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Ernst Gerhardt

Ernst Gerhardt

Associate Professor | Chairperson

L-706, R.D. Parker Building Sudbury Campus


My primary areas of research and teaching are early modern English drama and creative writing. While my research focuses mainly on the religious drama of the early sixteenth century, my other areas of interest include early modern English history plays and historiography, the representation of food in medieval and early modern English drama, hockey in the Canadian literary imagination, and environmental literature.


  • B. Comm., University of Alberta (1993)
  • B.A., University of Alberta (1999)
  • M.A. Universtiy of Alberta (2001)
    • Creative writing thesis, "Dumbsaints"
  • PhD., University of Alberta (2007)
    • Dissertation: "Reforming Drama: John Bale and Early-Tudor English Nationhood

Academic Appointments

Chair, Department of English (2020 - present, 2012-15)

Director, Humanities M.A. (2018-20, 2009-11)

Core Faculty, Member, Humanities M.A.

Associate Faculty Member, PhD in Human Studies

On The Web

The LU Wakefield Players 

Ernst Gerhardt on


My current research project, "Playing with Food," investigates the relationship between material food-practices and English drama in the late-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, examining how they made sensible the limits of various collective communities—the parish and the commonwealth, for example—as well as how food materialized those communities as collective bodies.

Project Activity

  • “Playing with Food: The Towneley First Shepherds’ Play in Performance.” The Twenty-First International Biennial Congress of the New Chaucer Society, 10-15 July 2018, Toronto, ON.

  • "The Chester Noah's Flood: Animals and Dietary Regulations." The annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Medievalists, Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities, May 28-30, 2018, Regina, SK.
  • The Towneley First Shepherds’ Play.” Dec. 6, 2017. Directed and performed. Sudbury, ON. Video here.
  • “The Towneley Noah Play.” Directed and performed. Sept. 6 and 15, 2017. Sudbury, ON. Video here.
  • “Consuming Animals: Food and Audience in Medieval English Noah Plays.” Extra/Ordinary Bodies and Medieval Performance Working Session. American Society for Theatre Research Annual Conference, 16-19 November 2017, Atlanta, GA.
  •  “The unbearable rightness of eating: animals, consumption, and food in The Winter’s Tale.” Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies. Calgary, AB. 28-31 May 2016.
  • Hunger and the Eucharist: Angels’ Food in John Bale’s The Temptation of Our Lord and the Digby Mary Magdalene.” International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK. 4-7 July 2016.
  • “Revisiting the ‘Grotesque’ Feast of the Towneley First Shepherds Play.” 15th triennial Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l'étude du Théâtre Médiéval, Durham, UK. 7-12 July 2016.
  • “Dearth Manuals and the Politics of Commensality.” Early Modern Food Systems Seminar. Shakespeare Association of America Annual Conference, Vancouver, April 1-4, 2015. Paper submitted February 9, 2015.
  • Hunger Management: Textual Responses to Food Scarcity in Renaissance England.” Food, Citizenship, and Environment: An Interdisciplinary Symposium, Sudbury, Laurentian University, February 9, 2015.


Principal Investigator, LU SSHRC Support Grant: Feeding the Body Politic - Food in Late-medieval and Sixteenth-century Drama. 2014. Value $6,057

Principal Investigator, LURF Grant: Bibliographic Database of Food Practices in English Plays, 1500-1580. 2014. Value $3,887.

Principal Investigator, LURF Grant: Food and Parish and Civic Drama in the Sixteenth Century. 2012. Value $4,030.


In 2020-21, I will be teaching the following courses:

ENGL 3196: Revenge Tragedy

Course Description: Often gruesome, always violent, revenge tragedies are among the most sensational plays to have been performed on Elizabethan and Jacobean stages. Beginning with the first English play in this genre, Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, we will study the genre’s formal characteristics, tracing its development through John Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Q1), and Thomas Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy to late examples such as John Webster’s The White Devil and John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She's A Whore. Along the way, we will explore, among other themes, how the plays address the ethical nature of revenge as well as the relationship of revenge to justice; how revenge tragedies configure obligations of the living to the dead; and how the plays understand the significance of revenge to gender and sexuality.

ENGL 4105: Theory and Criticism

Course Description: What does it mean to study literature and rhetoric? How do we read and write critically? What are texts and how do they engage with the world around us? In this course, we will explore and reflect on the various critical and rhetorical methods and strategies we bring to reading, thinking about, and writing about texts. We will examine the assumptions we make when we read and interpret a text, be it an essay, a novel, poem, play, or film, thinking critically about the relationships between these assumptions and our experiences of literary and rhetorical studies at the university. Why do we study texts in the ways we do? Are there other ways we might approach our understanding of texts and our organization of literary and rhetorical study? We will reflect on these broad questions to deepen our understanding of what texts do, as well as how we might engage with them in a critical and self-reflexive manner.


“Salmon-fishing and Beer-brewing: The Drawers of Dee, the Waterleaders, and the Chester Corpus Christi and Whitsun Plays.” Medieval English Theatre 41 (2019: 134-65.

“The Towneley First Shepherds’ Play: Its ‘Grotesque Feast’ Revisited.” Early Theatre 22.2 (2019): 11-36. 

“The Towneley First Shepherds’ Play.” Direction and performance. Dec. 6, 2017. Sudbury, ON. 

“The Towneley Noah Play.” Direction and performance. Sept. 6 and 15, 2017. Sudbury, ON.

"Feeding on the Body Politic: Consumption, Hunger, and Taste in Coriolanus." In Culinary Shakespeares Staging Food and Drink in Early Modern England. Eds. David Goldstein and Amy Tigner. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press. 97-113.

"Food Production in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament.Comparative Drama ​49.3 (2015): 313-33.

"John Bale's Adaptation of Parish- and Civiv-Drama's Playing Practices." Reformation 19.1 (2014): 6-20.

"'Impoveryshyd and mad a beggar': Poverty and Widowhood in John Bale's King Johan." Reformation 14 (2009): 49-74.

"'We pray you all...To drink ere ye pass': Bann Criers, Parish Players, and the Henrican Reformation in England." Early Theatre 11.2 (2008): 57-88.

"'No quyckar merchaundyce than library bokes': John Bale's Commodification of Manuscript Culture." Renaissance Quarterly 60.2 (2007): 408-33.

“A Return on the Repressed: The Debt of History in Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative.” Philosophy Today 48.3 (2004): 245-54.