Jeri Smith-Cronin

Jeri Smith-Cronin


My work focuses upon early modern English literature, and in particular on late Elizabethan and Early Jacobean Drama. I am especially interested in the influence and evolution of the romance mode on early modern theatre and in literary, political, and cultural history during these periods.

My PhD thesis, ‘Chivalry and English Drama, 1570-1624’ seeks to shed light on the emergence and popularity of dramatic romance in the professional theatre of early modern England. In particular, I focus upon the influence of chivalric romance on early modern drama and explore how chivalric forms and motifs were deployed by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in order to give expression to a wide range of often overlapping discourses. The chivalric tradition continued to exert a persistent and pervasive influence on the culture and imagination of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Rather than anachronistic, early modern chivalry was a fluid and functional concept which was constantly refashioned in response to the period’s contingent social, economic, and political pressures. By providing a chronological and thematic analysis of these chivalric redefinitions from 1570 to 1624, my thesis will help to elucidate a historical understanding of chivalry as it evolved over these periods. My research examines plays by Shakespeare, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, John Day, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, and Francis Beaumont, and places them in conversation with wider aspects of contemporary chivalric culture such as chivalric treatises, manuals, and armour collections. These plays give us a clear sense of a surviving and persistent chivalric culture in early modern England, capable of articulating and illuminating crucial contemporary issues including the nature of true honour, aristocratic identity, social mobility, and post-Reformation religious struggle.

Conference and Event Organisation

In May 2014, I co-organized a two-day event on Sleep Studies at the University of Bristol. The first day consisted of a Postgraduate Conference entitled ‘"Perchance to Dream": Sleep and Related Phenomena in English Literature’ with Professor Garret Sullivan (Penn State University) delivering the plenary lecture. Professor Sullivan hosted an interdisciplinary seminar the following day. This was in the format of a roundtable discussion led by UK-wide academics from a range of disciplines in both the humanities and the sciences.
The event was funded by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), the Bristol Institute for Research in the Arts and Humanities (BIRTHA), the Alumni Foundation, and the Bristol-Kyoto Strategic Fund.
Details of the event can be found here:

Conference Papers

  • ‘”The ravell’d sleave of care”: Insomnia in Macbeth’, University of Bristol (Sleep Cultures Postgraduate Conference), May 2014.
  • ‘”My great patron thought on in my prayers”’: King Lear and the Chivalric Ideal, University College Cork (Borderlines Conference), April 2017.
  • ‘”Arms defensive a safe peace maintain”: Chivalric Revival in Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones’s Speeches at Prince Henry’s Barriers, The National Distance Education University (UNED) of Madrid (Kings & Queens Conference), September 2017.
  • “’Because I am not painted”: Chivalry, Religion, and Anglo-Spanish Diplomacy in Thomas Dekker’s The Whore of Babylon’, Nova University of Lisbon (Splendid Encounters Conference), September 2017.
  • 'Remembering Elizabethan Chivalry in Thomas Dekker's The Whore of Babylon', University of Leeds (International Medieval Conference), July 2018.
  • 'Killer Kings and Procrastinating Princes: The Ghost of Chivalry in Hamlet', Queen's University Belfast (Bristish Shakespeare Association Annual Conference), July 2018. 


  • Drama: Reading and Interpretation


  • John Barnard School of English Scholarship, 2016-19


  • Chivalry, Religion, and Anglo-Spanish Diplomacy: Censoring Thomas Dekker's The Whore of Babylon', Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Vol. 50, No. 3 (Forthcoming, 2020). 


  • BA English (University of Bristol)
  • MA English (University of Bristol)