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Frances Elizabeth Dolan
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Frances Elizabeth Dolan

  • Distinguished Professor of English
262 Voorhies
Office Hours: Tuesday, 3:15-4:15; Thursday, 12:15-1:15; and by appointment
Phone: (530) 752-1696


Professor Dolan joined the UC Davis faculty as Professor of English in 2003. Before coming to Davis, she taught at Miami University, as well as the University of Chicago and Columbia University. Her teaching and research focus on early modern English literature, law, and history (1500-1700), although she is increasingly interested in how that particular past bears on the present. She also teaches and writes on Children's Literature. 

Dolan has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (at the Newberry Library and the Folger Library), and the Monticello College Foundation.   Most recently, she was the Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library. In 2004-5, she served as the President of the Shakespeare Association of America.  At Davis, she has been named an Outstanding Graduate Mentor, a Herbert A. Young Society Deans' Fellow, and the recipient of an Academic Senate Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.

She is currently working on a book project tentatively entitled Time and Terroir:  A Northern California Renaissance. Many farmers and winemakers today locate their inspiration in the “premodern.” But what do they mean by it? Might their interest provide an entry point for a more robust understanding of that remote past? This project brings two locales of agricultural innovation--early modern England (c. 1550-1750) and Northern California today--into dialogue on the topics of compost, wine, hedges, and local food.  While the analysis is grounded in early modern archives (including ancient writers such as Pliny to whom thinkers in both periods return, the seventeenth-century explosion of printed how-to books, personal notebooks and letters, and plays and poems by Shakespeare, Milton, and Cavendish), it attends throughout to how these relate to descriptions of agricultural innovation today in books, ads, websites, and tours.  Time and Terroir recruits present concerns to motivate and shape inquiry into the past and develops historical awareness as a resource for the present.

Publication SpotlightTrue Relations

True Relations:  Reading, Literature, and Evidence in Seventeenth-Century England.

  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Winner of the 2014 John Ben Snow prize from the North American Conference on British Studies.

"This is a richly provocative book packed with stimulating insights, a work from which every early modernist can learn.  Dolan's subject is as much the methodology of historians as it is the mentalities of historical subjects.  She is a reassuring guide to issues that have vexed historians for the last thirty years . . ."—Malcolm Gaskill, American Historical Review

"At a time when the value of literature--and literary analysis--is a matter of public debate, True Relations is a carefully constructed and ultimately persuasive argument for the importance of literary critical methods."—Paula McQuade, Modern Philology

"True Relations has elements of the manifesto, as well as manifest delight in relational interpretive practices.  It deserves to be read by everyone working on early modern England."—David Cressy, Journal of British Studies

"Dolan is offering new agendas rather than solutions.  She constantly turns to the question that if a text is to be regarded as 'evidence' what exactly is it evidence of? Her insights amount to a major contribution to early modern studies and deserve widespread consideration."—James Sharpe, Times Literary Supplement

"True Relations is the kind of book that will make all its readers reflect on their own methods and responsibilities as practitioners of academic disciplines."—Rebecca Bullard, Review of English Studies

Marriage and Violence coverMarriage and Violence: The Early Modern Legacy.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

  • "a brilliant and challenging comparison of contemporary domestic violence and its early modern legacy" (Journal of Women's History)
  • “bold and original” (Journal of British Studies)
  • “marvelously polemical” (English Historical Review)
  • “challenging and provocative” (American Historical Review)
  • "Oh, how the quality of debate on same-sex marriage would improve if activists on the subject, candidates, and officials sat down to read it! Maybe it can be tossed out, like a bouquet, anywhere such players meet” (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Other books

Selected Articles

Education & Interests:

  1. Ph.D.The University of Chicago, 1988; B.A. Loyola University, 1982.

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