Simone Chess

Simone Chess

Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (GSW)
Associate Professor of English


 9204.4, 5057 Woodward

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Simone Chess



Simone Chess is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at Wayne State University in Detroit. In addition to articles and book chapters about bathrooms, gender labor, blindness, and other topics related to early modern queer, trans, and disability studies, she is the author of Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature: Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations (Routledge, 2016) and coeditor, with Colby Gordon and Will Fisher, of a special issue on “Early Modern Trans Studies” for the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies (2019). Chess is currently working on two new book projects, one on Shakespeare and trans culture for the Routledge “Spotlight on Shakespeare” series and another focused on disability, queerness, and adaptive technologies in the early modern period.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  •  Early Modern British Literature and Culture
  •  Queer and Trans Studies
  •  Gender and Sexuality
  •  Disability Studies


  • PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2008
  • BA, Smith College, 2002

Awards and grants

Wayne State Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, 2022

Wayne State Champions of Diversity and Inclusion Award, 2018

Wayne State Career Development Chair Award, Wayne State, 2017-2018

Wayne State Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, 2017

Josephine Nevins Keal Fellowship, 2013

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Teaching Award, 2012

Selected publications

Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature: Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations. New York: Routledge Press, 2016.

Edited Special Issue 

“Early Modern Trans Studies,” special issue of The Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies. vol. 19 no. 4, 2019 (actually published Summer 2020). Co-edited with Colby Gordon (Bryn Mawr) and Will Fisher (Lehman College, CUNY).

Digital Project

Project Manager, “The Warrior Women Project,” a collaboration with the University of California, Santa Barbara English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), Professor Dianne Dugaw (University of Oregon), and Wayne State University graduate and undergraduate students, to build a searchable database and virtual digital edition with teaching resources for 113 warrior woman ballads.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

“Teaching Transfeminisms: Avoiding Trans Exclusion in the Teaching of Women Writers” for a special issue on “Teaching Women Writers,” ed. Liza Blake, for Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching, (28.2), Fall 2021. pp.41-52.

“Contented Cuckolds: Infertility and Queer Reproductive Practice in Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and Machiavelli’s Mandragola” in Performing Disability in Early Modern English Drama, ed. Leslie Dunn. (New York: Palgrave, 2020). pp. 117-140.

"Opting Out: Anorexia, Asexuality, and Early Modern Women,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal (15.1), Fall 2020. pp.117-128.

“Queer Residue: Boy Actors' Adult Careers in Early Modern England.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 19.4, 2019, p. 242-264.

“Atypical Bodies” for A Cultural History of Disability: Renaissance, Bloomsbury Press (Bloomsbury Press, 2019), pp. 19-40.

“Queer Gender Informants in Ovid and Shakespeare” in Ovid and Adaptation in Early Modern English Theater, ed. Lisa Starks (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019), pp. 21-34

"Asexuality, Adolescence, and ‘Age Drag’ in Early Modern Literature” in Queering Childhood in Early Modern English Drama, eds. Jennifer Higginbotham and Mark Albert Johnston. (New York: Palgrave, 2018). pp. 31-55.

“Male Femininity and Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Shakespeare’s Plays and Poems” in Queer Shakespeare: Desire and Sexuality, ed. Goran Stanivukovic. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2017). pp. 227-244.

“Or whatever you be: Crossdressing, Sex, and Gender Labor in John Lyly’s Gallathea,” Special Issue: Sex Acts in the Early Modern World, Renaissance and Reformation. Vol 38, No 4 (2015), pp.145-166.

“Disability and Gender,” in Gender: Sources, Perspectives, and Methodologies. ed. renée c. hoogland. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2016. pp. 27-40.

“Performing Blindness: Representing Disability in Early Modern Popular Performance and Print” in Recovering Disability in Early Modern England, ed. Allison Hobgood and David Houston Wood (Ohio State University Press, 2013). pp. 105-123.

“Drinking and Good Fellowship: Working Class or Workers’ Classes at the Alehouse?” in Broadside Ballads from the Pepys Collection, ed. Patricia Fumerton (Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012). pp. 267-299. [essay together with a curated selection of ballads]

“Shakespeare’s Plays and Broadside Ballads,” Literature Compass (volume 7, 2010). pp. 772-785.

“‘and I my vowe did keepe’: Oath Making, Subjectivity and Husband Murder in 'Murderous Wife' Ballads,” in Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800, ed. Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini (Ashgate Press, 2010). pp. 131-148.

Co-Authored Essays

“Introduction: Early Modern Trans Studies,” co-written with Colby Gordon and Will Fisher. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 19.4, 2019, p. 1-25.

“The English Broadside Ballad Archive: From Theory to Practice,” co-written with Patrcia Fumerton, Tassie Gniady, and Kris McAbee. in Teaching Early Modern Literature from the Archives, MLA Options for Teaching, Heidi Brayman Hackel and Ian Moulton, eds, (New York: Modern Language Association, 2015). pp. 90-100.

“Calling All Restroom Revolutionaries,” in That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, co-authored with Alison Kafer, Mattie Udora Richardson, and Jessi Quizar. ed. Mattilda, aka Matt, Bernstein Sycamore (Soft Skull Press, 2004; reprinted 2008). pp. 216-306.

Currently teaching

ENG 7015: Shakespeare and Identity (3 credits, Winter 2022)

ENG 3110: English Literature to 1700 (3 credits, Fall 2021)

GSW 2500: Humanities Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality (3 credits, Fall 2016)

ENG 3110: British Literature to 1700 (3 credits, Fall 2016)

ENG 2200: Shakespeare's Plays and Poems (3 credits, Winter 2017)

ENG 5992/4991 (Senior/Honors Seminar: Race in the Renaissance) (3 credits, Winter 2017)

ENG 7014: Queering the Renaissance (3 credits, Winter 2019)

ENG 8002: The Warrior Women Project (3 credits, Fall 2019)

ENG 5190: The Warrior Women Project (3 credits, Winter 2020)

ENG 5150: Shakespeare (3 credits, Fall 2020)

ENG 7014: Bad Plays of the Renaissance (3 credits, Winter 2021)

 ENG 3110: British Literature to 1700 (3 credits, Fall 2021)