Benjamin D. VanWagoner

B.A. Economics and English, Michigan (2009), M.A. English, Columbia (2012) M.Phil. English, Columbia (2014) Benjamin D. VanWagoner is a doctoral candidate with research that focuses on early modern English drama, maritime culture, and economics. His dissertation, sponsored by Jean E. Howard and titled 'Doubtful Gains': Articulating Maritime Risk in English Drama, 1601–1642, examines commercial theatre's growing awareness of risk as a discrete economic concept alongside the English expansion into global trade in the early part of the 17th century. The project attends to little-studied popular drama of the sea by Thomas Heywood, Phillip Massinger, and Robert Daborne, in addition to the works of William Shakespeare, to re-imagine the dramatic and cultural effect of shipwrecks, piracy, insurance, and maritime political theory. Other research has ranged widely: his Master's thesis on social organization and polyphony in T.S. Eliot's poem Coriolan and in Coriolanus won Columbia's Rachel-Wetzsteon Prize. He is also the recipient of a 2015/6 Fellowship in Academic Administration at Columbia's Office of Academic Diversity, and is serving as an MLA Connected Academics Fellow for 2015/6. Read more about his work at

Academic Interests:

early modern drama, maritime culture, economics, theatre history, performance studies, critical theory, history of science, digital humanities, early modern chorography and spatial theory