David Landreth

Professor of English
Dept of English
Research Expertise and Interest
English Renaissance literature 1500-1660
Research Description

I'm working on a book on the circulation of gold and silver coins through the texts and the purses of Renaissance England (from about 1540 to about 1610). Focusing on these small and ubiquitous objects gives me an oblique perspective onto some large and rarified questions, such as the ontology of substances, the materiality of memory and of anachrony, and the mutual inscription of possessions, the people who possess them, and the productive powers of the state. The project began in my interest in the inter-disciplinary rivalry of words and images, as the coin is perhaps the most compressed and most everyday expression of that relation, through the portrait and motto that each one bears. Since then, I've discovered that the work I'm doing brings me in contact with a number of current critical developments, from the self-proclaimed "New Economic Criticism" to the "Thing Theory." My teaching at Berkeley has been split pretty evenly between Shakespeare, on the one hand, and the variety of his contemporaries, on the other--Spenser, Donne, Marlowe, the Jacobean drama--each of whom likewise has a place in the book.

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