University Profiles

Donovan Sherman

Donovan Sherman, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of English


Dr. Sherman studies Shakespeare, dramatic literature and critical theory.

My research focuses primarily on Shakespeare and dramatic literature, with additional work in various fields of critical theory (psychoanalysis, political theology, animal studies) and performance studies. Currently, I am finishing a book, adapted from my doctoral dissertation, entitled Second Death: Theatricalities of the Soul in Shakespeare. The book contends that the figure of the soul in early modern England founded itself on an irreconcilable paradox: it must somehow provide the basis of human life while, at the same time, elude all traces of representation. This situation created a symptomatic anxiety in the theatre—a medium dependent on the very corporeal, kinetic and temporal elements that the soul rejects—which can be traced in the dramaturgy of Shakespeare and his peers. This theatrical anxiety, in turn, exposes an underlying cultural panic over the nature of spiritual subjectivity.

In addition, I am working on a future project, tentatively named The Radical Present: Rethinking Humanism in/as Performance, which proposes to read the key works (by More, Erasmus and others) and foundational texts (primarily the epistles of Saint Paul) of Humanism as hitherto ignored or misunderstood demonstrations of performance theory, finding in their work potentially radical interventions in current debates over materialism, embodiment and political activism. I also assist in writing and editing the textbook Theatre, by Robert Cohen, now in its ninth edition.


  • Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Academic Distinctions

Professional Affiliations
  • Shakespeare Association of America, American Society for Theatre Research

Conference Presentations

  • American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
  • The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • The Shakespeare Association of America (SAA)
  • The American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
  • The Group for Early Modern Culture Studies (GEMCS)
  • The California State Long Beach Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • The University of California, Irvine Group for the Study of Early Cultures (invited talk)



Office Phone
(973) 761-9388



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