Category Archives: Publication

A Thesis Abstracted

I found writing up my thesis to be an exciting time. I have always enjoyed writing (hence this blog), but the assembly of so many words, ideas, arguments, was something new to me. For various reasons (publication, the fact I’m writing this before my viva, copyright), I cannot publish the thesis online here. I can, however, offer you my abstract, the document which attempts the probably impossible task of distilling three hundred pages and years of reflection into a mere four hundred words.


This thesis draws the line of a rise and a fall, an ironic pattern whereby the English stage of the long eighteenth century, in its relation to Shakespeare in particular, first acquired powerful influence, and then, through the very effects of that power, lost it. It also shows what contemporary literary criticism might learn from the activities that constitute this arc of evolution.

My first chapter interrogates the relationship between text and performance in vernacular writings about acting and editing from the death of Betterton in 1709 to the rise of Garrick in the middle decades of the century. From the status of a distinct tradition, performance comes to rely on text as a basis for the intimate, personal engagement with Shakespeare believed necessary to the work of the sentimental actor. Such a reliance grants the performer new potential as a literary critic, but also prepares a fall. The performer becomes another kind of reader, and so is open to accusations of reading badly.

My second chapter analyses the evolving definition of Shakespeare as a dramatic author from Samuel Johnson onwards. An untheatrical definition of the dramatic (Johnson’s) is answered by one which recognises the power and vitality of the stage, especially in its representation of sympathetic character (Montagu and Kenrick). Yet that very recognition leads to a set of altered critical priorities in which the theatre is, once more, relegated (Morgann and Richardson).

My third and fourth chapters consider the practices and critical implications of theatrical performance of Shakespeare during Garrick’s career. I focus on the acting of emotion, the portrayal of what Aaron Hill called ‘the very Instant of the changing Passion’, and show that performance of this time, attentive to the striking moment and the transitions that power it, required from the actor both attention to the text and preternatural control over his own emotions. In return, it allowed Garrick and others to claim a special affinity with Shakespeare and to capture the public’s attention, both in the theatre and outside it. Yet this situation, that of ‘twin stars’, does not last. French and German responses to English acting, the concern of my last chapter, show its decline particularly well. They also, however, show the power that existed in such a union between page and stage, and equal weight is given in both my third and my fourth chapter to how the theatrical-literary insights of eighteenth-century critical culture might also illuminate modern approaches.

When does a PhD end?

When does a PhD end? This is a bit of an awkward question. I’ve now handed in my thesis, typed, proofed and bound, and am waiting to have my viva on 2nd October 2015. My PhD isn’t officially over until my examiners, Tiffany Stern and Christopher Tilmouth, decide that my work is good enough and allow me (after completing any corrections) to receive a doctorate at a ceremony most likely due to take place in November 2015 at the earliest.

So my PhD ends in November 2015. Or does it? As far as the University of Cambridge and my college are concerned, my PhD ended when I submitted the thesis: I no longer have to pay college fees or university tuition, and my grant has come to an end as well. This seems right too, particularly as I now live and work several hundred miles away from the Great Saint Mary’s (the traditional point for measuring one’s distance from Cambridge).

So my PhD has already ended. I think my examiners would disagree. And, to be frank, so do I. Indeed, I’m beginning to wonder now if PhDs ever really end, even once has gone through all the rituals of closure. Like others before me, my thesis will hopefully constitute the basis of my first book and my continuing research and teaching interests in the years ahead. Quite how many years that may be, I can’t possibly know, but a quick mental survey indicates that the number is likely to be quite high.

I ask these questions here because this post introduces an already advertised shift in the identity of this blog. Rather than something tied to the trials and tribulations of a PhD, it will become a more general space for academic reflection. As my opening paragraphs have just shown, this might even be a more honest approach to the nature of one’s development as a researcher, which rarely follows the boundaries of administrations or qualifications.

Some changes are in order. They are:

  • A new category “Thesis”, which will replace both the awkward categorisation by chapter, which never really worked, even if it now makes an interesting record of what shape I expected my dissertation to take between 2012 and 2015.
  • Further recategorisation by subject, to make it easier to find material and to connect past and present work. This includes removing the label “Outside thesis”, for obvious reasons.
  • A slightly different look to the website and an update to the master pages (“About”, etc,)


An Article Comes Forth

So, back in the mists of time, back before this blog and even back before the start of this thesis, I decided to read some writing by Madame de Staël. Everyone should do this.

In my case, I read her Corinne, ou l’Italie, her De la littérature and her De lAllemagne. My interest in Shakespeare was already well developed by this time (the bard and I go much further back than the mists of time), and I found much in these texts that caught my interest. Once I was back in Cambridge, and not too deep in my doctoral research, I devoted some time in September 2012 to writing up my thoughts on Staël’s relation to Shakespeare, especially with regard to Corinne. Continue reading An Article Comes Forth

Reprinting lost books…

NOTE: This a reposting of something I wrote a while back, but as the website it is hosted on will soon be closing, I wished (aptly enough) to preserve it here. I’m afraid that the pictures will only last until the host website goes down, since I haven’t been able to extract them easily.

