Beatrice Bradley

Humanities Teaching Fellow
Research Interests: Early Modern Literature; Classical Tradition and Reception; Gender and Sexuality Studies; History of Medicine and the Body


My research and teaching interests include early modern English literature, histories of medicine and the body, classical reception, and gender and sexuality studies. In my current work, I focus on the relationship between waste and identity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature. I explore in particular how early modern authors make meaning out of and/or assign value to human waste.

My dissertation, Sweat and the Embodiment of Waste in Early Modern England, examines the emergence of sweat as a rarefied substance—coded as erotic, aesthetically pleasing, even materially valuable—in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry, prose, and drama. The authors in my project explore the possibility that some remnant of the self remains instantiated in waste, and they understand sweat as closely linked to constructions of identity. Sweat occupies multiple registers in the early modern period, at once associated with sexuality, affect, disease, and labor. Bringing early modern literature into conversation with disability studies, queer theory, and bioethics, I suggest that sweat’s wide range of signification in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries offers new avenues for a more expansive valuation of excrement in contemporary thought.

Before coming to Chicago, I received my BA in English Literature and Classical Languages from Vanderbilt University and my MA in English literature from Brooklyn College. My research has been supported by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Mellon Foundation, and the Nicholson Center for British Studies.