Dr. Alice Leonard

I am a Post-doctoral Researcher in Shakespeare and Early Modern literature at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

I am working on a monograph Error in Shakespeare: Shakespeare in Error. This derives from my thesis which examined the various roles of error in Shakespeare, from textual, literary and political perspectives. My thesis was a joint project between the University of Warwick (UK) and the University of Neuchâtel, supervised by Professor Thomas Docherty (Warwick) and Professor Margaret Tudeau-Clayton (Neuchâtel, Switzerland).

Besides working on my monograph, my post-doctoral research expands the focus on error into wider early modern contexts to investigate textual and humanist error. I am currently examining the representation of error in early modern dramatic errata. I am interested in all types of errors, mistakes and failures in early modern culture, especially those found in ideas about literariness, in book history, and in the politics of accusing someone of being in error.



My thesis was a study of error in the early modern period, with particular focus on Shakespeare. The first aim was to establish how error was understood in the early modern period in literary, political, generic and textual contexts, and how these differ from our present-day theories. The second aim was to understand how Shakespeare uses error to overturn the assumptions of Renaissance rhetoric that prize clear and distinct speech.

The first section explored the representation of foreign language as error in Henry V and The Dutch Courtesan, where foreign language is mixed with English. The second section examined The Comedy of Errors, arguing that in the earliest edition, textual errors multiply conceptual error, complicating the editorial excision of these ‘mistakes’. The third section pressed an important early modern meaning of ‘error’, not as incorrect but as wandering in Midsummer Night’s Dream. The final part moved from the histories and comedies to Shakespeare’s tragedies, exploring the nature of the difference between comic and tragic error.


Research Interests

Error, mistake, accident; Shakespeare; Renaissance drama; and theories of error. More broadly, I am interested in metaphor, multilingualism, and textual criticism. 


Research and publications 


Autumn 2016: convenor of 'Error and Failure in Early Modern Culture', Mondays 2-4pm

Spring 2016: 'Introduction to English Literature', Mondays 2-4pm

Office hour: Mondays 11-12pm


Email: alice.leonard@unine.ch

Email: alice.leonard@unine.ch