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Elizabeth Mazzola

Faculty and Staff Profiles

Elizabeth Mazzola

Professor; Department Chair
Director of Undergraduate Studies, English Department

NAC 6/217B
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My work explores forces that disturb or challenge early modern cultural norms and traditions—the rival voices of women, the pressure private spaces put on public structures, the ways that Catholic symbols continue to shape meaning and organize desire in the sixteenth century imagination. This study is interdisciplinary, and I frequently draw on research into geography, political science, queer theory, feminist theory, sociology, and anthropology as a way to grasp how early modern writers mapped their world and arranged its claims. Increasingly this work includes looking at medieval texts, too; and sometimes my research brings me over to the New World in an effort to see how ideas about early modern authority and community, God and female agency helped to map the Americas.

I write about Shakespeare and Spenser and Sidney, as well as about early women writers with whom we are less familiar—figures like Margaret Cavendish, Isabella Whitney, Mary Wroth, and Martha Moulsworth. I am also interested in the rise of literacy and its changing meanings; the education of young women, including Pocahontas; the rules of belonging and exclusion articulated on the early modern stage; and how different writing technologies--including codes and ciphers, handlettered alphabets and printed typefaces--come together or collide in early modern texts. My current project explores female agency and mobility on Shakespeare's stage, proposing that his plays not only describe and insist upon women's uneasy relation to the home, but also represent domestic space as managed and troubled by its abject inmates.


B.A. University of Virginia
M.A., Ph.D., New York University



My publications include four books: Learning and Literacy in Female Hands, 1520-1698 (Ashgate, 2013); Women's Wealth and Women's Writing in Early Modern England (Ashgate, 2009); Favorite Sons: The Politics and Poetics of the Sidney Family (Palgrave, 2003);The Pathology of the English Renaissance: Sacred Remains and Holy Ghosts (Brill, 1998), as well as book chapters and essays in journals like Genre, Exemplaria, Early Modern Women, Critical Survey, The Sidney Journal, and The Huntington Library Quarterly. Awards include a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship, a fellowship at the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Isabel MacCaffrey Medal (awarded by the Spenser Society for the Best Essay of the Year on Edmund Spenser), and a City College Outstanding Mentoring Award.

Research Interests

Early women writers
Early modern mobility and agency
Early modern pedagogy
Orality and Literacy   

Courses Taught

Female Mobility in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Imagining the Queen: Representations of Elizabeth Tudor
The Dark Lady
Spenser and Milton
Mothers and Monsters in Medieval Literature
Knights and Mystics
Shakespeare: Early and Late Plays
Early Women Writers from the 8th-17th Century  

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