Associate Professor Liam Semler

BA (Hons) PhD Macq.
Chair of Department

A20 - John Woolley Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 6852

Biographical details

I teach, supervise and research widely in the field of early modern English literature. I was director of the Medieval and Early Modern Centre in 2012-13 and president of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association from 2009-13. I have held visiting fellowships at the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, the University of Nottingham and Oxford Brookes University. I am currently Chair of the Department of English.

My research activity has three main areas of focus: pedagogy in literary studies at school and university; English women’s writing of the mid-seventeenth century; and early modern English literature and the visual arts.

My research into pedagogy addresses the problem of how creativity and innovation operate within formal educational systems. Key to this is understanding the entanglement of educators and students in neoliberal, managerial and standardized teaching and learning contexts. My book, Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe: Learning vs the System (2013) is an attempt to understand this context. The book draws on my experience as part of a long-running collaborative research project with a Sydney school. The project began as ‘Shakespeare Reloaded’ in 2008, became ‘Better Strangers’ (2011-13) and now continues in its third phase as ‘Better Strangers 2’ (2014-16). The project co-hosted: the ‘Unlearning Shakespeare’ symposium at Oxford Brookes (2012); the ‘Radical Shakespeare Pedagogy’ roundtable at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2012), and a conference on Shakespeare and learning (Sydney, 2010) with the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association which led to the book, Teaching Shakespeare beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives (2013).

I am also interested in English women’s writing in the 1650s. I began by researching aesthetic, political and religious contexts for the anonymous Puritan woman’s book, Eliza’s Babes or the Virgin’s Offering (1652). More recently I have been considering the early works of Margaret Cavendish in terms of how she accesses natural philosophical knowledge from the late 1640s to mid-1650s.

From my earliest academic writing onward I have been fascinated by the interconnections between early modern literature and the visual arts. This began with my book The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts (1998) which approached metaphysical and cavalier verse through the inter-art lens of mannerist style. More recently, I have spent a lot of time, and numerous articles and chapters, trying to understand how early modern English writers understand the idea of the ‘grotesque.’ I am completing an annotated sourcebook of English texts that define, apply and explore the term from 1500-1700.

Research interests

  • 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
  • Early modern literature and the visual arts with particular reference to ‘mannerism’ and the ‘grotesque’ from 1500-1700.

Teaching and supervision

Medieval and Renaissance English literature and culture.

  • ENGL 1002 Narratives of Romance and Adventure
  • ENGL 2650 Reading Poetry
  • ENGL 2658 Love and Desire in Early Modern England
  • ENGL 2663 Virtual Renaissance
  • ENGL 3651 Christopher Marlowe
  • ENGL 6982 Shakespeare and Modernity
  • ENGL 6985 Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

I welcome inquiries from potential postgraduate students who might be interested to pursue thesis work in any aspect of early modern English literature (my specialist period is 1500-1700). Some of the research areas explored by my current and recently graduated students include: poetry and philosophy in the work of Francis Bacon; spying and surveillance in the works of Shakespeare; Shakespeare and complexity theory; Shakespeare in present-day prison theatre; Shakespeare and pedagogy at school and university; and English translations of Hugo Grotius' religious drama. I am especially keen to supervise students who may wish to research visual arts and literature in the period; or women's writing in the period.

Current projects

  • ‘Better Strangers: Creativity and Complexity in Literature and Drama Learning’ (2011-13). This is a collaborative research project between some members of the English Department, University of Sydney, and the school Barker College (Hornsby). The project explores novel and imaginative approaches to teaching and learning in formal contexts such as schools and universities. It is a sequel to the ‘Shakespeare Reloaded’ linkage project (2008-10).
  • ‘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).

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2012

  • Putting Periodisation to Use: Exploring the Limits of Early Modernity; Gagne J, Gal O, Gaukroger S, Griffiths H, Maddox A, McIlvenna U, Parsons N, Semler L; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/FASS Collaborative Research Scheme.

2011

  • Better Strangers: Creativity and Complexity in Literature and Drama Learning; Semler L, Christie W, Gay P, Flaherty K; Barker College/Research Support.

2008

  • Shakespeare Reloaded: Innovative Approaches to Shakespeare and Literature Research In Australian Universities and Secondary Schools; Colnan S, Semler L, Gay P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).

2006

  • Womens poetry and classicism in early modern England, 1500-1700; Semler L; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2001

  • Renaissance Grotesque: An historical analysis of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literary and visual definitions of the grotesque; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Australian Research Fellowship/Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship.

