Berkeley English Graduate Students

Kevin Ogunniyi

Kevin Ogunniyi

Professional Statement

I work on early modern English drama--the work of William Shakespeare and his near-contemporaries--with an emphasis on their value qua art, qua poetry, and qua drama. Privileging the aesthetic dimension of these plays and the intellectual demands that they impose upon spectators, I tend to study them in union--comparing, for instance, the performances of aporia in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and John Webster's Duchess of Malfi. This comparative and broad-based study, I presume, helps me to deduce how the Elizabethan-Jacobean-Carolingian playwrights conceived: their synchronic and diachronic pushes--as competing artists--to make "literature" as palpable, material, and provocative as they could in as many ways as they could (without attracting the censor and censure of those above or beneath); these plays' roles as mass (and Mass) entertainment; the plays' linguistic, aesthetic, and epistemic transgressiveness; drama's ability to reify contemporaneous ideas and social circumstances (and to allow dramatists and spectators the literal and epistemic space to evaluate those ideas); the unique ability of plays to unite poetry, narrative, and bottomless multivocality; the psycho-soci(et)al role of the theatre writ large.

I study with a furtive eye to linking--or to understanding how the early modern period links--the literal saints and monsters of the medieval era to the metaphorical ones of modernity--and a third eye to the many ways, besides that one, in which the early modern period synthesizes concerns, beliefs, orientations, and propensities often associated with other periods.

Cliffnotes-inspired précis of my critical interests: I share sympathies substantially with the New Aestheticists, Character Critics, Ecocritics, Presentists, and Cognitive Critics.

English Department Classes