The invention of suspicion: Forensic Realism in Renaissance Drama

Project: Standard

Project Details


The project explored the connections between English legal culture and the drama of Renaissance England, and found important affinities. These were partly due to the dissemination of classical texts on forensic rhetoric, and partly due to England's participatory justice system. It resulted in a monograph, 'The invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama' (Oxford. 2007).

Layman's description

English Renaissance drama shares with popular English legal culture a new interest in narrative enquiry which, in the drama is productive of a new psychological realism.

Key findings

1. formal connections between modes of dramatic composition and modes of legal enquiry.
2. new insights into the relations between law and literature in sixteenth century England.
3. new ways of understanding the legal dimensions of Shakespeare's thinking about politics.
4. new readings of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.
5. A new understanding of the forensic aspects of Renaissance mimesis.
6. A significant challenge to the application of Foucault's model of law and punishment to the understanding of sixteenth century English legal and literary culture.
AcronymInvention of Suspicion AH/D500923/1
Effective start/end date25/09/0619/01/07


  • Arts and Humanities Research Board: £33,789.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.