Shakespeare and the Aesthetics of Simple Form
David Nee is a PhD student in English at Harvard University, where he researches and teaches early modern drama, with a focus on Shakespeare. He holds a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. His research interests include book history, narrative theory, the orality-literacy heuristic, the global renaissance, and mobility studies.
My project looks at Shakespeare’s use of folklore narratives and motifs, specifically those he lifted from Italian novella collections (whether directly or from translations). Drawing on André Jolles’s notion of “simple form,” I offer new interpretations of Shakespeare’s novella-plays as complex elaborations of simple story types with deep roots in early modern culture. At the same time, I explore how the new genre of the printed novella collection facilitated the transnational circulation of some of the most popular stories of the English stage.