Alysia Kolentsis

Associate Professor

Alysia Kolentsis

PhD, Toronto
MA, York
BA, Waterloo

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I am delighted to return to the University of Waterloo, the place where my academic interests first took shape. My family moved to Waterloo when I was eight so that my mother could attend Renison College, and I have many early memories of the University of Waterloo campus: sitting beside the creek, visiting the Porter library, and even tagging along to a lecture. I was hooked.

As an undergraduate, I enrolled at St. Jerome’s, and was profoundly influenced by my English courses on the main campus as well as across the creek. In particular, the courses that I took with Professor Katherine Acheson, which featured close readings of early modern writers such as Shakespeare and Milton, illuminated the rich possibilities available in the study of early modern literature and culture. At the same time, I nurtured an interest in language and language theory, developed in courses such as linguistics and semiotics. A reading course on Hamlet that combined language theory with literary analysis provided my moment of epiphany, and after completing an MA degree at York University, I arrived at the University of Toronto to pursue graduate work in linguistic approaches to Shakespeare. My dissertation focused on easily overlooked details of Shakespeare’s language to explore how Shakespeare’s speakers situate themselves and negotiate their identities in their language.

My subsequent work as a ​Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University examined interconnections among gender, the language of time, and notions of futurity in Shakespeare’s late plays. Most recently, I have been at work on a project that that considers Shakespeare’s language in the broader cultural and linguistic climate of early modern England, with a particular emphasis on the rapid changes underway in the English language during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Now, back in Waterloo and teaching Shakespeare at St. Jerome’s, I feel that I have truly come home.

Selected publications

Shakespeare’s Common Language. London: Bloomsbury (The Arden Shakespeare), 2020.

Shakespeare On Stage and Off. Ed. Kenneth Graham and Alysia Kolentsis. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2019.

“Shakespeare’s Creativity With Words.” The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Language. Ed. Lynne Magnusson and David Schalkwyk. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019.

“Tragedy and Compromise in George Eliot’s Armgart and Middlemarch.” Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture (2016) 49.3: 303-329.

“Shakespeare’s Lexical Style.” Shakespeare In Our Time: A Shakespeare Association of America Companion. Ed. Dympna Callaghan and Suzanne Gossett. London: Bloomsbury (Arden Shakespeare) (2016).

Assistant Editor, The Shakespeare Encyclopedia: Life, Works, World, and Legacyvols. General editor Patricia Parker. Westport: Greenwood. Forthcoming 2016.

“Shakespeare’s Linguistic Creativity: A Reappraisal.” Literature Compass 11.4 (2014): 258-266. 

“‘Grammar Rules’ in the Sonnets: Sidney and Shakespeare.” The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare’s Poetry. Ed. Jonathan Post. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013. 168-184.

Gendering Time and Space in Early Modern England, special issue of Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme (35.1, Fall 2012). Co-edited and introduction co-authored with Katherine Larson.

“‘Mark you/His absolute shall?’: Multitudinous Tongues and Contested Words inCoriolanus.” Shakespeare Survey 62 (2009): 141-50.

“Telling the Grace That She Felt: Linguistic Strategies in The Book of Margery Kempe.”Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 20.3 (2008): 225-43.

Fellowships & awards

  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant, “Shakespeare’s Changing Language,” 2017

  • SJU Faculty Research Grant, 2014

  • Stanford University, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2011

  • Dalhousie University, Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined), 2008

  • SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, 2004-2007

Areas of graduate supervision

  • Shakespeare
  • Early modern drama and poetry
  • History of English