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About Arthur Kinney

Arthur F. Kinney is Thomas W. Copeland Professor of Literary History and Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From the start, his archival and scholarly work in the Renaissance has been interdisciplinary. Humanist Poetics redefines the rise of English fiction in the context of intellectual, educational, and rhetorical history; Continental Humanist Poetics studies the works of major Renaissance writers in Italy, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. His book on the poet John Skelton demonstrates how the Catholic liturgy shaped that preReformation poet’s work. His book on Macbeth examines the cultural moment of the play’s composition and first performances, finding in social and political history, religious thought, military life, and the supernatural beliefs of the time revisionary ways to understand the script in its early presentations.
He has transcribed Nicholas Hillyard’s The Arte of Lymning from the unique Edinburgh Library manuscript with prefatory commentary on its place in art theory both in England and in Europe. The author or editor of more than thirty books, some of his assembled documents—such as his editions of political documents in Elizabethan Background, his listing of state and church officers in Titled Elizabethans, and his collection of Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars, all from original documents – have served not only scholars but teachers for more than three decades and some have gone into multiple editions.
He is also the editor of works now considered basic reference books: Tudor England: An Encyclopedia; A Companion to Renaissance Drama; and the Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Literature 1500-1600. In addition, he served for more than twenty years founding and editing the Twayne English Authors in the Renaissance, commissioning and editing some 73 books. He is the Founding Editor of the journal English Literary Renaissance, which began publication in 1971; there too he saw that while English literature was the focus European contexts were constantly put into play. For the past 10 years he has been the President of the Renaissance English Text Society, overseeing annual publications of new editions or transcriptions of rare books and manuscripts, and on the Executive Councils of the Renaissance Society of America and the Folger Shakespeare Library Institute.
During the past ten years, he has also been the Editor of a book series Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture for the University of Massachusetts Press. He sits on many editorial boards of journals and reads regularly for the major university presses, motivated by finding new voices as well as new ideas. He is the recipient of many fellowships including Fulbright Professor at Christ Church and New College, Oxford, and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Leiden and the University of Liverpool. He has also received a number of research grants; at present, he is the co-principal investigator of the first collaborative grant sponsored by the American and Australian governments. In 1973, he was named Adjunct Professor of English at Clark University and since 1990 Adjunct Professor of English at New York University.
His current interests are the performance of Renaissance drama; the development of Renaissance English poetry and fiction; the history of the book and of reading and literacy; and the use of cognitive theory in understanding the early modern period, which has led to Shakespeare’s Webs to be published in October 2004 by Routledge. Blackwell will publish the second edition of Renaissance Drama: An Anthology of Drama and Entertainments with ten new texts in December 2004. His book Shakespeare by Stages is now in its fourth printing.
Besides the early modern period, he has published several books on William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Dorothy Parker and has a strong interest in American literature in the twentieth century.


Present Professor, Department of English, College of Humanities & Fine Arts, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Honors and Awards

  • Fulbright Fellowship, 1973

Contact Information

255 Bartlett Hall
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst MA, 01003
Tel: 413-545-6596
Fax: 413-545-3880


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