Catherine Clifford, PhD

Assistant Professor of English

  • 641-784-5153

I love literature, and teaching students to ask questions about texts is an exciting practice. In the classroom, I encourage students to read literature as both pieces of art and culturally-produced artifacts. Stories, in particular, offer windows into the ways humans in diverse cultures and civilizations have asked and sought answers for questions. Our humanity requires investment in these questions, and nothing is more thrilling for me than to see students of all levels, majors and interests engaging deeply in this process of questioning and meaning-making. At Graceland, I teach, along with our Discourse cycle, two British Literature surveys, Shakespeare, World Literature, Structures of Modern English, and Gender and Sexuality. Sometimes I can’t believe that I get to do this for a living.

I discovered this profession by way of an interest in Shakespeare, and although I have invested myself in areas of literature, drama and history unrelated to Shakespeare, early modern drama remains my intellectual catalyst. My primary research has been into early modern English court performance histories, and my work centers around the relationships between monarchs, palaces and drama during the years 1500 to 1700. I’m also interested in the ways that gender and sexuality intersect with these histories, and part of my current research seeks to extract new ways of reading texts and histories through a lens of asexuality studies. 

I am a co-founder (along with Tracy Salter) of Summer Shakespeare at Graceland, a 6-week residential training program for students interested in pursuing focused repertory training with Shakespeare’s plays. Launching in the summer of 2020, Summer Shakespeare at Graceland will culminate in a Shakespeare festival, with two to three plays performed entirely by students. For me, the program is the perfect union of my passions: early modern drama and experiential learning!

When I’m not reading and thinking about “old books,” I’m probably running, and I feel most myself when I go trail running for the better part of the day with my dog Red. Generally speaking, I like to run ultramarathons, and my favorite races usually cover between 30 and 60 miles each. I am also a TV junkie, a builder of LEGOs and a women’s soccer fan. 

Office Location

Briggs Hall