Alfred Thomas

601 South Morgan Street (MC 162)
University Hall, Suite 2009
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312.413.2246
Fax: 312.413.1005
Curriculum Vitae

Medieval and Early-Modern English and European Literature

Alfred Thomas’s scholarship and teaching aim to place late-medieval and early-modern English and European literature in a comparative context. His book Anne's Bohemia: Czech Literature and Society, 1310-1420 (Minnesota University Press, 1998) introduced the riches of medieval Czech literature and culture to an Anglophone audience. The sequel to this book, A Blessed Shore: England and Bohemia from Chaucer to Shakespeare (Cornell University Press, 2007), explores cross-cultural interactions between England and Central Europe not so much in terms of diplomatic and political relations as through the images—the shifting blends of fact and fiction—that each of the two cultures nourished about the other.

Thomas’s work also engages with the relationship between class, ethnicity, and gender in both pre-modern and modern Central European culture. The Bohemian Body: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007) is the first book-length theoretical treatment of gender and sexuality in a culture and criticism traditionally dominated by essentialist notions of racial and ethnic difference.

Thomas’s teaching reflects his comparative and interdisciplinary approach to scholarship. In his undergraduate course “Shakespeare in Film” (taught as English 107) Thomas compares American, British, Japanese, and Russian cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories, teasing out not only the filmmakers understanding of Shakespeare’s life and times but the English playwright’s relevance to their own  cultural, political, and religious experience from the post-modern eclecticism of Julie Taymor’s Titus (1999) to the representation of Hamlet as a political dissident in Grigori Kozintsev’s Russian film version of the play (1964).

Thomas's latest book project is "Unbending Will: Dissident Voices in Shakespeare's England and Cold War Europe." It argues that Shakespeare and his contemporaries deployed similarly oblique techniques of resistance and subversion to those used by writers in the Soviet eastern bloc during and after the Stalinist period. Foremost among these techniques was the "Aesopian" strategy of commenting on the repressive nature of early modern England by camouflaging it as a foreign country (Macbeth's Scotland, Hamlet's Denmark), as an imaginary locale (Bohemia in "The Winter's Tale"), or as the remote past (Lear's Britain, Imperial Rome). As in the Soviet Union, (religious) dissidence in early modern England was equated with madness and folly, which would help to explain the central importance of the Fool/Clown figure as the spokesman of religious and political defiance in Shakespeare's drama.


Prague Palimpsest
By Alfred Thomas
University of Chicago Press
Published: October, 2010
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A Blessed Shore: England and Bohemia from Chaucer to Shakespeare
By Alfred Thomas
Cornell University Press
Published: July, 2007
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The Bohemian Body: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture
By Alfred Thomas
University of Wisconsin Press
Published: April 11, 2007
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Cultures of Forgery: Making Nations, Making Selves
By Judith Ryan and Alfred Thomas
Published: August 19, 2003
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Anne's Bohemia: Czech Literature and Society, 1310-1420
By Alfred Thomas
University of Minnesota Press
Published: April, 1998
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