W439 South College

Faculty Bio

Marjorie Rubright joined the University of Massachusetts Amherst English faculty in 2017. Prior to her arrival, she was Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto. Her areas of research and teaching specializations focus on the early modern world and include English literature and culture, race and ethnicity studies, trans* studies, lexical culture and the new philologies, eco-criticism, and critical approaches to the study of the global renaissance. Committed to developing collaborative models for innovative cross-disciplinary research and public exchange, Marjorie has founded and partnered on a number of long-term scholarly and artistic projects.


See the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies website.

Current Research Projects

A World of Words: Language, Earth and Embodiment in the Renaissance

My current book project traces the earthly substrates of renaissance lexical culture. In its broadest strokes, the book examines period-specific ways of thinking about human sameness and difference that emerge when one attends to how language and linguistic identity are imaginatively linked not only to ethnicized and racialized human bodies, but also to a diversity of earthly matter. In it, I investigate how lexicographers, language instructors, antiquarians, chorographers, horticulturists, as well as dramatists and poets, variously conceived of the relationships between language, earth, and embodiment, ultimately developing a mode of thinking that I characterize as early modern "geo-linguistics."

Logomotives: Words that Change the World — Co-Editor with Stephen Spiess.

Bearing a wide range of linguistic, regional, and disciplinary expertise, the volume’s twenty-six contributors traverse multiple geographies (Asia, Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Europe, & the Americas), work across fifteen languages, and span from antiquity to our current moment. Contributors advance new developments in philologies of race, in queer-, feminist-, trans*-, transnational-, and postcolonial philologies to discover the world-transforming work performed by words and to curate new ways of thinking about the crosscurrents of words-, bodies-, affects-, and knowledges-in-motion.

The Renaissance of the Earth — Founding Director

The Renaissance of the Earth revolutionizes what it means to engage the early modern past with questions about our environmental future. Crucially, we are committed to exploring those connections that present us with the most challenging legacies: extractive colonialism, racism, forced human migration, and the asymmetries of environmental devastation around the globe. Through a range of interdisciplinary research collaborations, undergraduate and graduate courses, hands-on workshops, conferences, and arts programming, it puts students, artists, and scholars at the center of an interdisciplinary research project with the goal of discovering diverse avenues for creating sustainable and equitable life.

The Anthropocene Lab — Member, Research Team

At UMass Amherst, an interdisciplinary group of humanists, scientists, social scientists, and artists seek new interdisciplinary narratives about the Anthropocene in an effort to engage the deep past and shared futures, humans and non-human communities.

Curator: Special Exhibits

Shakespeare Unbound
Co-Curator & Program Organizer. Campuswide Special Exhibit. UMass Amherst, 2023-2024.
What happens when Shakespeare appears in fragments or as momentary flashes in history? With selections from the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center, the works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Phillis Wheatley, and others are joined in conversation with William Shakespeare. At the Kinney Center, exhibits rotate throughout the academic year ranging in topic from “Arctic Shakespeare” to “Shakespeare in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” Co-Curators: Kirstin Kay and Joe Black. For all scholarly, arts, and public programming related to this exhibit, visit: Shakespeare Unbound and this news story.

"Shakespeare, Race, and America . . . not necessarily in that order."
Curator & Program Co-Organizer. UMass Amherst 2018.
A collaborative series of arts programming with Mt. Holyoke College featuring Keith Hamilton Cobb's American Moor (Nov 7 – 14, 2018). Performance, Artist Campus Residency, Public Talk, Actor’s Studio & Scholarly Round Table. Keynote: Kim F. Hall. Special Exhibit at the Kinney Center, Fall 2018.

‘So Long Lives This’: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works, 1616-2016.
Co-Curator, Special Exhibit. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Winter 2016. Co-curators: Scott Schofield, Peter Blayney, and Alan Galey. Listen to the audio tour.

Recent and Select Publications

Doppelgänger Dilemmas: Anglo-Dutch Relations in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

‘So Long Lives This’: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works, 1616-2016.
Coauthor with Scott Schofield, Alan Galey, and Peter Blayney. Exhibition Catalogue (PDF), 25 January – May 28, 2016. (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, 2016) — Winner of the 2017 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab Award Association of College and Research Libraries, Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. Exhibition.

‘American Moor’: Othello, Race and the Conversations Here and Now. Co-authored with Amy Rodgers. Teaching Race in the European Renaissance: A Classroom Guide. Eds. Anna Wainwright and Matthieu Chapman. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2023. 469-87.

“Transgender Capacity in Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middelton’s The Roaring Girl (1611).” Special Issue: Early Modern Trans Studies. Eds. Simone Chess, Colby Gordon, Will Fisher. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 19.4 (2020): 45-74.

“Becoming Scattered: The Case of Iphis’s Trans*version and the Archipelogic of John Florio’s Worlde of Wordes.” Ovidian Transversions: ‘Iphis and Ianthe’, 1300-1650. Ed. Valerie Traub, Patricia Badir, and Peggy McCracken. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019: 118-149.

“Incorporating Kate: The Myth of Monolingualism in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth.” The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Embodiment: Gender, Sexuality, and Race. Ed. Valerie Traub. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016: 468-490.

Courses Recently Taught

Graduate seminars:
Trans Embodiments of the Early Modern World
The Renaissance of the Earth
Renaissance Keywords and the New Queer Philology

Island Fictions: From Paradise to Ice
Shakespeare's Global Afterlives
Early British Literature and Culture to 1700: The World, the Word, and the Wanderer
& the department's Shakespeare lecture


PhD in English, University of Michigan
MA in English Literature and Traditional Oral Poetics, University of Missouri-Columbia
BA in ancient Greek, Vassar College