Department of English

University of Toronto

Syme, Holger Schott

Holger Schott Syme
Associate Professor of English; Graduate Faculty; Undergraduate Instructor, University of Toronto Mississauga
UTM Office Phone: 905-569-3737Holger
UTM Office Location: Deerfield Hall 1045
UTSG Office Location: Room 905
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: July 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021
Faculty Bookshelf
Holger Schott Syme's Homepage 

Teaching and Research Interests: Early modern English literature, esp. drama; theatre history; contemporary performance, esp. of classics; German theatre; history of the book; legal history; performance studies; literary and cultural theory and history; censorship; Shakespeare; Jonson; Kyd; Marlowe; Middleton; Webster. Büchner; Chekhov; Goethe; Horváth; Gorky; Ibsen; Kleist; Schiller.

B.A. (Balliol, Oxford), A.M., Ph.D. (Harvard)


Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare’s England: A Culture of Mediation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012; paperback 2014).

Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing, ed. Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009).

Textual editor, Edward III, by William Shakespeare and Others, The Norton Shakespeare: Third Edition, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015) (in press).

Textual editor, The Book of Sir Thomas More, by Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, William Shakespeare and Others, The Norton Shakespeare: Third Edition, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015) (in press).

“Pastiche or Archetype? The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and the Project of Theatrical Reconstruction,” Shakespeare Survey 71 (forthcoming 2018): 135-46; 7,694 words.

“A Theatre without Actors,” Theatre Survey 59 (2018): 265-75.

“Three’s Company: Alternative Histories of London’s Theatres in the 1590s,” Shakespeare Survey 65 (2012): 269-89.

“(Mis)representing Justice on the Early Modern Stage,” Studies in Philology 109 (2012): 63-85.

“The Meaning of Success: Stories of 1594 and Its Aftermath,” Shakespeare Quarterly 61 (2010): 490-524.

“Unediting the Margin: Jonson, Marston, and the Theatrical Page,” English Literary Renaissance 38.1 (2008): 142-71.

“The Look of Speech,” Textual Cultures 2.2 (2007): 34-60.

“Becoming Speech: Voicing the Text in Early Modern English Courtrooms and Theatres,” Compar(a)ison: An International Journal of Comparative Literature, I/2003 (published 2007): 107-24.

Chapters in Books
“A Sharers’ Repertory,” Rethinking Theatrical Documents in Shakespeare’s England, ed. Tiffany Stern (London: Arden Shakespeare/Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2019); 6,150 words.

“The Theatre of Shakespeare’s Time,” The Norton Shakespeare: Third Edition, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015), 93-118 (in press).

“Marlowe in his Moment,” Marlowe in Context, ed. Emily C. Bartels and Emma Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 275-84.

“Thomas Creede, William Barley, and the Venture of Printing Plays,” Shakespeare’s Stationers: Studies in Cultural Bibliography, ed. Marta Straznicky (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 28-46.

“‘But, what euer you do, Buy’: Richard II as Popular Commodity,” Richard II: New Critical Essays, ed. Jeremy Lopez (London: Routledge, 2012), 223-44.

“Locating the Queen’s Men: An Introduction” (co-authored with Helen Ostovich and Andrew Griffin), Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing, ed. Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009; ISBN 0754666611), 1-23.

“Conjuration e Coniuratio: Testi e Congiure nel Julius Caesar di Shakespeare,” Cospirazioni, Trame: Quaderni di Synapsis II, ed. Simona Micali (Florence: Le Monnier, 2003), 173-86.

Other Contributions to Books
20 entries in The Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia, ed. Patricia Parker (Stanford: Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2018) (c. 3,500 words).

“General Bibliography,” The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al., second edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 3381-3407.

Other Publications
Review of Eoin Price, “Public” and “Private” Playhouses in Renaissance England (London, 2015), Early Theatre 20 (2017): 173-76.

“Creative Appropriation,” Intermission Magazine (online), 13 April 2017; 3,010 words.

