Lina Perkins Wilder

Associate Professor of English
Chair of the English Department

Joined Connecticut College: 2006

B.A., University of Rochester
B.M., Eastman School of Music
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University



Renaissance literature

Performance studies

Lina Perkins Wilder teaches English 150: Essentials of Literary Study; English 164/264: Happy Endings: Shakespeare’s Comedies; English 165/265: Speaking What We Feel: Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Histories; English 299: Archive Fever; English 303A: Pain and Violence in Renaissance Drama; English 303B: Jews and Moors in Renaissance Drama; English 312: Milton; English 324: Donne, Herbert, Marvell; English 350: Sickness and Health in Renaissance Literature; and English 493/494Y: Shakespeare’s Brain, Shakespeare’s Body.

Wilder’s research has to do with theatrical space, stage props, and language and the ways in which these shape and are shaped by thought and memory. She is also interested in literary character and book history. Her current book project addresses Shakespeare’s concept of performance, a term that was only just beginning to be applied to acting in the early seventeenth century. Her book, Shakespeare’s Memory Theatre: Recollection, Properties, and Character (Cambridge University Press, 2010), argues that, for Shakespeare, the materials of theater are the materials of memory. Shakespeare’s theater is a “remembrance environment”: a place whose physical and social properties encourage mnemonic instruction and recollection. But the function of this remembrance environment is not just to stimulate players’ accurate recall of their parts or to provide the impetus and justification for visually emblematic stagings. The physical properties of the theater—the space itself, the players, and the many stage properties used and re-used from play to play—become the materials for a mnemonic dramaturgy that shapes language, character, and plot. As the plays enable remembering, Wilder argues, so remembering shapes the plays.

Other recent publications include “‘My Exion is Entered’: Anatomy, Costume, and Theatrical Knowledge in 2 Henry IV,” forthcoming in Renaissance Drama; “Playing Sodomites: Gender and Protean Character in As You Like It,” in Shakespeare’s Sense of Character: On the Page and from the Stage, edited by Yu Jin Ko and Michael Shurgot; “Changeling Bottom: Speech Prefixes, Acting, and Character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (in the Routledge journal Shakespeare) and “Toward a Shakespearean ‘Memory Theater’: Romeo, the Apothecary, and the Performance of Memory” (in Shakespeare Quarterly). She has also published an essay on The Rez Sisters, a play by the Native Canadian playwright Tomson Highway. Wilder’s current book project explores the trope of collection in early modern drama. An essay in progress addresses the link between stenography and character in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Wilder has presented papers at conferences of the Renaissance Society of America, the Shakespeare Association of America, and the Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies.

Wilder sometimes describes herself as a “failed opera singer.” But although she gave up her music career after graduating from the Eastman School of Music with a B.M. in voice performance, she continues to perform when she’s allowed. Her operatic roles include Venus in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (ca. 1682) — the role was originated by Moll Davies, mistress of Charles II, but Wilder played it opposite her future husband, Steve — and Belinda in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689). She has also participated in staged readings of Lord Byron’s Marino Faliero and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good and narrated a student film — and in class, she has been known to burst into song at the slightest provocation.

Visit the English department website.

Majoring in English.

The first time I read a play by Shakespeare, I was twelve and had a bad case of the flu. I’m convinced that this was the best possible introduction to a writer — and a historical period — whose difficulty is often downplayed by adherents of the Shakespeare-is-universal school of thought. Mildly delirious with a fever of 103, I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I couldn’t understand what half the characters were saying. I simply let the language carry me. It was a perfect reading experience, entirely free and entirely strange. I try to recapture my twelve-year-old giddiness in my classroom and my own reading and writing.

Lina Wilder

Contact Lina Perkins Wilder

Mailing Address

Lina Perkins Wilder
Connecticut College
Box #5625
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


315 Blaustein Humanities