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  • Kristen Poole
    Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    313 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    Office Hours: On sabbatical 2017-18


    ​​Kristen Poole received her BA from Carleton College (1989) and her MA and PhD from Harvard University (1991, 1996). She specializes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature and culture, with a particular focus on religious history. She is the author of two books, Radical Religion from Shakespeare to Milton: Figures of Nonconformity in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare’s England: Spaces of Demonism, Divinity, and Drama (Cambridge University Press, 2011). She has published articles in Comparative Drama, English Literary History, English Literary Renaissance, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Quarterly, South Central Quarterly, Studies in English Literature, and other essay collections. 

    At the undergraduate level she has taught courses on Renaissance Literature, Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, early modern women writers, Milton, the history of “Shakespeare,” and literary theory. At the graduate level she has taught seminars ranging from the Renaissance culture of dissection to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century notions of space-time. She has begun a new book project on the place of allegory in seventeenth-century scientific thought, and is working on an advanced Master’s degree in historical theology.


  • Ph.D., English, Harvard University, 1996
  • M.A., English and American Literature and Language, Harvard University, 1991
  • B.A., English, Carleton College, 1989

Research Projects 


  • Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare's England: Spaces of Demonism, Divinity, and Drama
    Poole, Kristen
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    ​Bringing together recent scholarship on religion and the spatial imagination, Kristen Poole examines how changing religious beliefs and transforming conceptions of space were mutually informative in the decades around 1600. Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare's England explores a series of cultural spaces that focused attention on interactions between the human and the demonic or divine: the deathbed, purgatory, demonic contracts and their spatial surround, Reformation cosmologies and a landscape newly subject to cartographic surveying. It examines the seemingly incongruous coexistence of traditional religious beliefs and new mathematical, geometrical ways of perceiving the environment. Arguing that the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century stage dramatized the phenomenological tension that resulted from this uneasy confluence, this groundbreaking study considers the complex nature of supernatural environments in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth and The Tempest.

  • Radical Religion from Shakespeare to Milton: Figures of Nonconformity in Early Modern England
    Poole, Kristen
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    ​The image of the puritan as a dour and repressive character has been central to ways of reading sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history and literature. Kristen Poole's original study challenges this perception arguing that radical reformers were most often portrayed in literature of the period as deviant, licentious and transgressive. Through extensive analysis of early modern pamphlets, sermons, poetry and plays, the fictional puritan emerges as a grotesque and carnivalesque figure. By recovering this lost satirical image, Poole sheds new light on the social role played by anti-puritan rhetoric.

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