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Laurie Shannon Named Wender-Lewis Professor at Northwestern

October 31, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Laurie Shannon, associate professor of English, has been named the Wender-Lewis Research and Teaching Professor at Northwestern University.

Shannon specializes in English literature from the late 1400s to 1649. She is the author of Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts (University of Chicago Press, 2002), which concerns Renaissance adaptations of classical texts on friendship. Early modern authors recycled classical principles for their own purposes; Sovereign Amity identifies a productive tension between the intimate friendship pair and the more systematic institutions of the emerging early modern nation-state.

Shannon's current book project, "The Integral Animal: Zootopian Constitutions of Early Modernity," delves into the relationship between the histories of science, medicine, law, literature, and philosophy (as core "human" modes of knowledge and political imagination) and Renaissance representations of animals. Suggesting that current notions of a "human/animal divide" arose during the 17th century, the book maps both earlier and modern alternative frameworks for cross-species relationship. Earlier texts disclose what Shannon calls a "zootopia": a literature highly attentive to the presence of animals and invested in their diversity.

Shannon is also working on "Of English Dogges: Early Modern Canines in Print," an edition of John Caius' 1576 text, which was the first English encyclopedia of dog breeds, as well as a broader manuscript on animal actors, entitled What the Tiger Meant, and Other Tales of Animal Intention.

Her essays have appeared in the journals English Literary Renaissance, English Literary History, South Atlantic Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Studies, Modern Philology, GLQ and American Literature, as well as in edited collections.

Shannon has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and, most recently, the Guggenheim Foundation.

She previously taught at Duke University, where she directed the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and was awarded the Robert B. Cox Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2003) and the Dean's Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring (2007). She joined the English department at Northwestern in July.
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