Legal Ecologies

“Legal Ecologies” is a roundtable session I co-organized with Jeffrey Jerome Cohen for MLA 2018 in New York. The session is co-sponsored by MLA’s Law and Humanities Forum and Ecocroticism and Environmental Humanities Forum The Anglo-American legal tradition is fundamentally anthropocentric and individualist. As the legal philosopher Desmond Manderson observes, criminal law, contract law, property law, and even constitutional law all start “with the assumed primacy of ‘I’,” the “I” which is independent and autonomous, born with a set of natural, unassailable rights to life, liberty, and property. Both Thomas Hobbes and John Locke believed that humans were by nature independent and self-govern

Object Lessons in Renaissance Personhood

I will be directing a seminar called “Object Lessons in Renaissance Personhood” at the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in Los Angeles, CA, March 28-31, 2018. The concept of personhood has a long and contentious history. It dates back to antiquity and in our own time underpins debates about abortion, euthanasia, and animal rights. In early modern England legal personhood was established through Magna Carta, which guaranteed that no free man should be harmed in person or property, save in accordance with the law of the land. This seminar starts with the premise that personhood is not just inward looking, a legal expression of agency and sentience, but also outward look

Object Lessons in Personhood

“Object Lessons in Personhood” is a roundtable session I organized for the MLA Law and Humanities Forum. It will take place on Thursday, January 5, 2017, at the MLA convention in Philadelphia. Featuring object lessons on chair, body, mail-coach, will, canoe, child soldier, and cloud, the session explores how theoretical issues surrounding legal personhood–questions of consent, responsibility, rights, and freedom–manifest themselves at the level of substance, form, and environment. Our aim is to establish a material archive for personhood and model new ways of putting legal studies into conversation with other thriving subfields in the humanities. Presiding: Kevin Curran, University of Lausan

The Legal Imagination: Archive, Practice, Concept

On September 28, 2016, I’ll be directing a workshop called “The Legal Imagination: Archive, Practice, Concept” at the University of Geneva. A short description is below. Between 1400 and 1700, English legal culture underwent massive changes on a number of fronts: textual, professional procedural, jurisdictional. With this in mind, this workshop invites participants to consider two basic questions: (1) how did law shape fundamental aspects of thought and experience in the late medieval and early modern periods? And (2) what sort of evidence exists to help us address this subject? In the course of our discussions, we will engage with a range of important methodological issues. For example: how

Shakespeare's Questions

Read my short piece commissioned for the Edinburgh University Press blog in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It’s called “Shakespeare’s Questions.” (I’m developing ideas dor a short book of the same title.)

Shakespearean Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Cynicism, Indifference

A session for RSA 2016 in Boston. Session Organizer: Kevin Curran (University of Lausanne) Session Chair: Ayesha Ramachandran (Yale University) Cosmopolitan Hospitality in The Merchant of Venice Kevin Curran (University of Lausanne) Abstract: The Merchant of Venice is Shakespeare’s most determinedly cosmopolitan play, presenting an array of border crossings and visitations among a religiously, nationally, and ethnically diverse community of friends and enemies. This paper explores the role of hospitality in cosmopolitan political life—the way greeting, feasting, and accommodation are used to manage encounters between insiders and outsiders in the play. Particular attention is given to the id

Recent Posts

Distinguished International Visiting Fellow, Australian Research Council’s Center for the History of Emotions, 2017


Short-Term Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 2011


Pforzheimer Fellowship in Renaissance Studies at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, 2009      


Bibliographical Society of America Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007        


FQRSC Collaborative Research Grant for the McGill Shakespeare and Performance Research Team, 2007-10


Francis Bacon Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library, 2006


Short-Term Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 2005


Richard H. Tomlinson Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 2005-07, McGill University


Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Scholarship, 2001-05



Kesterson Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, 2012

Professor of the Year Award, 2012

© 2017 by Kevin Curran.