Dr Nicole Sheriko

Fellow Elect
Dr Nicole Sheriko

Nicole Sheriko is a literary scholar and theater historian of Renaissance England. She completed her BA in English at Northwestern University and her PhD in English at Rutgers University. Her current research broadly redefines a field that she calls popular entertainment culture. Though her book projects are focused primarily on English theater history 1450-1700, she has also published on Victorian toy theater, drama pedagogy, and contemporary media culture.

She is currently at work on two monograph projects. The first, Imitating Difference: Renaissance Entertainment Culture and the Ethics of Popular Form evolved from her PhD research. It broadly considers the ethical stakes of formal theatrical technologies by looking at the role of imitation in English Renaissance popular culture. Studies have considered popular culture in relation to the commercial drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but little attention has been paid to the equally popular forms of puppetry, clowning, and animal performance that rivalled and outlasted it.   As emblems of popular culture writ large, these forms illustrate how popular culture, imitation, and marignalized identities share a socially subordinate position in early modern rhetoric. As the book considers how representational technologies encode power structures, it aims to both widen our definition of Renaissance theatricality and consider the cultural stakes of imitation in everyday life.

The second monograph, Staging Popular Medicine, expands Sheriko’s interest in popular theatrical technologies into the history of science and medical humanities to consider the slippage between magic and medicine as embodied theater. Magic and medicine overlap in several types of performances that chart how changing bodies are represented on stage. The book draws on figures like the quack doctor of medieval drama, mountebanks performing illness to sell curative drugs, mentally ill residents of London hospitals as performers, and witches as a distortion of women’s domestic scientific knowledge. As it brings together literary studies with the history of science, this project especially benefits from rare book collections shaped by the legacy of Milton and Darwin at Christ’s.

Sheriko’s research has been internationally recognized for its contributions to literary and more broadly humanistic study.  Her dissertation won a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (awarded to the top 65 US PhDs in humanities and social sciences).  It also earned a spot on the Shakespeare Association of America’s coveted early career plenary panel (designating the top five emerging scholars in the field).  Her research on Renaissance performance and culture has been published or is forthcoming in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Studies, Studies in English Literature, and by invitation in the Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World.  The SEL essay included her discovery of the sole surviving English Renaissance puppetry illustration and won the best new essay award from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society.  She has also published in Nineteenth Century Studies and on pedagogy in How to Teach a Play (Bloomsbury 2020). Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare, Huntington, and Bodleian Libraries, Renaissance Society of America, Mellon Foundation and Corpus Christi College, Oxford.