Diana Henderson

Arthur J. Conner Professor - ON LEAVE

Diana E. Henderson received her BA from the College of William & Mary in Virginia and her PhD from Columbia University, and has taught at Columbia, Middlebury College, and since 1995 at MIT. In addition to her ongoing co-editorship of the annual Shakespeare Studies, she has recently co-edited Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy (2021) and the Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Adaptation (2022). Alongside her scholarly writing, she works as a dramaturg and theatrical consultant; her online and performance projects include collaborations with the Royal Shakespeare Company; the Potomac Theater Project; Actors Shakespeare Project; and Compagnia de’ Colombari; and with directors Robert Lepage, Michael Boyd, Cheryl Faraone, Richard Romagnoli and Daniel Kramer. She has produced documentaries based on her projects with Karin Coonrod, with whom she is currently working as dramaturg for the new chamber opera Judith. She co-leads the MIT Global Shakespeares Curriculum Initiative, and was PI in creating the edX/MITx course Global Shakespeares: Re-Creating ‘The Merchant of Venice.’ Henderson enjoys teaching at all levels, including the CI-HW subject for entering students “Writing With Shakespeare,” the IAP study abroad program “Literary London,” and all sorts of drama and advanced seminars for our remarkable undergraduates. She has supervised and served as external examiner for doctoral students in the UK, Australia, and at a number of Boston-area universities. From 2006-2015, Henderson served as MIT’s Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Support.

Diana Henderson interviewed in Weimar, Germany by Cornelia Kaminski for Klett Publishers.


Subjects taught the current academic year:

21L.010[J] Writing with Shakespeare (Fall 2024)

MITx Course Offering21L.010x Global Shakespeares: Re-Creating the Merchant of Venice

Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.010[J] Writing with Shakespeare (Fall 2023)

21L.486 Modern Drama: Gender & Performance (Spring 2023)

21L.591 Literary London (IAP 2024)

21L.591 Literary London (IAP 2023)

Research Interests

I spent much of the pandemic co-editing Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy (2021) and the Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Adaptation (2022); I also found sustenance in the creativity of theater artists turning to Zoom performance and in theaters expanding their digital streaming services. My first book, Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender, and Performance (1995), explored the courtly and professional origins of the great age of poetic drama in English, from Gascoigne and Peele to Marlowe and Shakespeare. I was and remain interested in both the poetics and theater of early modernity, and have written many articles on women’s writing, the flexible form of sonnets, domestic culture, and drama. My second book, Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media (2006), considered not only Shakespeare’s own reimagining of texts and history but also those of major novelists Walter Scott and Virginia Woolf, who reworked elements of his plays to address current matters of race and gender respectively as well as to create their own writerly distinctiveness; I also considered the disturbing aspects of collaboration through Freudian structures reproduced in films of The Taming of the Shrew, and the consequentiality of history’s erasures in Henry V. Many of my more recent articles involve cross-media adaptation as well as stage performance, with particular attention to non-Anglophone production and digital affordances.

I was honored to edit Alternative Shakespeares 3 (2008) and the Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen (2006), before becoming the co-editor of the annual Shakespeare Studies in 2014; this work allows me to mentor and learn from many brilliant colleagues of the next generation, and often to reappraise my scholarly assumptions. I have also enjoyed working more collaboratively on pedagogy, both digitally and residentially, and anchoring imaginative teams creating documentaries, archival modules, and online teaching resources.



The Arden Research Handbook to Shakespeare and Adaptation (co-edited with Stephen O’Neill), Bloomsbury, 2022.

Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy: Case Studies and Strategies (co-edited with Kyle S. Vitale), Bloomsbury, The Arden Shakespeare, 2021.

Shakespeare Studies, Volumes 42-, co-editor (with James S. Siemon), Plainsboro, NJ: Associated University Presses, published annually 2014-present.

Alternative Shakespeares 3, editor, New York and London: Routledge, 2008.

Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006 [paperback release 2012].

A Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen, editor. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender, and Performance. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.


Published Articles:

“Re-generation: Remapping the Screenscape in Fractious Times.” Recontextualizing Indian Shakespeare Cinema in the West: Familiar Strangers, ed. Koel Chatterjee and Varsha Panjwani. Arden/Bloomsbury, 2023: 29-54.

“Ideas for Designing an Affordable New Educational Institution,” Diana Henderson, Daniel Jackson, David Kaiser, S. P. Kothari, and Sanjay Sarma. A Project of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, MIT, published September 27, 2022, online: https://www.projectnei.com/_files/ugd/d859ad_d6ca8f62511b48b0a21ec6eba8e5db84.pdf

“Parted eyes and generation gaps in twenty-first-century perceptions of screen Shakespeare.” for Shakespeare/Sense, ed. Simon Smith, Arden/Bloomsbury, 2020: 319-351.

“Dividing to Conquer or Joining the ReSisters: Shakespeare’s Lady Anne (and Woolf’s Three Guineas) in the Wake of #MeToo.” Shakespeare Survey 72: Shakespeare and War. ed. Emma Smith, 2019: 121-135.

“Romancing King Lear: Hobson’s Choice, Life Goes On, and Beyond,” for Shakespeare on Screen: King Lear. eds. Victoria Bladen, Sarah Hatchuel, and Nathalie Vienne-Guerin. Cambridge University Press, 2019: 125-139.

“‘Hard hearts’ resounding now: anatomising race, resistance and community in The Merchant in Venice (2016) and Julius Caesar (2017),” Cahiers Élisabéthains: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies 99. ed. Pierre Kapitaniak and Aleksandra Sakowska (2019): 173-192.

“De-centring Shakespeare, incorporating Otherness: Diana Henderson in conversation with Koel Chatterjee,” for Eating Shakespeare: Cultural Anthropophagy as Global Methodology, ed. Anne-Sophie Reskou, Marcel Alvaro de Amorim, and Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho, Arden/ Bloomsbury, 2019: 121-135.

See CV for full list of publications.

MITx/Open Learning grant for development of an open-access version of the “Merchant module”, 2019-20.
CAST Visiting Artist grant (sponsor/host/producer) for Director Karin Coonrod, 2019-2020.
MIT Global Classroom Fund Grant for partial support of “Literary London” subject launch, 2017-18; renewal, 2018-19.
Council for the Arts (CAMIT) Grant for partial support of “The Merchant in Venice” project, 2016-17.
Office of Digital Learning MITx Grant, 2015-18.
Honorable Mention, Best Essay competition of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, 2013.
Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2009-2019.
D’Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education, Award recipient, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2021.
Everett Moore Baker Memorial Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2005.
Cambridge-MIT Institute Fellow, 2002-3.
Levitan Prize in the Humanities, 2002.
Jeptha H. and Emily V. Wade Award, 1997-98.
Honorary Visiting Fellow, The Gender in Writing and Performance Research Group, The Open University (United Kingdom), fall 1997.

“Connections and New Directions: Working Differently with MIT’s Global Shakespeares”, panel on “Global Performance and the Digital Archive” for the International Shakespeare Conference: Shakespeare, the Digital, and the Virtual, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK, July 22, 2022.

“Shakespearean Serial Killing, or, Survival Lessons from an Infinite Archive”, for the “Shakespeare’s Seriality” seminar at the University of Konstanz Centre for Cultural Inquiry, Germany, July 16, 2022.

“Garnier’s Les Juifves and Marlowe’s dramatization of religion: how many degrees of separation?” at the “Marlowe and the Topicality of Textual Encounters” Conference, Reims, France, May 17, 2022.

“Performance Transformed in Digital SpaceTime: Cross-cultural Possibilities and Pedagogies”, World Shakespeare Congress 2021, for panel “Indian Shakespeare on Screen: A New Genre?” July 21, 2021.

“Reconceiving Shakespeare in 4-dimensional spacetime: performance, archive, pedagogy,” Shakespearean Studies seminar, The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, November 15, 2019; earlier version given as Keynote address for the AHRC-sponsored international DTP conference at Cambridge University, UK, September 18-20, 2018.

“From Space to Surface and Back Again: Echoing Barbara Hodgdon,” “Archive, Performance, Media: In Tribute to Barbara Hodgdon” panel, “Shakespeare on Screen in the Digital Era: The Montpellier Congress,” Montpellier, France, September 26-28, 2019.

“The Merchant in and out of Venice: how remapping and remediating have transformed performance,” “New Spaces/Places for Shakespeare: Performance and Reproduction,” “Shakespeare and European Geographies” conference of the European Shakespeare Research Association, Rome, Italy, July 9-12, 2019.

“Beyond Boundaries: Gender, Genre and the Consumption of War.” Invited Speaker for “Shakespeare and War,” International Shakespeare Conference, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 22-27, 2018.

“Restaging Edward II: from medieval constitutional crises to 21st-century performance,” International Marlowe Society, Wittenberg, Germany, July 10-13, 2018.

“Shakespeare Unbound: Text, Performance, Pedagogy” (3 versions): 2017-2018 Barrs Series, Northeastern University, April 11, 2018 (with Sarah Connell); “Shakespeare and the Digital Humanities: Old and New Experiments” International Seminar, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, February 21, 2018; and Société Françoise Shakespeare 2018 Conference, Paris, Jan. 18-20, 2018.

“In the Company of Women: Working with Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century,” Phyllis Rackin Lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, November 15, 2017.

“It’s Not About Him: Generation (and Other) Gaps in Viewing Shakespeare Now,” Plenary Address to the International Shakespeare conference, “Interdisciplinary Shakespeare Beyond Theory,” sponsored by the Shakespeare Association of Korea and Chungbuk University, Cheongju, Korea, October 27-28, 2017.

“Hard Hearts and Coronets: Anatomizing Resistance and Community with Shakespeare Now,” Plenary Address for “Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures: AnAtomizing Text and Stage,” ESRA Conference 2017, Gdansk, Poland, July 27-30, 2017.

Filming with Shakespeare: The Merchant in Venice
Judith at MIT
Diana Henderson speaks in the podcast entitled Shakespeare, Woolf, and Shake-shifting, part of a series called Women and Shakespeare. She discusses “Virginia Woolf’s collaborations with Shakespeare, Shakespeare Films, adaptations and Shake-shifting, and collaborative models for the discipline.”