Associate Professor, English
Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama, British Literature c.1500-1700, Law and Literature, Religion and Literature; the Reformation, Affect and Emotions, Disability Studies, Race and Property Law

Old Main, 202


Penelope Geng is associate professor of English specializing in early modern literature, Shakespeare, law and literature, religion, and disability. Her book Communal Justice in Shakespeare’s England: Drama, Law, and Emotion (2021) argues for the vital work of drama in preserving a culture of participatory justice, communal care, and lay magistracy at a time when the law was becoming professionalized.

Her next project, provisionally titled Disabled by Law traces the legacy of seventeenth-century property law on modern notions of able-bodied citizenship—and the surprising ways that ideology was (and continues to be) contested by the literary imagination. She is the co-founder of Uncommon Bodies, a Twin Cities-based research workshop devoted to sharing knowledge about disability theory, aesthetics, and pedagogy. At Macalester, she teaches classes such as “Shakespeare,” “Once upon a Crime” (an introduction to law and literature), “Major British Authors,” “Disability in the English Renaissance,” and “Demonology.”

Areas of Study

  • Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama
  • British Literature c.1500-1700
  • Law and Literature
  • Religion and Literature; the Reformation
  • Affect and Emotions
  • Disability Studies
  • Race and Property Law

2022-2023 Courses

  • Professor Geng will be on Sabbatical for the 2022-2023 academic year.


Communal Justice in Shakespeare’s England: Drama, Law, and Emotion. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021.

Selected Essays and Articles

“Dressing to Transgress: Aesthetic Matching, Historical Costumers of Color, and the Restorying of Institutional Spaces.” Situating Shakespeare Pedagogy. Ed. Marissa Greenberg and Elizabeth Williamson. Edinburgh University Press. Forthcoming.

“Early Modern Trial by Jury.” The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World. 2022. Published online.

“Jurisprudence by Aphorisms: Francis Bacon and the ‘Uses’ of Small Forms.” Law, Culture and the Humanities. 18.3 (2022). First published Jan. 31, 2019.  

“On Judges and the Art of Judicature: Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2.” Studies in Philology 114.1 (2017): 97-123.

“Before the Right to Remain Silent: The Examinations of Anne Askew and Elizabeth Young.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 43.3 (2012): 667-679.

“‘He Only Talks’: Arruntius and the Formation of Interpretive Communities in Ben Jonson’s Sejanus.” The Ben Jonson Journal 18.1 (2011): 126-140.

Selected Book Reviews

Katherine Schaap Williams. Unfixable Forms: Disability, Performance, and the Early Modern English Theater. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021. Modern Philology. Published online.

Selected Fellowships and Grants

  • Paul O. Kristeller Fellowship, Renaissance Society of America, 2022.
  • UMN Center for Premodern Studies, Research Workshop Grant for “Uncommon Bodies” (year 1, 2, 3, and 4) with Jennifer Row (French), 2019-present. Twitter @uncommonbodies.
  • Macalester, Itzkowitz Solon Warde Grant for Course Development, “Once upon a Crime,” 2020.
  • The Huntington Library, Francis Bacon Foundation Fellowship, 2019.
  • The Huntington Library, Francis Bacon Foundation Fellowship, 2014.
  • Mellon Academy for Advanced Study in the Renaissance Research Fellowship, 2014.
  • USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, Dissertation Fellowship, 2012-13.


Personal Website: 


BA (Honors) in English: University of Toronto
MA in Humanities: University of Chicago
MA in English: University of Southern California
PhD in English: University of Southern California