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School of English and Drama

Professor David Schalkwyk


Professor of Shakespeare Studies



I have been a Professor and Head of Department and Deputy Dean at the University of Cape Town, Director of Research and editor of the Shakespeare Quarterly at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC (2009-2014).  I came to QM in 2014 and was Academic Director of Global Shakespeare (with the University of Warwick) until 2017.  Currently I am Director for the Centre for Global Shakespeares.  I completed my DPhil at the University of York in 1992, a Wittgensteinian critique of the Saussurean theory of the sign and a reconsideration of the relationship between literature and the world, published as Literature and the Touch of the Real (Delaware, 2004) and extended to Bakhtin in Words in the World: The Bakhtin Circle (Skenè, 2016). I have published on Shakespeare, including Speech and Performance in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Plays (Cambridge, 2002), Shakespeare, Love and Service (Cambridge, 2008) and Shakespeare, Love and Language (Cambridge, 2019).  My interest in South African prison writing culminated in Hamlet’s Dreams: The Robben Island Shakespeare (Bloomsbury, 2013). I am co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Tragedy (2018), the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Language (2019), and have some 150 essays and chapters on literary theory and philosophy (especially Saussure, Derrida, Wittgenstein and J.L. Austin), Shakespeare, and South African prison writing.  I am general editor of the Arden Series “Global Shakespeare Inverted”.


Research Interests:

  • Shakespeare (especially Global Shakespeare, love in Shakespeare, and the sonnets).
  • Literary philosophy and theory (especially linguistic philosophy—Wittgenstein, Derrida, J.L. Austin—Bakhtin and Lacan).
  • Shakespeare and performance, especially directorless Shakespeare and gender and race-blind casting
  • South African prison writing

Recent and On-Going Research

Following the publication of my monograph on love in Shakespeare (Shakespeare, Love and Language) I am beginning to work on jealousy in Shakespeare.  I am also writing a study of Shakespeare’s sonnets and the philosophy of language.  




  • Shakespeare, Love and Language (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
  • Words in the World: The Bakhtin Circle. Skene Studies 3 (Verona, Italy: Skene, 2016)
  • Hamlet’s Dreams: The Robben Island Shakespeare. The Arden Shakespeare (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)
  • Shakespeare, Love and Service (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008; paperback 2012)
  • Literature and the Touch of the Real. University of Delaware Press, 2004.
  • Speech and Performance in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Plays (Cambridge University Press, 2002; paperback 2007)

Edited collections

  • with Lynne Magnusson, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • with Michael Neill, The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Tragedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • The Shakespearean International Yearbook: Special Section, The Achievement of Robert Weimann. (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010)


  • Another Country, English translation of Karel Schoeman's novel 'n Ander Land (London: Sinclair Stevenson, 1991; paperback edition: London and New York: Picador, 1994)
  • 'Shakespeare’s Language in Action,' in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • 'Love and the "curse of service" in Three Jacobean Tragedies,' A Handbook of Renaissance Studies, ed. John Lee (London: John Wiley and Sons, 2017)
  • ’"Unpacking the Heart": Privacy, Interiority and Theatricality,' in Shakespeare's Hamlet: Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature), ed. Tzachi Zamir (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 188-221
  • 'Wittgenstein and the Art of Defamiliarization,' in Understanding Wittgenstein, Understanding Modernism, ed. Anat Matar (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), 182-205.
  • 'Coriolanus: A Tragedy of Language' and, with Colette Gordon and Daniel Roux,
  • 'Shakespeare’s Tragedies in Southern Africa,' in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Tragedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • 'Cressida: Proper Names and Common Bodies,' in  Shakespeare’s World of Words, ed. Paul Yachnin (London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2015), pp. 50-66
  • 'Othello’s Consummation,' Arden State of Play, ed. Ann Thomson and Lena Orlin (London: Bloomsbury, 2014)
  • 'Mandela’s Stoicism,' in The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela, ed. Rita Barnard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • Foreword to South African Essays on ‘Universal’ Shakespeare, ed. Chris Thurman (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014)
  • 'Shakespeare’s Untranslatability,' in Transnational Mobilities in Early Modern Theater, ed. Robert Henke and Eric Nicholson (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014),  pp. 229-44
  • 'The Conceptual Investigations of Shakespeare’s Sonnets,' T59-7he Oxford Handbook to Shakespeare’s Poetry, ed. Jonathan Post (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 467-85


Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

  • with Elena Pellone, “Content but also unwell”: Distributed Character and Language in The Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare Survey 72 (2019)
  • “Storms and Drops, Bonds and Chains: Exile in King Lear and The Comedy of Errors”, Shakespeare Jahrbuch 155 (2019)
  • (With Elena Pellone) “The Breath of Kings: The Theatre of Power and the Power of Theatre in Richard II, Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies. 4.2 (2018)
  • “Cavell, Wittgenstein, Shakespeare, and Skepticism: OthelloCymbeline”, Modern Philology 114.3 (2017): 601–629
  • “Macbeth’s Language”, Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies. 3.2 (2017)
  • (With Ruth Morse). “This Earth”. Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen (November/December 2015)
  • “Cursing to Learn: The Speech Acts of The Tempest”, Shakespeare Survey 66 (2013)
  • “Shakespeare’s Poetic Will: The Grammar of Character and Moral Agency in the Poems”, Shakespeare Studies XL (2012): 26-35
  • “’Love’s Transgression’: Service, Romeo, Juliet, and the Finality of the You”, The Shakespearean International Yearbook 11 (2011): 111-48
  • “The Impossible Gift of Love in The Merchant of Venice and the Sonnets”, Shakespeare, 7.2 (2011): 142-155
  • “Is love an Emotion?: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Antony and Cleopatra”, Symploke: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Mixing of Discourses, 18.1-2 (2011): 99-130
  • “Text and Performance, Reiterated”, The Shakespearean International Yearbook: Special Section, The Achievement of Robert Weimann (2010): 47-76
  • “The Discourses of Friendship and the Structural Imagination of Shakespeare’s Theatre: Montaigne, Twelfth Night, De Gournay, Renaissance Drama New Series 38 (2010): 141-172
  • “Giving Intention Its Due”, Style 3 (Fall 2010): 311-27
  • “Shakespeare’s Speech”, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2 (Spring 2010): 373-400


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.


For the past three years I have facilitated and acted in professional performances of Shakespeare’s Richard II and Much Ado About Nothing with Anərkē  Shakespeare and the Venice Shakespeare Company in UK, Italy and Germany as part of the Centre for Global Shakespeare’s research programme into multi-cultural and multi-lingual Shakespeare, working without a director, and non-mimetic casting.  Forthcoming projects include a production of Macbeth in April 2020 and of Othello in Venice in July 2020.

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