“King Lear at the Stationers, Again,” Los Angeles Review of Books, 18 December 2016; 11,879 words.

“The Text is Foolish: Brian Vickers’s The One King Lear,” Los Angeles Review of Books, 6 September 2016; 9,838 words.

“The Ivory Twitter,” The Walrus (online), 16 June 2016; 2,531 words.

“Euer Theater ist viel besser, als Ihr denkt,”, 2 October 2015; 1,334 words.

“Theaterbrief aus Toronto,” Junge Bühne 8 (2014), n.p.

Soulpepper: Requiem for a Dream,” The Charlebois Post – Canada, 11 November 2012.

Imaginary Targets,” Los Angeles Review of Books, 5 November 2012.

“How Shakespeare Could Write Shakespeare,” op-ed in the Montreal Gazette, 1 November 2011, p. A21.

Why is Shakespeare still so Popular?” Interview for the University of Toronto “Behind the Headlines” series

Producer, Performing the Queen’s Men    
(Educational multimedia tool developed with the support of a U of T Instructional Technology Courseware Development Grant, funds from the “Shakespeare and the Queen’s Men” SSHRC Research Creation Grant, and a McMaster Teaching and Learning Project Grant). Launched January 2009.

Frequent blog-posts at  

Text Interviews
“Volksbühne, la fine di un grande teatro di provincia? Intervista a Holger Syme,”, in Italian and English, 14 Sept 2017.

“Much Ado about William,” U of T Magazine, Summer 2016.

“In Conversation with Holger Syme – Adaptor & Director of The Howland Company’s upcoming workshop production of Casimir and Caroline.”, 18 Nov. 2015.

“Why is Shakespeare still so Popular?” University of Toronto Behind the Headlines Series, June 2009.

Broadcast Interviews

“Shakespeare: 400 Years.” The Agenda with Steven Paikin, TVO. 26 August 2016.

“Is Shakespeare Unrelatable?Central Time, Wisconsin Public Radio (NPR). 14 Aug 2014.

“Roland Emmerich’s film Anonymous,” Arts.21, Deutsche Welle (TV), 17 Sept 2011.

Work in Progress


Doing the Classics
A major, multi-disciplinary, international, and comparative study of the place of theatrical “classics” in contemporary performance practices and repertories in Germany, the UK, the US and Canada; the project will involve a major research-creation element. (In progress, with multiple research trips to the UK, Germany, and Austria, and many blog posts developing the parameters of the project.) A more detailed preliminary prescription is available here.

Shakespeare in Berlin, 1918-2018
This monograph will focus on paradigmatic Shakespeare productions in Berlin, from Jessner’s Richard III to Jette Steckel’s Othello and Stefan Pucher’s Twelfth Night, with the goal of studying how successive generations of German avant-garde theatre makers turned to stagings of Shakespeare as an occasion to reinvent their medium. This will be the first book-length publication resulting from the “Doing the Classics” project. (Under contract for the Arden/Bloomsbury “Shakespeare in the Theatre” series, due Dec. 2019. c. 85,000 words.) A detailed project description is available here.

The Theatre of Shakespeare’s Time: A Revisionist History
A major new account of the business of playing in early modern England, including chapters on the competition between playing companies in London; the relationship between public and court performance; the importance of ensembles and the (critically exaggerated) roles for stars; the limited importance of indoor playhouses until the 1620s; and the significance of critically neglected playwrights such as Chapman, Dekker, and Munday. (Partially drafted; planned completion in 2020. c. 90,000 words.)

“The Jacobean King’s Men: A Reconsideration” (11,966 words; under submission)

“The Hieronimo Complex: Shakespeare, the Chamberlain’s Men, and The Spanish Tragedy” (in draft; 14,740 words)

“Contested Southwark: The Globe and the Rose in 1599” (in progress, c. 6,000 words)

“The Peregrinations of Hand C” (in progress, c. 5,000 words)

“Brecht’s Edward II and the Death of the Classic” (in progress, c. 6,500 words)

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