Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis

Associate Professor
Ph.D. U.C. Berkeley

(951) 827-7837

Deborah Willis (B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Berkeley) teaches and writes about Shakespeare, early modern drama, and cultural studies. Her book, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-hunting and Maternal Power in Early Modern England (Cornell University Press, 1995), explores witchcraft and witch-hunting through legal documents, pamphlet literature, religious tracts, and the plays of Shakespeare.  Other published work includes  “The Witch-Family in Elizabethan and Jacobean Print Culture” in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies (Winter 2013); “Reading the Early Modern Witch: Horror Films of the 1960s and 1970s” in The English Renaissance in Popular Culture: An Age for All Time, ed. Gregory M. Colon Semanza (Palgrave, 2010); “Doctor Faustus and the Early Modern Language of Addiction” in Placing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts, eds. Sara Munson Deats and Robert Logan (Ashgate, 2008); “The Gnawing Vulture: Trauma Theory, Revenge, and Titus Andronicus” in Shakespeare Quarterly (Spring 2002), and “Marlowe our Contemporary: Edward II on Stage and Screen” in Criticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts (Fall 1998).  She has also contributed to such collections as Enclosure Acts: Sexuality, Property, and Culture in Early Modern England (Cornell UP, 1994), A Case Study in Critical Controversy: The Tempest (Macmillan, 2000), A Companion to Renaissance Drama (Blackwell, 2002), and The Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare: A Comprehensive Guide for Students (Greenwood Press, 2005).  Current projects focus on early modern concepts of addiction, the demonic pact in demonologies and early modern plays, and Macbeth.  

Professor Willis served as Chair of the English Department from 2009-2015 and continues to serve as the Director of English 1ABC, in charge of TA-training and curriculum development.   Earlier, she has been the English Department’s Graduate Recruitment Director (2004-2006), coordinated the University of California Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium (2003-2006), and directed the Hewlett Program in General Education (1999-2002), a forerunner of CHASS Connect.

Curriculum Vitae

Recent Courses Taught:

English 273: Reading the Early Modern Witch

English 262: Carnival and Cruelty in Early Modern England

English 289: Shakespeare and Desire

English 148Q: Studies in a Major Author: Christopher Marlowe

English 147F: Studies in a Major Work: King Lear

English 142E: Witchcraft and Cultural Practice in Early Modern England

English 142J: Shakespeare and Carnival

English 117C: Shakespeare’s Tragedies

English 117T: Topics in Shakespeare


malevolent nuture