Stephanie Shirilan

Associate Professor, English

Stephanie Shirilan joined the English department at Syracuse in 2009 after completing her doctoral studies at Brandeis University. She earned previous degrees at the University of British Columbia and the Liberal Arts College of Concordia University in Montreal – a trajectory that maps her intersecting interests in cultural critique and canonicity. Shirilan has written articles on scholarly melancholy, the historiography of prose style, early modern skin, and the mobility of wonder in early modern travel literature. She is the author of Robert Burton and the Transformative Powers of Melancholy (Ashgate, 2015). Her research interests lie in the literary and rhetorical histories of the body, medicine, science, and empire, with principal concern for representations of corporeal and epistemological contact. She is currently working on two projects: an investigation of the “matter” of early modern literary form and feeling and a re-reading of “new world” intercultural encounters in the literature and practices of early modern natural history, medicine, and botany. 

Shirilan teaches courses that emphasize the developing discourses of embodied selfhood, knowledge, and community in seventeenth century prose and theater. Recent course offerings include: ETS 305 Performance Studies; ETS 420 Shakespeare’s Other Worlds; ETS 440 Violence on the Early Stuart Stage; ETS 410/340 Early Modern Travel and Fantasy Literature; ETS 430 Early Modern Madness, Meaning, and Melancholy. She will be offering new courses on Early Modern Ovid and on Knowledge and Experience in Early Modern Prose in 2016.

Areas of Supervision

Professor Shirilan will supervise students of late Renaissance and 17th century English literature, especially those with interests in the conceptual histories of the body, disease, imagination, subjectivity, melancholy, environment, science, medicine, natural history, natural philosophy, and the literature of discovery and contact. She welcomes students working on topics that pertain to spatial, cognitive, and performance theory to discuss their interests with her as well.


Robert Burton and the Transformative Powers of Melancholy (Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity. Ashgate, 2015). VIEW

“Exhilarating the Spirits: Burtonian Study as a Cure for Scholarly Melancholy.” Studies in Philology 111.3 (2014): 486-520. VIEW

The Forbidden Pleasures of Seventeenth-Century Prose in Twentieth-Century Criticism.” Prose Studies 34, no. 2 (2012): 115–128. VIEW

Robert Burton, Francis Bacon and the ‘Thick Skin of the World’: Skin membranes as Communications Technologies in Early Seventeenth-Century English Prose,” English Studies in Canada 34:1 (2008): 59-83. VIEW