Tripti Joshi (Editor)

David Bevington

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Name  David Bevington
Role  Scholar

David Bevington lucianuchicagoedublogsnewsfiles201104David

Awards  Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, US & Canada
Edited works  The Necessary Shakespeare
Books  Murder Most Foul: Hamlet T, Shakespeare's Ideas: More Thi, This Wide and Universal, Shakespeare and Biography, Tudor drama and politics
Similar People  Lars Engle, Katharine Eisaman Maus, Stanley Wells, Stephen Orgel, Gary Taylor

Education  Harvard University (1959)

David bevington on shakespeare the tempest

David Martin Bevington (born May 13, 1931) is an American literary scholar. He is Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and in English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, and the College at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1967, as well as chair of Theatre and Performance Studies. "One of the most learned and devoted of Shakespeareans," so called by Harold Bloom, he specializes in British drama of the Renaissance, and has edited and introduced the complete works of William Shakespeare in both the 29-volume, Bantam Classics paperback editions and the single-volume Longman edition. Bevington remains the only living scholar to have personally edited Shakespeare's complete corpus.


He also edits the Norton Anthology of Renaissance Drama and an important anthology of Medieval English Drama, the latter of which was just re-released by Hackett for the first time in nearly four decades. Bevington's editorial scholarship is so extensive that Richard Strier, an early modern colleague at the University of Chicago, was moved to comment: "Every time I turn around, he has edited a new Renaissance text. Bevington has endless energy for editorial projects." In addition to his work as an editor, he has published studies of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and the Stuart Court Masque, among others, though it is for his work as an editor that he is primarily known.

Despite his formal retirement, Bevington continues to teach and publish. Most recently he authored Shakespeare and Biography, a study of the history of Shakespearean biography and of such biographers, as well as Murder Most Foul: Hamlet Through the Ages. In August, 2012, after a decade of research, he released the first complete edition of Ben Jonson published in over a half-century with Ian Donaldson and Martin Butler from the Cambridge Press. In addition to his preeminence among scholars of William Shakespeare, he is a much beloved teacher, winning a Quantrell Award in 1979.

David bevington the complete works of ben jonson

Early life and education

David Bevington was born to Merle M. (1900–1964) and Helen Bevington (née Smith; 1906–2001), and grew up in Manhattan, and from age eleven, North Carolina, when his parents, themselves both academics, finished graduate school at Columbia University and went on to join the faculty at Duke. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy from 1945-8, before it was co-educational, he graduated from Harvard University cum laude in 1952, before entering the navy that year, and becoming a lieutenant junior grade before his leaving in 1955. He saw much of the Mediterranean, though neither Israel nor Turkey. Upon his return to Harvard, he pursued an M.A. and Ph.D., receiving them respectively in 1957 and 1959. Surprisingly, he was well into the graduate process before settling on the Renaissance; he had intended to study the Victorian until a Shakespeare seminar convinced him otherwise.

Teaching and fellowships

During the doctoral process, he was a teaching fellow at Harvard. When he was granted the final degree, his title changed to instructor. He held this post until 1961, when he became Assistant Professor of English at the University of Virginia; he then became Associate Professor in 1964, and Professor in 1966. In 1967, he was a visiting Professor at the University of Chicago for a year, and joined the faculty as Professor in 1968. In 1985 he was appointed to the Phyllis Fay Horton distinguished service professorship in the humanities, a post he has held continuously since that time.

In 1963, he served as visiting professor at New York University's summer school; he filled that capacity at Harvard's summer school in 1967, at the University of Hawaii in 1970, and at Northwestern University in 1974.

In 1979, Bevington was honored with the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The Quantrell Award, for which students of the college nominate their instructors, is considered among the highest accolades the University of Chicago confers, and the most treasured by the faculty.

