David Scott Kastan
George M. Bodman Professor of English
David Kastan, B.A. Princeton University, Ph.D. University of Chicago, faculty member at Yale since 2008: Some people might consider you principally a Shakespearean, one of the more distinguished of your generation, which you most certainly are. Your books – Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time, Shakespeare after Theory, Shakespeare and the Book, and A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion – all considered significant works, roundly confirm this.
But you are also a broad scholar of the Elizabethan era with a primary focus on the production, transmission, and reception of texts. In this category you are not only the co-editor of the Bantam Shakespeare, the series editor for the Barnes and Noble Shakespeare, and one of the general editors of the Arden Shakespeare. You also have edited important and widely used modern critical editions of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, and also (with John Cox) A New History of Early English Drama and (with Peter Stallybrass) Staging the Renaissance. All this is a sampling of your most important work as an editor, not a full recording.
Even this list, however, does not convey the range of the influence you carry with you. When you arrived at Yale in 2008, you had long been a denizen of New York and had been for many years an eminent professor at Columbia, where you had won Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award and its inaugural Faculty Mentoring Award. Your move to New Haven was a signal triumph for Yale. New to the block, you threw yourself into Yale life with a range of activity and an ardor that made you seem a much longer-term Yalie.
You immersed yourself in undergraduate and graduate teaching, becoming a caring graduate mentor as well as the founder and co-convenor of The Pomerium, a graduate student work-in-progress seminar. You became struck by the stunning Yale holdings of Shakespeare-iana and set out to make them better known. At the Elizabethan Club you gave the opening lecture to commemorate the Lizzie’s 100th anniversary. And, importantly, you helped galvanize the impressive events for “Shakespeare at Yale,” a year-long series that displayed the extraordinary resources that exist at the university for the study and enjoyment of Shakespeare and that resulted in a catalog done with Kathryn James, Remembering Shakespeare, called “everything a good exhibition catalog should be.”
And you became a true denizen of New Haven. You could be seen with your wife perambulating the campus, eating with friends in the restaurants, and in general enjoying the virtues of a city smaller than the bigger one you love. A man of many parts, you recently began devoting your work to the visual arts, writing essays for museum catalogs, and publishing the book On Color, written with the painter Stephen Farthing. Your Yale colleagues, grateful that you agreed to come to Yale as your second university, look forward to further new scholarly iterations, and hope you will continue to consider New Haven your second home.