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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Dr Patrick Gray, BA (UNC), MLitt (Oxon), PhD (Yale)

Personal web page

Departmental Rep (English) in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

(email at

I graduated from Yale in 2011 with a Ph.D. in English and Renaissance Studies, after studying at Oxford, the Sorbonne, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I arrived at Durham in 2013, after a year teaching comparative literature at the United States Military Academy at West Point, as well as a semester as a Visiting Professor at Deep Springs College, teaching Shakespeare and the history of aesthetics. While finishing my doctoral work at Yale, I taught Shakespeare, classics, and intellectual history at Providence College. At Durham, I am co-convenor of the lecture series "Introduction to Drama" and sole convenor of a seminar, "Shakespeare's History Plays," a special topic, "Shakespeare's Problem Plays," and two postgraduate seminars, "Shakespeare in Context" and "Lyric Poetry of the English Renaissance and Reformation." In the spring of 2016, I was Early Career International Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre for the History of Emotions, 1100-1800.

If you are interested in doctoral supervision, please contact me directly by email at I am currently supervising doctoral theses on Shakepeare, femininity, and forgiveness; Shakespeare's Roman plays, English history plays, and trauma theory; Shakespeare, Rabelais, and Bakhtin; the early modern reception of medieval romance; and metatheatre in early modern English drama. I am interested in projects that consider any aspect of classical reception, Continental influences, intellectual history, theology, philosophy, ethics, political theory, aesthetics, and/or literary history in early modern English literature, including poetry and prose, as well as drama. I am the Northern Bridge Subject Area Academic Contact for Drama and Theatre Studies at Durham University, and I am happy to field questions about funding for doctoral study, as well as other aspects of the application process.

My current project is a monograph: Shame and Guilt in Shakespeare. Freud defines guilt as anxiety (Angst): a fear of retaliation which limits antisocial behaviour. Shame as he sees it is fear of external punishment, and guilt is shame turned inward: intrapsychic, pre-emptive self-punishment designed to ward off temptation. As it turns out, however, this account has not stood up to scrutiny. More recent research in psychiatry has found that the key to understanding the difference between these emotions is not relative degrees of internalization but instead a tension between individual agency and social embeddedness. Shame comes from being hurt; guilt, from hurting others. Shame reflects weakness; guilt, strength, albeit strength misused. In keeping with these findings, as well as work in anthropology, classicists over the past century have revisited and revised the controversial, influential concept of a distinction between “shame culture” and “guilt culture,” abandoning earlier, now-discredited Freudian premises. Instead, they now tend to align these conceptual categories, even if at times only implicitly, with the contrast Nietzsche draws between “master” and “slave” morality. Nietzsche’s account of the rise of Christianity in his Genealogy of Morals has in effect displaced Freud’s story of the emergence of conscience in Civilization and its Discontents as the most pervasive model of a historical transition from a barbaric past to a civilized present: the moral revolution Nietzsche describes as a “slave revolt.” In Shame and Guilt in Shakespeare, I argue that Shakespeare sees the history of ethics in a similar light. Like Nietzsche, Shakespeare is fascinated by the historical rivalry between two incompatible moral paradigms, one emergent, the other obsolescent: the incremental, slow-burning paradigm shift Norbert Elias describes as “the civilizing process.” Over time, Shakespeare suggests, ambition for what he calls “honour” cedes pride of place to a rival imperative: “pity.” Characters such as Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet can be understood as torn between these two very different value-systems. One is Roman, medieval, and aristocratic; the other, modern, Christian, and democratic.

International Collaboration

  • Early Career International Research Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre for the History of Emotions, 1100-1800

Indicators of Esteem

Research Interests

  • Shakespeare
  • Montaigne
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Classical Reception
  • Genre Theory
  • Intellectual History
  • History of Emotions


Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Edited Journal

Journal Article



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