Of late, I’ve had to study many books that have been out of print for a hundred years of more. Some I can find in the reserves of libraries close to me, others have been digitised. However, in neither case is it really possible, I feel, to get to grips with the volume: scribble on it, mark its pages, leave it on your bookshelf until you have a revelation…all this is only possible with a printed edition of your own. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the personal, bespoke republication of an out-of-copyright book is now very easy, This guide will show you how.

For this example, I intend to republish Volume One of Charles Collé’s memoirs on the reign of Louis XV. Any book no longer bound by the copyright laws of your country can be used for this process. To check the copyright status of a book, I recommend asking a librarian or using the Public Domain Calculators.


I – Preliminaries
II – Obtaining a PDF
III – Preparing the PDF
IV – Publishing on
V – Examples

I – Preliminaries

1 – Go to and click on the ‘My Lulu’ tab to create an account.

2 – Click ‘Start a New Project’ on the left, under the ‘My Projects’ headline, then select ‘Hardcover Book’ from the options that appear.

3 – On the next screen, fill in the form using the title and author of your chosen work, then select how visible you wish the final product to be.

4 – Select your preferred Paper Type, Size, Binding and Colour. I recommend ‘Black and White Printing’ for both cost and visibility reasons. Click ‘Save and Continue’.

5 – We now need to obtain an electronic version of the chosen text. Before leaving, note down the page-size of your chosen book type. This will be essential later.

II – Obtaining a PDF

1a – Check to see if the text you wish to publish is online, either after being scanned (which allows a facsimile to be reproduced) or after being treated with an OCR program. I can recommend the following sites for this:

1b – Download it either as a PDF or as a format you can convert to PDF here:

2a – If your chosen text is not online, find a library that has it:

  • Some libraries will be able to produce PDFs for you for a charge
  • Others will only photocopy the work for you

2b – If you have a photocopy of the work, you can convert it to PDF as follows:

  • Either use another photocopier that photocopies to PDF
  • Or, much more laboriously, scan each page, setting the output format to PDF

III – Preparing the PDF

In order for the PDF to be used as the proofs for a book, the page size must be altered to match the format required by at step I.4. In my case, this is 15.24cm x 22.86cm.

1 – Download the free program Primo PDF and install it.

2 – Download Acrobat Reader, if you do not have it already.

3 – Open the PDF of your chosen work in Acrobat Reader, and select File > Print…

4 – Change the Printer to PrimoPDF, then click Properties.

5 – In the ‘Document Properties’ window, go to the Paper/Quality tab and change Color to ‘Black & White’, then click ‘Advanced…’

6 – In the ‘Advanced Options’ window, select ‘PostScript Custom Page Size’, a new window will appear.

7 – In the ‘PostScript Custom Page Size Definition’ window, change the width and the height values to those you noted down from earlier (I.5), then close the window by clicking OK.

(7b – Optional: Back in the ‘Advanced Options’ window, change the ‘Print Quality’ to 96dpi. This prevents the finished PDF from becoming too large.)

8 – Click ‘OK to close ‘Advanced Options’ and click OK to close ‘Document Properties’.

(8b – Optional: If you wish to remove certain pages from the PDF, like the scan of the book cover, use the ‘Pages to Print’ option to create a selection once you’re back in the ‘Print’ window. Note that Adobe Reader’s page-numbering can be confusing: use the preview function and the page numbers inside brackets as a way of guiding you.)

9 – Click Print. This may take some time, and may ask too much of your computer. If the latter is the case, try closing all other programs, and, if the problem persists, consider altering the print quality of the PDF as outlined in step 7b.

10 – When Adobe Reader finishes, Primo PDF appears. Click on the Custom icon.

11 – In the ‘Custom PDF Setting’ window, select ‘Average’ in the Downsampling drop-down menu, and then make sure all images above 70PPI are downsampled to 50PPI (the higher this last number is, the larger the final file).

12 – Click on the ‘Grayscale’ icon and repeat step 11 here. Click OK to close the window.

13 – Click ‘Create PDF’ and choose a suitable filename and location. The conversion process may, again, take some time: ignore Windows’ declarations that Primo PDF is not responding.

14 – Make sure to check how readable your new PDF is: if the text is too blurred, you may have to increase the resolution by reversing steps III.7b and III.11.

15 – Once you have a legible, properly-sized PDF, you’re now ready to republish…

IV Publishing on

There are numerous print-on-demand services available online, and this guide has been using simply because the service is extremely simple and familiar to me. It also has frequent sales, during which time printing costs can drop by 15% or more.

1 – Return to, log in and navigate to the ‘Upload’ screen of your project.

2 – Click on choose file and navigate to your prepared PDF. Then click upload. Once again, this may take a moment. If your file is too big, consider following lulu’s instructions about using FTP.

3 – The rest of the lulu process is fairly self-explanatory, so I’ll finish with a few tips:

  • Make sure you use high-resolution images for your covers. If you need to edit the dimensions of an existing image, consider the freely-available GIMP editor.
  • When publishing the work give as many keywords as possible; if you can, use a CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons licence too.

And that’s everything! If you follow this guide and publish something, do let me know about it. Either by commenting or by telling me on twitter.


Here are a few of my efforts:

The Complete Works of Jean-François Ducis (1827)

Antoine de la Place, Théâtre Anglois (1749)