Beatrice Bradley

Humanities Teaching Fellow
Research Interests: Early Modern Literature | Critical Theory | Gender and Sexuality Studies | Greek and Latin Literatures | Medical Humanities


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

My book-in-progress, “To Sweat Extraordinarily”: Residue and Embodiment in the Early Modern World, examines the emergence of sweat as a rarefied substance—coded as erotic, aesthetically pleasing, and even materially valuable—in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry and drama. The authors in my project explore the possibility that some remnant of the self remains instantiated in human biological materials, and they understand sweat as informing constructions of identity. The fluid occupies multiple registers in the early modern period, at once associated with sexuality, affective disturbance, disease, and racialized labor. Bringing early modern literature into conversation with bioethics, I show how sweat’s wide range of signification in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries disrupts normative models of desire, reciprocity, and the body. In doing so, my project advocates for the necessary intersection of studies of waste with those of gender and sexuality, disability, and race, not only in our approach to the past but also in navigating contemporary debates surrounding human biological materials. 

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. I am the 2020 recipient of the University of Chicago’s Steiner Memorial Prize for outstanding work by a graduate student in the study of drama or criticism. 

More information, including recent publications, is available on my page