Dr Harry McCarthy
Dr Harry R. McCarthy is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature. His current research interrogates how early modern children were subject to structures of racial formation and how depictions of childhood in the literature and drama of the period were informed by notions of whiteness. He is also currently writing a new critical introduction to Shakespeare and Peele's Titus Andronicus for the Oxford World's Classics series.
More broadly, Dr McCarthy's academic work to date has centred on early modern theatre and questions concerning the body in performance. His latest monograph, Boy Actors in Early Modern England: Skill and Stagecraft in the Theatre, examines what it meant, and took, to perform as a boy actor on early modern English stages. This work speaks readily to the teaching he contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate modules at Exeter.
When people refer to Dr McCarthy, they use the pronouns he, him, and his. He is committed to anti-racist pedagogy and the diversification of early modern studies, and tweets in a personal capacity at @HarryMcCarthy.
You can find Dr McCarthy in Queen's BG.20. During Term 1 (2023-24) his office hours are Thursday 11am-1pm and Friday 9-10am. You can sign up for an in-person or online office hour here.
My research centres on early modern theatre and questions concerning the body in performance. My latest monograph, Boy Actors in Early Modern England: Skill and Stagecraft in the Theatre, examines what it meant, and took, to perform as a boy actor on early modern English stages. I have a particular interest in non-Shakespearean early modern drama, specialising in underperformed plays by neglected writers: this was the subject of my recent chapter in The Arden Handbook of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama, which is accompanied by an online database of non-Shakespearean productions from the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Revisiting my earlier work on literary and theatrical constructions of early modern childhood and youth has also got me thinking about how the framework of premodern critical race studies might be applied to children in this period, and I am now in the early stages of developing a monograph project titled Early Modern Racial Childhoods, which will interrogate how early modern children were subject to structures of racial formation and how depictions of childhood were informed by notions of whiteness. In addtion to this longer-form project, I am currently writing a new introduction to Titus Andronicus for the Oxford World's Classics series.
Research through practice
A keen theatregoer, I seek wherever possible to engage with contemporary theatre practice in my work. To date, this has involved a longstanding collaboration with the all-boy acting company, Edward's Boys, whose performances of early modern drama are the subject of my 2020 Element for Cambridge University Press. My work frequently connects historical and present-day performances through practice-based research methodologies, and in 2018 I staged a 'Research in Action' workshop on staging sport in the indoor theatre at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Shakespeare's Globe). I also like to support productions of early modern drama whenever I can, usually in the form of pre-show talks (most recently for Rob Myles's The Show Must Go Online Initiative).
I have always enjoyed sharing my research and views on drama, literature, and education through the media. Recent contributions include an interview about my research for the 'A Bit Lit' YouTube Channel, an interview as part of Professor Abigail Williams' Radio 4 'Pride or Prejudice: How We Read Now' series, and, most recently, a contribution to Radio 3's Sunday Feature on the playwright Robert Greene, presented by Professor Nandini Das.
I grew up just outside Oxford, where I attended local comprehensive schools before starting a BA in English and French at Exeter in 2011. I left Exeter in 2015 to pursue an M.St. in English (1550-1700) at the University of Oxford, and returned in 2016 after being awarded a South, West, and Wales DTP PhD scholarship which allowed me to continue to pursue my interests in the training, rehearsal, performance, and afterlives of early modern boy actors. My thesis, "Boy Actors on the Early Modern English Stage: Performance, Physicality, and the Work of Play," became the first by a UK scholar to win the Shakespeare Association of America's J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize in 2021. Between 2020 and 2023, I held a Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge, and returned to Exeter as Lecturer in Early Modern Literature in September 2023.
I was the Performance Reviews Editor for Shakespeare Bulletin until 2017, and also worked as Editorial Assistant for the journal. In 2021, I was appointed to the Advisory Board of Shakespeare Survey. I also serve as the Membership Secretary for the Malone Society.
I am committed to anti-racist pedagogy and advancing racial justice in the field of early modern studies and beyond. You can read my thoughts on the issue here.
My pronouns are he/him/his. I tweet at @HarryMcCarthy.