Bevington served as senior consultant and seminar leader at the Folger Institute in Renaissance and 18th-century Studies from 1976–77 and 1987-88. He has had two Guggenheim fellowships, first in 1964-65, and again in 1981-82. He was a senior fellow at the Southeastern Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies during the summer of 1975. He was appointed the 2006-2007 Lund-Gill Chair in Rosary College of Arts and Sciences at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

Until recently, Bevington has consistently been the instructor of a two-part History and Theory of Drama sequence. This course has been co-taught with actor/translator Nicholas Rudall, dramaturg Drew Dir, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Theater and Performance Studies Heidi Coleman, and actor David New. It is now being taught primarily by Professor John Muse, as Bevington has chosen to decrease his teaching hours and focus on Shakespeare-centric classes. The first quarter of this course spans drama from Greek drama to the Renaissance. The second quarter begins with Ibsen's A Doll's House and ends with the postmodern, including Beckett's Endgame and the work of Pinter and Caryl Churchill. For midterms and finals, students either write a paper critically analyzing a play, or else perform scenes from plays relevant to the course (though not necessarily those read in class). Bevington requires, from those opting to perform, a reflection paper analyzing the challenges of staging the scene.

Bevington has also taught courses entitled "Shakespeare: Histories and Comedies," surveying such plays as Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and Measure for Measure; "Shakespeare: Tragedies and Romances"; and "Shakespeare's History Plays"; among others. When Bevington is not instructing these courses, they are often led by his fellow professors Richard Strier, John Muse, or Tim Harrison. Bevington usually spends Spring Quarter with B.A. theses he is advising, and the corresponding students, or else traveling. However, he has been known to sign up for introductory-level courses in subjects vastly different from his own (such as Greek, or the Natural Sciences).

When possible, Bevington opts to teach class in the large Edward M. Sills Seminar Room, which features a large, oval table accommodating several dozen, rather than in a more traditional classroom in which all the students might face a lectern. He feels this format fosters greater participation and discussion among students, and goes out of his way to encourage the sharing of ideas and opinions. However, because so many students elect to take his popular classes, the room at times becomes overfull.

He has taught a number of other courses:

  • Shakespeare at the Opera (with Philip Gossett)
  • Skepticism and Sexuality in Shakespeare
  • The Young Shakespeare and the Drama that he Knew
  • Shakespeare in the Mediterranean
  • British Theatre (in 2003, during the London study-abroad program the English Department offers every autumn)
  • Renaissance Drama (which pairs five Shakespeare plays with five other plays)
  • Memberships and honors

    Bevington was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1985, and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1986.

    He belongs to a number of academic organizations:

  • American Association of University Professors (acting president, Virginia conference, 1962–63, president, 1963–64)
  • Shakespeare Association of America (president, 1976–77, 1995–96)
  • Renaissance English Text Society (president, 1978–present)
  • Modern Language Association of America
  • Renaissance Society of America
  • Personal life

    David and Margaret Bronson Bevington née Brown ("Peggy") were married on June 4, 1953. Peggy taught primary schoolchildren at the Laboratory School adjacent to the main quadrangles for many years. They live several blocks from the University of Chicago's main campus, and throw a light soirée for his students once per quarter. They have four children: Stephen Raymond, Philip Landon, Katharine Helen, and Sarah Amelia. He also has five grandchildren, two of whom (Laura and Peter) are currently attending the University of Chicago. Laura is an active member of the Dean's Men, a student performance group for which Bevington serves as faculty advisor. In addition to attending all of the Dean's Men productions, Bevington hosts an event each quarter wherein he discusses the text with the cast and staff of the show. Bevington self-identifies as both a Democrat and "lapsed Episcopalian." Bevington's adamant support for exercise is demonstrated in his use of the bicycle as a means of transportation, and when that is made impossible by snow or rain, in his insistence on walking (rather than driving) the requisite distance to campus. He notably also takes public transportation whenever he travels from his Hyde Park home to downtown Chicago. Bevington is left-handed and a concert violist, and he continues to perform in various ensembles, including a quartet involving faculty and students from the university. He enjoys chamber music and opera, and owns a restored pre-World War I Steinway grand piano. The Bevingtons celebrated their sixtieth ("Diamond Jubilee") wedding anniversary on June 4, 2013, at a reception organized by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the program for Theatre and Performance Studies, of which Bevington was formerly the faculty chair.

    As editor

  • Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, Prentice Hall Trade (1968)
  • An Introduction to Shakespeare, Scott, Foresman (1975)
  • Shakespeare: Pattern of Excelling Nature, Associated University Presses (1978)
  • Henry IV, Parts I and II: Critical Essays, Garland (1986)
  • The Politics of the Stuart Court Masque, with Peter Holbrook (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
  • As contributor

  • 'Bring Furth the Pagants': Essays in Early English Drama (University of Toronto Press, 2007)
  • References

    David Bevington Wikipedia