on drama, literature, and theatre history in Theatre Survey, PQ, The British Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Huntington Library Quarterly, Harvard Library Bulletin, and elsewhere.

    Research and Teaching Interests

    ​Eigthteenth-century British literature; theatre history


  • Ph.D., English, Pennsylvania State University, 1997
  • M.A., English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
  • B.A., English & Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990

Research Projects 

  • Innovative Course Design Award
    Kinservik, Matthew
    In collaboration with Jane Wessel
    Matthew Kinservik, vice provost for faculty affairs, and Jane Wessel, doctoral student in English, have won a prestigious national award for innovative course design from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. The Honors colloquium entitled "Making Shakespeare" engages students in tracing the many paths that brought Shakespeare to prominence in the English literary tradition. “We’re looking at the period from about 1660-1760, and in the beginning of that period, Shakespeare was one among many well-known playwrights,” Kinservik said. “By the end of that time, he was, to use his words, ‘the be-all and the end-all’ among writers. The course asks why that happened.” The society's selection committee called the course's approach "imaginative and energetic" and said it "demonstrates the highest level of teaching excellence by engaging students with an impressive range of challenging materials."
  • The Jackson Affair: Treason and Print Culture in the First Age of Terror
    Kinservik, Matthew

    The Reverend William Jackson was a radical writer, an Anglican clergyman, and a spy for the French revolutionary government at the height of the Reign of Terror. He was arrested while on a spy mission to London and Dublin in April, 1794, was convicted of high treason the following year, and committed suicide at his sentencing hearing. The importance of the Jackson Affair has been noted by Irish historians, but my research shows that its impact was felt much more broadly in the Atlantic world in the 1790s, and has a significant relation to the infamous trials of the London Radicals and to the Alien and Sedition Acts in the United States. It offers us the opportunity to see how print and political discourse was affected by the Pitt ministry’s counter-terror measures in a new way because Jackson (unlike so many others targeted by the British government) actually was a traitor bent on the violent overthrow of his government.


  • Sex, Scandal, and Celebrity in Late Eighteenth-Century England
    Kinservik, Matthew
    New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

    ​This book tells the story of the bitter feud between the Duchess of Kingston and the actor, Samuel Foote, which resulted in a pair of scandalous trials in London in the revolutionary year of 1776. Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, the duchess’s state trial for bigamy and Foote’s criminal trial for attempted sodomy engrossed the attention of Londoners, including George III, Parliament, and the nobility. Sex, Scandal, and Celebrity offers specialists and general readers a meticulously researched and dramatic narrative that relates the fortunes and misfortunes of its protagonists and exposes the social and legal hypocrisies about love, sex, and marriage in the age of George III.

  • “The Production of a Female Pen”: Anna Larpent’s Account of the Duchess of Kingston’s Bigamy Trial of 1776
    Kinservik, Matthew
    New Haven: The Lewis Walpole Library, 2004.

    ​On 15 April 1776 the House of Lords convened as a jury in Westminster Hall to try the Duchess of Kingston for bigamy. The Hall was transformed into a theater-in-the-round for the four thousand spectators, making the five-day trial a notorious event of that London season. The diarist Anna Larpent, then an unmarried girl of eighteen, was among the crowd. She wrote thirty-eight pages recording her informed observations with immediacy and in vibrant detail. Recently rediscovered at The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, her manuscript is reproduced here in its entirety. The text is introduced and transcribed by Matthew J. Kinservik and illustrated with works from The Lewis Walpole Library.

  • Disciplining Satire: The Censorship of Satiric Comedy on the Eighteenth-Century London Stage
    Kinservik, Matthew
    Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2002.

    ​This book examines the effects of the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 on its main target, satiric comedy. The Licensing Act is generally considered to have been a significant and repressive censorship law (it was not repealed until 1968), but very little is known about how it actually worked and what effects it had on satiric comedy. Focusing on the playwriting careers of Henry Fieldling, Samuel Foote, and Charles Macklin, the three most controversial and heavily censored satiric dramatists of the century, Disciplining Satire pays particular attention to what type of satiric expression the law encouraged, not just what it prohibited. As the title of this book suggests, the Licensing Act was a disciplinary instrument that was seldom used to punish playwrights or prohibit plays; rather, the censorship had a more productive effect, training authors to write and audiences to consume a particular type of satiric comedy.

  • UD College /Dept. Name  •   Address  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: 302-xxx-xxxx  •   E-mail:


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