Selected publications

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Books

  • Semler, L. (2013). Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe: Learning vs. the System. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Eliza's Babes; Or The Virgin's Offering, Early Modern Englishwoman Facsimiles of Essential Works, Printed Writings 1641-1700. London: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2001). Eliza's Babes or the Virgin's Offering: A Critical Edition. United States: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Semler, L. (1998). The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses.

Edited Books

  • Shaw, J., Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2013). Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Flaherty, K., Gay, P., Semler, L. (2013). Teaching Shakespeare Beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semler, L., Hodge, B., Kelly, P. (2012). What is the Human? Australian Voices from the Humanities. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.
  • Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2010). Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660. Surrey, UK: Ashgate.

Book Chapters

  • Semler, L. (2013). 'Fortify yourself in your decay': Sounding Rhyme and Rhyming Effects in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In Jonathan Post (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare's Poetry, (pp. 449-466). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2013). Emergence in Ardenspace: Shakespeare pedagogy, As You Like It, and modus Iferandi. In Kate Flaherty, Penny Gay, L E Semler (Eds.), Teaching Shakespeare Beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives, (pp. 97-107). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semler, L. (2013). Stories of Selves and Infidels: Walter Charleton's Letter to Margaret Cavendish (1655). In Jan Shaw, Philippa Kelly, L E Semler (Eds.), Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches, (pp. 191-210). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semler, L. (2012). "Loe an antick Persian": Orienting Anticality in Thomas Herbert's Travels (1634, 1638, 1664). In Matthias Bauer, Rudiger Pfeiffer-Rupp, Claudia Sasse and Ursula Wienen (Eds.), Sprache, Literatur, Kultur: Translatio delectat: Festschrift fur Lothar Cerny zum 65. Geburtstag, (pp. 141-156). Berlin: LIT Verlag.
  • Semler, L. (2011). The magnetic attraction of Margaret Cavendish and Walter Charleton. In Jo Wallwork and Paul Salzman (Eds.), Early Modern Englishwomen Testing Ideas, (pp. 55-72). England: Ashgate.
  • Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2010). Introduction: Word and self estranged: topographies of meaning in Early Modern England. In Philippa Kelly and Liam Semler (Eds.), Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660, (pp. 1-11). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2010). The Ruins of Persepolis: Grotesque Perception in Thomas Herbert's Travels. In Philippa Kelly and Liam Semler (Eds.), Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660, (pp. 33-59). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2009). Virtue Transformation and Exemplarity in the Lyfe of Johan Picus. In Cousins, A~Grace, Damian~ (Eds.), A Companion to Thomas More, (pp. 95-113). USA: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Designs on the Self: Inigo Jones, Marginal Writing and Renaissance Self-Assembly. In Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, Philippa Kelly (Eds.), Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, (pp. 252-267). Ann Arbor MI USA: University of Michigan Press.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Select Bibliography. In Achsah Guibbory (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne, (pp. 259-277). UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2005). Mapping the Grotesque: Inventing and possessing the world in Early-Modern England. In Geraldine Barnes (with Gabrielle Singleton) (Eds.), Travel and Travellers from Bede to Dampier, (pp. 177-206). Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK): Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Creative Adoption In Eliza's Babes (1652): Puritan Refigurations Of Sibbes, Herrick, And Herbert. In D. Doerksen and C. Hodgkins (Eds.), Centered on the Word: Literature, Scripture, and the Tudor-Stuart Middle Way, (pp. 319-345). Newark USA: University of Delaware Press.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Eliza's Babes. In Helen Ostovich and Elizabeth Sauer (Eds.), Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print 1550-1700, (pp. 384-385). London and New York: Routledge imprint of Taylor & Francis.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Introductory Note. In Betty S.Travitsky; Anne L.Prescott; Robert C. Evans (Eds.), The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works: Series II: Printed Writings, 1641-1700: Part 2, (pp. ix-xvii). UK: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2002). Mannerist Donne: Showing Art in the Descriptive Verse Epistles and Elegies. In A.D. Cousins and Damian Grace (Eds.), Donne and the Resources of Kind, (pp. 40-58). United States: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Journals

