Dr Bonnie Lander Johnson, Newnham



Biographical Information

In 2012 I took my Oxford DPhil, supervised by Sharon Achinstein and Laurie Maguire. Since then I have held Lectureships in Cambridge, at Selwyn College and the English Faculty. In 2018 I moved to Newnham College, where I am Fellow and Director of Studies in Part I. In the Faculty, I am a Teaching Associate. In Part I of the English Tripos I teach Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature and in Part II, I teach Tragedy, Material Renaissance and Early Modern Drama. For the MPhil, I offer a course on the botanical renaissance. I supervise dissertations across these subjects.

Research Interests

My first monograph, Chastity in Early Stuart Literature and Culture, traced the medical, theological, literary, and revolutionary uses of chastity from The Winter's Tale to the death of Charles I. It argued, among other things, that court 'performances', including royal birthing ceremonies, need to be considered part of the same debate as political and theological pamphlets. My second book was Blood Matters, a collection of interdisciplinary essays as part of the Wellcome-Trust funded The Blood Project.

I am now writing about the Elizabethan botanical renaissance: a movement that involved a wide range of popular practices from domestic decorative arts to pedagogy, gardens and food, printed herbals, and the Shakespearean theatre itself, but which also shaped Elizabethan proto-colonialism and expansionist privateering through growing markets in cochineal, tobacco and sugar. As part of this research interest I am editing The Cambridge Handbook of Literature and Plants, a large volume charting literature's interest in plants (from Virgil to contemporary nature writing and spanning all global regions) and finishing a monograph on Shakespeare's botany.

My research covers Shakespeare; Ford; Webster; Milton; gender; genre; early modern medical, theological, and political history; gardens and plants; domestic arts; birth and midwifery; court masques; Tudor and Stuart Petrarchism; material cultures; environmental humanities; medical humanities; and English performance of all kinds. 


Areas of Graduate Supervision

 Any of the above


Selected Publications


Chastity in Early Stuart Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015; paperback, 2017). Featured here: The Language and Literature of Chastity 

Shakespeare's Botany (in development for Cambridge University Press).


Edited Collections:

(Forthcoming), Cambridge Handbook of Literature and Plants (Cambridge University Press)

(With Eleanor Decamp, eds.), Blood Matters: Studies in European Literature and Thought, 1400-1700 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Featured here: Blood and Bodies.


Book Chapters:

(Forthcoming) 'Introduction', The Cambridge Handbook of Literature and Plants (Cambridge University Press).

(Forthcoming) 'Shakespeare, Then and Now', The Cambridge Handbook of Literature and Plants (Cambridge University Press).

(Forthcoming) 'Shakespeare and Eden', Christian Shakespeare (Georgetown University Press).

‘“The blood of English shall manure the ground”: the almanac in Richard II’s vision of soil and body management’, in Hilary Eklund (ed.), Ground-Work: Soil Science in Renaissance Literature (Duquesne University Press, 2017), 59-78.

‘Blood, Milk, Poison: Romeo and Juliet’s tragedy of “green” desire and corrupted blood’, Blood Matters: Studies in European Literature and Thought, 1400-1700 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), 134-150.

(With Eleanor Decamp), ’Introduction’, Blood Matters: Studies in European Literature and Thought, 1400-1700 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), 1-14.


Journal Articles:

(with Myles O'Gorman), 'Shakespeare's Statuary Women and the Indoor Theatre's Discovery Space', Early Theatre 24 (2021), 89–112.

(With Beth Dubow) ‘Allegories of Creation: Glassmaking, Forests and Fertility in Webster's The Duchess of Malfi’, Renaissance Drama 45 (2017), 107-137.

(With Eleanor Decamp and Laurie Maguire, ’The Bloody Truth', Bulletin of the Society of Renaissance Studies 31 (2014), 11-13.

‘Interpreting the Person: tradition, conflict, and Cymbeline’s Imogen’, Shakespeare Quarterly 59:2 (2008), 156–184.

‘The Convention of Innocence and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’s Literary Sophisticates’, Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 24:1 (2007), 41–66.

‘Critical Relationships: Sense & Sensibility on page and screen’, Sensibilities: The Journal of the Australian Jane Austen Society 32 (2006).



SARAH ROSS AND ROSALIND SMITH, Early Modern Women's Complaint, Review of English Studies 72 (2021).

JAMES E. KELLY AND HANNAH THOMAS, Jesuit Intellectual and Physical Exchange Between England and Mainland Europe, Renaissance Quarterly, 72 (2020).

LESLIE THOMPSON, Discoveries on the Early Modern Stage, Renaissance Quarterly 72 (2019).

JAN FRANS VAN DIJKHUIZEN, Pain and Compassion in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, Review of English Studies 65 (2014).