Bernadette Myers

Bernadette Myers


Urban Ecology and the Early Modern English Stage

Research Interests


Bernadette Myers is a PhD candidate in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her research brings together early modern drama, the environmental humanities, and material culture studies. Her dissertation, “Urban Ecology and the Early Modern English Stage,” argues that Shakespeare and his contemporaries developed concepts, practices and habits of mind that informed early attitudes and expectations about urban sustainability. London faced an unprecedented environmental crisis at the end of the sixteenth century; rapid population growth led to food scarcity, decayed waterways, air pollution, and a shortage of space to bury the dead. “Urban Ecology” explores how playwrights responded to these problems using the unique material and imaginative resources of dramatic form. It also shows how early modern plays conceived of London’s environment as a co-fabrication between human and nonhuman forces, long before the phrase “urban ecology” emerged in scientific discourse. An article on theatrical responses to London’s 1590s food crisis taken from this dissertation is forthcoming in Shakespeare Quarterly

Bernadette has taught a wide range of courses, including “University Writing: Readings in Sustainable Development,” “Literary Texts, Critical Methods” (Columbia’s introduction to the English major) and an upper-level seminar of her own design called “Environmental Crisis on the Shakespearean Stage.” In fall 2018, she served as the teaching assistant for the Columbia in London program, in partnership with Queen Mary University, where she coordinated excursions for the course “London in Postcolonial Fiction.” She currently teaches “Literature Humanities” in Columbia’s Core Curriculum and will teach a course on Renaissance drama at Barnard College in Spring 2021.