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Rebecca Bushnell is the School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers Emerita Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She received a BA from Swarthmore, an MA from Bryn Mawr, and a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. Her monographs include Prophesying Tragedy: Sign and Voice in Sophocles' Theban Plays (1988); Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in The English Renaissance (1990); A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice (1996); Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens (2003); Tragedy: A Short Introduction (2008); and Tragic Time in Drama, Film, and Videogames: The Future in the Instant (2016). She has also edited A Companion to Tragedy (2005) and a multi-volume Cultural History of Tragedy (2019). Her new book, The Marvels of the World: An Anthology of Nature Writing Before 1700, an anthology of excerpts of premodern writing about the natural world, is coming soon from the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also working on a book on theater and videogames.
Professor Bushnell has received an ACLS research fellowship and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, as well as an NEH grant for Teaching with Technology. Professor Bushnell served as Associate Dean for the Humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences from 1998-2003, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2003-2004, and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2005-2013. She was President of the Shakespeare Association of America. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Princeton Day School.
- Prophesying Tragedy: Sign and Voice in Sophocles' Theban Plays (Cornell 1988)
- Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance (Cornell 1990)
- A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice (Cornell 1996)
- King Lear and Macbeth (annotated bibliography) (Pegasus Press 1996)
- Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens (Cornell 2003)
- A Companion to Tragedy (Blackwell 2005)
- Tragedy: A Short Introduction (Blackwell 2007)
- Tragic Time in Drama, Film and Videogames: The Future in the Instant (Palgrave 2016)
- A Cultural History of Tragedy, in six volumes (General Editor) (Bloomsbury 2019)
In collaboration with James Saeger, Michael Ryan and James Kearney, Professor Bushnell developed the "virtual" version of the Furness Shakespeare Library located in the Center for Electronic Text and Image of the Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania.