Professor Margaret Jane Kidnie's research centres on early modern English drama by playwrights such as Shakespeare, Middleton, and Jonson who wrote for the professional stage. She edits both the prose and drama of the period: her edition of Stubbes’s Anatomie of Abuses (2002) was awarded “Honorable Mention” from the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions, and she is currently editing Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness for the Arden Early Modern Drama series; she has also edited Jonson and manuscript drama. Editing encourages one to reflect on the process itself, and she has published a number of articles on methodology: an essay collection on which she collaborated with Lukas Erne called Textual Performance: The Modern Reproduction of Shakespeare’s Drama (2004) was short-listed for Book of the Year by the TLS. She has published, with Sonia Massai, another major collection of essays that seeks to provide a snapshot of where we are in Shakespeare textual studies and book history, but in so doing, also to lay the groundwork for future research directions: Shakespeare and Textual Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
It was her interest in live performance that first brought her to Shakespeare studies, and she is especially curious about how we continue to produce these plays today. Kidnie has published a series of articles that explores theatre archives, history and theatrical memory, and the politics of race, gender, and appropriation in both staged and filmic performances. The work of the Canadian director Robert Lepage has fascinated her since the early 1990s, and she has completed a major assessment of his directorial method and oeuvre for Arden’s Great Shakespeareans series (2013). Her most recent monograph, Shakespeare and the Problem of Adaptation (2009), intervenes in the recent explosion of interest in adaptation studies to argue that adaptation keeps emerging as a “problem” since the work itself adapts over time. By classifying just some productions as adaptation, as a departure from the thing itself, communities of readers and spectators generate through a negative logic the effect of a stable work. This book argues that there is no ideal iteration of any Shakespearean play, either textually or theatrically; rather than conclude that we should move beyond fidelity debates, her point is that it is precisely through such ongoing, sometimes polemical, discussions that readers and spectators continue to define what constitutes Shakespeare’s plays.
Outreach is a part of university life that she values highly. While in England, she worked as an academic consultant at the Royal National Theatre and gave public lectures at the Bankside Globe. Since returning to Canada in 2002, she has served as Visiting Scholar to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (preparing a confidential 15,000 word report on the 2003 season for the Governors of the Festival), and she currently serves on their ad-hoc University Task Force. She regularly writes programme notes and gives public lectures as part of the Festival’s education programme. She is the Graham and Gail Wright Distinguished Scholar at Western University, and she was honoured to win the Arts and Humanities Teaching Excellence Award in 2012, and the USC Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2013.