Henry S. Turner

research, publications, teaching

Spring 2023

Turner cover design

The Corporate Commonwealth: Pluralism and Political Fictions in England, 1516-1651 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). $45. Cloth. 344 pages, 8 black-and-white illustrations. What if the dilemma of 21st century political life is not that we have too many corporations but that we have too few? Could a future for the “commons” be written inside a corporate form? The Corporate Commonwealth traces the evolution of corporations during the English Renaissance and explores the many types of corporations that once flourished. Along the way, the book offers important insights into our own definitions of fiction, politics, and value.  Click here for a preview on Google Books.

The Corporate Commonwealth was awarded the 2017 Elizabeth Dietz Memorial Prize for the best book in Renaissance Studies by SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 and Rice University. The book also received Honorable Mention for the 2017 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History by the American Society for Theatre Research.

Check the “Ongoing and Upcoming” page for more information about ongoing projects, upcoming events, and the PhD graduate program in English Literature at Rutgers. Two essays from my current work, a book co-authored with Jane Hwang Degenhardt (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) tentatively entitled The Shakespearean Horizon, have recently appeared or are forthcoming:

Jane Hwang Degenhardt and Henry S. Turner, “Between Worlds in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors,Exemplaria 33.2 (2021): 158-83 discusses how conceptions of experience, enworlding, and the Mediterranean region inform Shakespeare’s response to early modern globalization and its racializing tendencies.

Henry S. Turner, “Worlds of Experience: Fiction in Sidney and Shakespeare,” forthcoming in a special issue of SEL: Studies in English Literature on “World, Globe, Planet,” 62.1 (Winter 2022), examines how Sidney and Shakespeare understood the ontology of fictional world-making, the nature of images, the relationship of art to experience, and the capacity of fiction to estrange us from the world so that we can imagine new ecological and political dispositions for it.

I recently spoke at the Renaissance Society of America conference in Dublin, Ireland, about changing ideas of experience, aesthetics, and cosmology in Renaissance occasional entertainments and The Tempest and will be speaking about Shakespeare’s “wild cosmologies” on a panel at the 2023 Shakespeare Association of America in Minneapolis that I organized with Jane Hwang Degenhardt (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Wendy Hyman (Oberlin College) on “The Early Modern Multiverse.”

Love Your Corporation,” a brief essay for a special joint issue of the American Book Review and the electronic book review on “Corporate Fictions,” offers a series of theoretical hypotheses toward a new dissident political theory of corporations. I also recently founded The Society for the Arts of Corporation. Click the link to find out more about the Society and how to become a member, and read this brief essay in the journal postmedieval for an explanation of why I formed it.

Interested in the nature of corporate personhood? Look for my essay on “Corporate Persons, Between Law and Literature” in the Oxford Handbook to English Law and Literature, 1500-1700, ed. Lorna Hutson (2017). The essay tracks the notions of “person,” “personation,” “personality,” and “personification” from the common law to Spenserian allegory, Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson and concludes with a theoretical discussion of corporate personhood and the continued relevance of personification today. The Handbook to English Law and Literature, 1500-1700 was awarded the 2017 Roland H. Bainton Reference Book Prize by the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference (SCSC).

I spoke with Jeffrey Gonzalez (BMCC, English) about corporations in the Renaissance and today for a special issue of the journal NANO: New American NotesOnline on “Corporations and Culture,” edited by Jeffrey and Adam Haley. Acting, legal personhood, logos and advertising, colonial corporations, the corporate ego: read the interview here.

Listen to an interview about The English Renaissance Stage with Robin MacKay of Urbanomic, conducted during his fascinating installation at the Kunsthall in Bergen, Norway. The installation, “The Ultimate Yarnwork,” explores the notion of “plot” in design, cinema, politics, and spatial theory. I talked with Robin about the history of the term “plot” and its origins in the early modern spatial arts. Diagrams, mapping, theatricality, public drama, playwrights as craftsmen, John Le Carré’s structural imagination, and many other topics. Punctuated by dramatic readings of key literary passages from The English Renaissance Stage. A description of “The Ultimate Yarnwork” is here. My interview with Robin is on Soundcloud here (with images and video from the installation) and on iTunes here.