Dr Neema Parvini

Senior Lecturer in English

Qualifications: BA (hons.), Mst, PhD

Phone: Work: 01483 68 3129
Room no: 38 AC 05

Office hours

Neema's student consultation hours are:

Neema is on research leave for semester 2.

Further information


Neema Parvini specialises in Shakespeare studies. His research interests include political and moral philosophy, cognitive psychology, early modern history, literary theory, and historiography. He took his BA (hons) in English from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2004. During his time as an undergraduate he won the a McDonalds Scholarship (2001), the Margaret Bretherton Memorial Prize (2002), the Gertrude Schryver Prize (2004) and the Edmée Manning Award (2004). He gained his Masters degree in twentieth-century literature from Oxford university with distinction in 2005. He returned to Royal Holloway in 2006, where he was awarded a Thomas Holloway Scholarship to read for his PhD, which he completed in 2010.

Prior to joining the University of Surrey, Neema taught at Royal Holloway and Brunel, and has run the ‘Shakespeare and His World’ course at Richmond, The American International University in London since 2010.

He is the author of five books:

  • Shakespeare’s Moral Compass: Ethical Thinking in his Plays (forthcoming; Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018).
  • Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory (New York and London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2017).
  • Shakespeare and Cognition: Thinking Fast and Slow Through Character (New York and London: Palgrave, 2015).
  • Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory: New Historicism and Cultural Materialism (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2012).
  • Shakespeare’s History Plays: Rethinking Historicism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012).

He also hosts the Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory podcast series: https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/shakespeare/

Research Interests

Cognitive Psychology
New historicism and cultural materialism
Literary theory


Journal articles

  • Parvini N. (2013) 'Review of Rethinking Historicism from Shakespeare to Milton ed. Ann Baynes Coiro and Thomas Fulton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)'. Literature & History,
  • Parvini N. (2013) 'Reply to Jonathan Dollimore'. Textual Practice, 27 (4), pp. 724-733.
  • Parvini N. (2013) 'The scholars and the critics: Shakespeare studies and theory in the 2010s'. Shakespeare,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Over the past decade, Theory has given way to the archive. This article aims to gain a clearer view of the current state of critical practice by surveying a range of recent studies of Shakespeare and asking fundamental questions about their methodology and underlying assumptions. It also examines how the once commonplace distinction between scholars and critics became blurred in the years following new historicism and cultural materialism. Finally, it turns to consider the possible consequences of a discipline dominated by historical scholarship. © 2013 © 2013 Neema Parvini.


  • Parvini N. (2016) Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory. Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare


    Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory provides a comprehensive scholarly analysis of new historicism as a development in Shakespeare studies while asking fundamental questions about its status as literary theory and its continued ...

  • Parvini N. (2015) Shakespeare and Cognition Thinking Fast and Slow through Character. Palgrave Macmillan


    Why does Macbeth go from being a seemingly reasonable man to a cold-blooded killer? Why does Hamlet take so long to kill Claudius? This book aims to answer these questions from a fresh perspective.

  • Parvini N. (2012) Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory. London : Bloomsbury Academic


    In the thirty years since the publication of Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning overthrew traditional modes of Shakespeare criticism, New Historicism and Cultural Materialism have rapidly become the dominant modes for studying and writing about the Bard. This comprehensive guide introduces students to the key writers, texts and ideas of contemporary Shakespeare criticism and alternatives to new historicist and cultural materialist approaches suggested by a range of dissenters including evolutionary critics, historical formalists and advocates of 'the new aestheticism', and the more politically active presentists. Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory covers such topics as: The key theoretical influences on new historicism including Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. The major critics, from Stephen Greenblatt to Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield. Dissenting views from traditional critics and contemporary theorists. Chapter summaries and questions for discussion throughout encourage students to critically engage with contemporary Shakespeare theory for themselves. The book includes a 'Who's Who' of major critics, a timeline of key publications and a glossary of essential critical terms to give students and teachers easy access to essential information.

  • Parvini N. (2012) Shakespeare's History Plays. Rethinking Historicism. Edinburgh University Press


    This important intervention in the critical and theoretical discourse of Shakespeare studies summarises, evaluates and ultimately calls time on the mode of criticism that has prevailed in Shakespeare studies over the past thirty years. It heralds a new, more dynamic way of reading Shakespeare as a supremely intelligent and creative political thinker, whose history plays address and illuminate the very questions with which cultural historicists have been so preoccupied since the 1980s. The book reignites old debates and re-energises recent bids to humanise Shakespeare and to restore agency to the individual in the critical readings of his plays.

Internet publications

  • Parvini N. (2012) Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory (Podcast series). School of English and Languages, University of Surrey


    December 1, 2012 In this podcast Dr Neema Parvini, author of Shakespeare’s History Plays: Rethinking Historicism and Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory: New Historicism and Cultural Materialism and Lecturer in English at the University of Surrey, interviews various Shakespeare scholars and literary theorists from around the world in a bid to gain an understanding of the current state of play in Shakespeare studies and in literary criticism more generally. Through a series of candid talks, it will tackle the biggest theoretical and practical questions that have preoccupied scholars and readers of Shakespeare alike for generations: the idea that history is driven by human beings versus the idea that it is driven by forces beyond our control, the individual versus society, nature versus nurture, and freedom versus determinism.


ELI1020: Shakespeare
ELI1024: Understanding Drama
ELI1010: Theories of Reading I
ELI2023: Constructing the Self
ELI2033: Twentieth-Century British and American Drama
ELI3032: Tragedies of Blood
ELI3033: Dissertations
ELIM007: Literary Scholarship and Creativity I

Departmental Duties

Admissions Tutor
Personal Development Plan (PDP) Officer
Fire Warden

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