  • Semler, L. (2012). Margaret Cavendish's Early Engagement with Descartes and Hobbes: Philosophical Revisitation and Poetic Selection. Intellectual History Review, 22(3), 327-353. [More Information]
  • Semler, L. (2009). The Shakespeare reloaded Bard Blitz: a literary analysis and essay building module. Metaphor, (4), 30-44.
  • Semler, L. (2006). A Proximate Prince: The Gooey Business of 'Hamlet' Criticism. Sydney Studies in English, 32, 97-122.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Review: Psalm Culture and Early Modern English Literature. Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, 12(1), 1-9.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Robert Dallington’s Hypnerotomachia and the Protestant Antiquity of Elizabethan England. Studies in Philology, 103(2), 208-241.
  • Semler, L. (2005). Marlovian Therapy: The Chastisement of Ovid in Hero and Leander. English Literary Renaissance, 35(2), 159-186.
  • Semler, L. (2005). Review: Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England. Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, 11(1).
  • Semler, L. (2004). Antique-Work And Naked Boys: Animating The Tudor-Stuart Grotesque. Parergon, 21(1), 85-111.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Breaking The Ice To Invention: Henry Peacham's The Art Of Drawing (1606). Sixteenth Century Journal: journal of early modern studies, 35(3), 735-750.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Inigo Jones, Capricious Ornament And Plutarch's Wise Man. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 66, 123-142.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Postmodern Renaissance. Metascience, 12(3), 385-388.
  • Semler, L. (2002). Review: The Touch of the Real. Australian Humanities Review, 2002 (26).
  • Semler, L. (2002). What God Hath Joined, Let No Man Separate Eliza's Babes and the Puritan Double Marriage. The Ben Jonson Journal: literary contexts in the age of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, 9, 171-191.
  • Semler, L. (2001). The Creed of Eliza’s Babes (1652): Nakedness, Adam and Divinity. Albion: a quarterly journal concerned with British studies, 33(2), 185-217.
  • Semler, L. (2000). The Protestant Birth Ethic: Aesthetic, Political, and Religious Contexts for Eliza's Babes (1652). English Literary Renaissance, 30(3), 432-456. [More Information]

Reference Works

  • Semler, L. (2001). Stephen Bateman. In A.F. Kinney & David Swain (Eds.), Tudor England: An Encyclopedia. (pp. 67-68). New York: Taylor and Francis.

2013

  • Semler, L. (2013). 'Fortify yourself in your decay': Sounding Rhyme and Rhyming Effects in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In Jonathan Post (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare's Poetry, (pp. 449-466). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2013). Emergence in Ardenspace: Shakespeare pedagogy, As You Like It, and modus Iferandi. In Kate Flaherty, Penny Gay, L E Semler (Eds.), Teaching Shakespeare Beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives, (pp. 97-107). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semler, L. (2013). Stories of Selves and Infidels: Walter Charleton's Letter to Margaret Cavendish (1655). In Jan Shaw, Philippa Kelly, L E Semler (Eds.), Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches, (pp. 191-210). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Shaw, J., Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2013). Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semler, L. (2013). Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe: Learning vs. the System. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Flaherty, K., Gay, P., Semler, L. (2013). Teaching Shakespeare Beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

2012

  • Semler, L. (2012). "Loe an antick Persian": Orienting Anticality in Thomas Herbert's Travels (1634, 1638, 1664). In Matthias Bauer, Rudiger Pfeiffer-Rupp, Claudia Sasse and Ursula Wienen (Eds.), Sprache, Literatur, Kultur: Translatio delectat: Festschrift fur Lothar Cerny zum 65. Geburtstag, (pp. 141-156). Berlin: LIT Verlag.
  • Semler, L. (2012). Margaret Cavendish's Early Engagement with Descartes and Hobbes: Philosophical Revisitation and Poetic Selection. Intellectual History Review, 22(3), 327-353. [More Information]
  • Semler, L., Hodge, B., Kelly, P. (2012). What is the Human? Australian Voices from the Humanities. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

2011

  • Semler, L. (2011). The magnetic attraction of Margaret Cavendish and Walter Charleton. In Jo Wallwork and Paul Salzman (Eds.), Early Modern Englishwomen Testing Ideas, (pp. 55-72). England: Ashgate.

2010

  • Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2010). Introduction: Word and self estranged: topographies of meaning in Early Modern England. In Philippa Kelly and Liam Semler (Eds.), Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660, (pp. 1-11). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2010). The Ruins of Persepolis: Grotesque Perception in Thomas Herbert's Travels. In Philippa Kelly and Liam Semler (Eds.), Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660, (pp. 33-59). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Kelly, P., Semler, L. (2010). Word and Self Estranged in English Texts, 1550-1660. Surrey, UK: Ashgate.

