Associate Professor Liam Semler

Associate Professor Liam Semler

BA(Hons), PhD Macquarie.
Associate Professor

+61 2 9351 6852

My primary research interests are: Shakespeare pedagogy and the teaching and learning of literature at school and university; the classical inheritance in English Renaissance literature; early modern women’s writing; and early modern literature and the visual arts with particular reference to ‘mannerism’ and the ‘grotesque’ from 1500-1700.

I convene the Early Modern Literature and Culture research cluster.

Current projects

  • Shakespeare Reloaded: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning Shakespeare in Australian Universities and Secondary Schools (ARC Linkage Project, 2008-10). This is a collaborative project between the English Department, University of Sydney, and Barker College (Hornsby, NSW). We are currently developing the Shakespeare Reloaded website.
  • ‘The Early Modern Grotesque: English Sources and Documents.’ This project is to create a fully annotated, chronologically arranged, sourcebook of primary resources relating to the grotesque as defined in English literature 1500-1700.
  • ‘Margaret Cavendish’s Early Works.’ This project explores the philosophical and poetic engagements of Cavendish’s early works (from 1649-56).

Selected publications


  • Word and Self Estranged in English Texts 1550-1660. Philippa Kelly and L. E. Semler (eds.). (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010).
  • Eliza’s Babes; Or The Virgin’s Offering, Early Modern Englishwoman Facsimiles of Essential Works, Printed Writings 1641-1700: Series II, Part 2, Volume 3 (Aldershot: Ashgate, May 2003).
  • Eliza’s Babes; Or The Virgin’s Offering (1652): A Critical Edition (New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001).
  • The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts (New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘Margaret Cavendish’s Early Engagement with Descartes and Hobbes: Philosophical Revisitation and Poetic Selection,’ Intellectual History Review (forthcoming).
  • [co-authored with Shauna Colnan] ‘Shakespeare Reloaded (2008-10): A School and University Literature Research Collaboration.’ Australian Literary Studies (for Schools) (forthcoming).
  • ‘The Magnetic Attraction of Margaret Cavendish and Walter Charleton.’ In Early Modern Women Testing Ideas, ed. Paul Salzman. Ashgate, forthcoming.
  • ‘The Ruins of Persepolis: Grotesque Perception in Thomas Herbert’s Travels.’ In Word and Self Estranged in English Texts 1500-1660, ed. Philippa Kelly and L. E. Semler. Ashgate, 2010.
  • ‘The Shakespeare Reloaded Bard Blitz: A Literary Analysis and Essay Building Module,’ mETAphor (issue 4, 2009): 30-44.
  • ‘Virtue, Transformation and Exemplarity in The Lyfe of Johan Picus.’ In A Companion to Thomas More, ed. A. D. Cousins and Damian Grace. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009. Pp. 95-113.
  • ‘Designs on the Self: Inigo Jones, Marginal Writing and Renaissance Self-Assembly,’ in Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, ed. Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, Philippa Kelly (University of Michigan Press, 2006), pp. 252-67.
  • ‘Robert Dallington’s Hypnerotomachia and the Protestant Antiquity of Elizabethan England,’ Studies in Philology 103.2 (2006): 208-41.
  • ‘A Proximate Prince: The Gooey Business of Hamlet Criticism,’ Sydney Studies in English 32 (2006): 97-122.
  • ‘Bibliography,’ The Cambridge Companion to John Donne, ed. Achsah Guibbory (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 259-77.
  • ‘Marlovian Therapy: The Chastisement of Ovid in Hero and Leander,’ English Literary Renaissance 35.2 (2005): 159-86.
  • 'Mapping the Grotesque' in Travel and Travellers from Bede to Dampier, ed. G.Barnes and G.Singleton. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005, pp.177-206.
  • ‘Breaking the Ice to Invention: Henry Peacham’s The Art of Drawing (1606)’ The Sixteenth Century Journal, 35, pp 735-50. 2004
  • ‘Antique-Work and Naked Boys: Animating the Tudor-Stuart Grotesque’ Parergon, 21, pp 85-111. 2004
  • 'Eliza’s Babes', in Reading Early Modern Women: Texts in Manuscript and Print 1500-1700, ed. Helen Ostovich, Elizabeth Sauer, and Melissa Smith (Routledge and McMaster University, 2004), pp. 158-61,384-85.
  • ‘Creative Adoption in Eliza’s Babes (1652): Puritan Refigurations of Sibbes, Herbert and Herrick,’ in Centered on the Word: Literature, Scripture, and the Tudor-Stuart Middle Way, ed. Daniel Doerksen and Christopher Hodgkins (Delaware University Press, 2004), pp. 319-45.
  • ‘Inigo Jones, Capricious Ornament, and Plutarch’s Wise Man’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 66, pp 123-42. 2003
  • ‘Mannerist Donne: Showing Art in the Descriptive Verse Epistles and Elegies,’ in Donne and the Resources of Kind, ed. A.D. Cousins and Damian Grace, (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002), 40-58.
  • ‘What God hath Joined let no Man Separate: Eliza’s Babes and the Puritan Double Marriage,’ Ben Jonson Journal 9 (2002): 171-91.
  • ‘Stephen Bateman,’ in Tudor England: An Encyclopedia, ed. David Swain and A.F. Kinney. (Garland, 2001), 67-68.
  • ‘The Creed of Eliza’s Babes (1652): Nakedness, Adam and Divinity,’ Albion 33.2 (2001): 185-217.
  • ‘Who is the Mother of Eliza’s Babes (1652)? "Eliza," George Wither and Elizabeth Emerson,’ Journal of English and Germanic Philology 99.4 (2000): 513-36.
  • ‘The Protestant Birth Ethic: Aesthetic, Political and Religious Contexts for Eliza’s Babes (1652),’ English Literary Renaissance 30.3 (2000): 432-56.
  • ‘Richard Lovelace and the Mannerist Grotesque,’ AUMLA 85 (May 1996): 69-82.
  • ‘Robert Herrick, the Human Figure, and the English Mannerist Aesthetic,’ Studies in English Literature 35 (Winter 1995): 105-121.
  • ‘Marvell’s Mannerist Scepticism: A Reading of "Mourning.’" English 44 (1995): 214-28.
  • ‘Robert Herrick’s God: Visual Aesthetics in Noble Numbers,’ Parergon n.s. 12.1 (July 1994): 39-56.
  • ‘John Donne and the Early Maniera,’ John Donne Journal 12.1-2 (1993): 41-66.

Areas of teaching and Specific Topics


  • Medieval and Renaissance English literature and culture.
  • ENGL 1002 Narratives of Romance and Adventure
  • ENGL 2663 Virtual Renaissance
  • ENGL 3651 Christopher Marlowe
  • ENGL 6982 Shakespeare and Modernity
  • ENGL 6985 Shakespeare and his Contemporaries