Professor of English
General Editor, New Variorum Shakespeare
- BA (Hons) from King's University College at The University of Western Ontario,
- MA from The University of Western Ontario,
- PhD from The University of South Carolina.
Dr. Werstine's major research interests are Shakespeare and the editing of the plays and poems attributed to him, especially the plays that had become available by 1623 in more than one text— King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and others. He has been at work editing the Shakespeare plays and poems for the past twenty years in the Folger Library Shakespeare edition. The last book in the series, The Two Noble Kinsmen, was published in 2010, when a second edition began to be published with The Merchant of Venice. But his interest does not stop with Shakespeare: it involves the plays of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by other dramatists, many of them anonymous, particularly if these plays survive in manuscript. Beyond these specialized interests are those in the reception of Shakespeare and his contemporaries between their time and ours, as well as broader issues in editorial theory. As general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare edition, he is working daily on the reception history of the plays because it is the ambition of that series to include as much of that history as possible and, more recently, to display that history in the electronic medium.
The Folger Shakespeare Library edition of Shakespeare: an edition of forty-two volumes that includes the plays and poems attributed to Shakespeare and present them in a way accessible to a wide readership. It breaks new ground in its typographical arrangement of the plays that survive in multiple texts.
Positions and Honours
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Humanities) 2010
- King's University College Award for Excellence in Teaching 2003
- Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America, elected for the term 1994-97.
- Member of the MLA Committee supervising the New Variorum Shakespeare Edition, 1986--.
- General Editor (with Richard Knowles) of the New Variorum Shakespeare Edition. 1997--.
- Member of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Panel on Standard Research Grants, 2000-2.
- Director of Summer 1988 Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC Post-graduate NEH Summer Institute, entitled "New Directions in Shakespeare"
The New Variorum Shakespeare edition, published by the Modern Language Association of America, Dr. Werstine's volume-in-progress for which is Romeo and Juliet. This edition attempts to capture the entire reception history of a particular Shakespeare play, everything that has been said about the text and the meanings that can be made of it, every major editor's version of this text, the sources for the play, its history of production on the stage and the alterations made to its text for these productions. The most exciting current developments in this edition involve its electronic presentation, and the innovations are the work of Dr. Alan Galey, who holds a PhD from Western and an assistant professorship at the University of Toronto.
Selected Recent Publications
- Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- Co-editor (with Barbara A. Mowat). The Folger Shakespeare Library edition. 42 vols. New York: Washing Square, 1992-2010.
Co-general editor (with Richard Knowles of U of Wisconsin—Madison). The Winter's Tale. A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare. Ed. Robert Kean Turner and Virginia Westling Haas. New York: MLA, 2005.
"Narratives about Printed Shakespeare Texts: 'Foul Papers' and 'Bad' Quartos." Shakespeare Quarterly 41 (1990): 65-86.
"A Century of 'Bad' Shakespeare Quartos." Shakespeare Quarterly 50 (1999): 310-33.
"Editing Shakespeare and Editing Without Shakespeare: Wilson, McKerrow, Greg, Bowers, Tanselle, and Copy-Text Editing.” TEXT 13 (2000): 27-54.
"Shakespeare." Scholarly Editing: A Guide to Research. Ed. David Greetham. New York: MLA, 1995. Pp. 253-282.
“Plays in Manuscript.” A New History of Early English Drama. Ed. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Pp. 481-97.
“‘Is it upon record?’: the Reduction of the History Play to History.” New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, II: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society 1992-1996. Ed. W. Speed Hill. Tempe, Arizona: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, in conjunction with the Renaissance English Text Society, 1998. Pp. 71-82.
- “"'The Cause of This Defect': Hamlet's Editors." In Hamlet: New Critical Essays. Ed. A. F. Kinney. London: Routledge, 2002. Pp. 115-34.
- "Close Contrivers: Nameless Collaborators in Early Modern London Plays." The Elizabethan theatre XV: Papers given at the International Conference on Elizabethan Theatre held at the University of Waterloo, in the 1990s. Ed. A. L. Magnusson and C. E. McGee. Toronto: Meany, 2002. Pp. 3-20.
- "Margins to the Centre: REED and Shakespeare." REED in Review. Ed. Sally-Beth MacLean and Audrey Stanley. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006. Pp. 101-15.
"The Science of Editing." A Concise Companion to Shakespeare and the Text. Ed. Andrew Murphy. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007. Pp. 109-27.