2009

  • Semler, L. (2009). The Shakespeare reloaded Bard Blitz: a literary analysis and essay building module. Metaphor, (4), 30-44.
  • Semler, L. (2009). Virtue Transformation and Exemplarity in the Lyfe of Johan Picus. In Cousins, A~Grace, Damian~ (Eds.), A Companion to Thomas More, (pp. 95-113). USA: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

2006

  • Semler, L. (2006). A Proximate Prince: The Gooey Business of 'Hamlet' Criticism. Sydney Studies in English, 32, 97-122.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Designs on the Self: Inigo Jones, Marginal Writing and Renaissance Self-Assembly. In Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, Philippa Kelly (Eds.), Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, (pp. 252-267). Ann Arbor MI USA: University of Michigan Press.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Review: Psalm Culture and Early Modern English Literature. Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, 12(1), 1-9.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Robert Dallington’s Hypnerotomachia and the Protestant Antiquity of Elizabethan England. Studies in Philology, 103(2), 208-241.
  • Semler, L. (2006). Select Bibliography. In Achsah Guibbory (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne, (pp. 259-277). UK: Cambridge University Press.

2005

  • Semler, L. (2005). Mapping the Grotesque: Inventing and possessing the world in Early-Modern England. In Geraldine Barnes (with Gabrielle Singleton) (Eds.), Travel and Travellers from Bede to Dampier, (pp. 177-206). Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK): Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • Semler, L. (2005). Marlovian Therapy: The Chastisement of Ovid in Hero and Leander. English Literary Renaissance, 35(2), 159-186.
  • Semler, L. (2005). Review: Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England. Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, 11(1).

2004

  • Semler, L. (2004). Antique-Work And Naked Boys: Animating The Tudor-Stuart Grotesque. Parergon, 21(1), 85-111.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Breaking The Ice To Invention: Henry Peacham's The Art Of Drawing (1606). Sixteenth Century Journal: journal of early modern studies, 35(3), 735-750.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Creative Adoption In Eliza's Babes (1652): Puritan Refigurations Of Sibbes, Herrick, And Herbert. In D. Doerksen and C. Hodgkins (Eds.), Centered on the Word: Literature, Scripture, and the Tudor-Stuart Middle Way, (pp. 319-345). Newark USA: University of Delaware Press.
  • Semler, L. (2004). Eliza's Babes. In Helen Ostovich and Elizabeth Sauer (Eds.), Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print 1550-1700, (pp. 384-385). London and New York: Routledge imprint of Taylor & Francis.

2003

  • Semler, L. (2003). Eliza's Babes; Or The Virgin's Offering, Early Modern Englishwoman Facsimiles of Essential Works, Printed Writings 1641-1700. London: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Inigo Jones, Capricious Ornament And Plutarch's Wise Man. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 66, 123-142.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Introductory Note. In Betty S.Travitsky; Anne L.Prescott; Robert C. Evans (Eds.), The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works: Series II: Printed Writings, 1641-1700: Part 2, (pp. ix-xvii). UK: Ashgate.
  • Semler, L. (2003). Postmodern Renaissance. Metascience, 12(3), 385-388.

2002

  • Semler, L. (2002). Mannerist Donne: Showing Art in the Descriptive Verse Epistles and Elegies. In A.D. Cousins and Damian Grace (Eds.), Donne and the Resources of Kind, (pp. 40-58). United States: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2002). Review: The Touch of the Real. Australian Humanities Review, 2002 (26).
  • Semler, L. (2002). What God Hath Joined, Let No Man Separate Eliza's Babes and the Puritan Double Marriage. The Ben Jonson Journal: literary contexts in the age of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, 9, 171-191.

2001

  • Semler, L. (2001). Eliza's Babes or the Virgin's Offering: A Critical Edition. United States: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Semler, L. (2001). Stephen Bateman. In A.F. Kinney & David Swain (Eds.), Tudor England: An Encyclopedia. (pp. 67-68). New York: Taylor and Francis.
  • Semler, L. (2001). The Creed of Eliza’s Babes (1652): Nakedness, Adam and Divinity. Albion: a quarterly journal concerned with British studies, 33(2), 185-217.

2000

  • Semler, L. (2000). The Protestant Birth Ethic: Aesthetic, Political, and Religious Contexts for Eliza's Babes (1652). English Literary Renaissance, 30(3), 432-456. [More Information]

1998

  • Semler, L. (1998). The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses.

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