Professor Emeritus of English
Shakespeare; English Renaissance literature.
Since arriving at Mount Holyoke in 1990, Peter Berek has served the College in several capacities: as professor of English, as interim president (fall 1995), and as dean of faculty and provost (1990-1998). When he stepped down as dean of faculty and provost, former President Joanne V. Creighton praised his contributions in many areas, including faculty hiring, curriculum revision, diversity, strategic planning, and budget management.
Since 1998, Berek has devoted his time to teaching, advising, and scholarship. He teaches first-year writing-intensive seminars every year, most recently Pasts and Presences: An Introduction to the Humanities in the West. Berek also regularly teaches Introduction to the Study of Literature (required of all English majors), Shakespeare, and such advanced-level seminars in the early modern period as Elizabethan Theater and Hollywood Movies: Popular Art, Genre, and Topical Meanings. He often uses technology in his teaching and says he has found particular satisfaction in working collaboratively with student writing and speaking mentors.
Berek publishes essays on Shakespeare's plays and other aspects of Renaissance poetry and theater. His most recent works are on Jews in early modern England and on cross-dressing in the Beaumont and Fletcher plays. He is now studying the place of generic categories such as "tragedy" and "comedy" in early modern print culture.
- “The Jew as Renaissance Man,” Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998), 128-162.
- “Cross-Dressing, Gender and Absolutism in the Beaumont and Fletcher Plays,” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 44, 2 (Spring 2004), 359-377.
- “Genres, Early Modern Theatrical Title Pages, and the Authority of Print,” in Marta Straznicky, ed., The Book of the Play: Playwrights, Stationers and Readers in Early Modern England, University of Massachusetts Press (2006), pp. 159-176.
- “'Follow the Money': Sex, Murder, Print and Domestic Tragedy,” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 21 (2008), 170-188.
- “Tragedy and Title Pages: Nationalism, Protestantism, and Print,” Modern Philology: Critical and Historical Studies in Literature, Medieval Through Contemporary, 2008 Aug; 106 (1): 1-24.
- "Peter Berek Says It's His Last Year as Dean of Faculty and Provost," College Street Journal, July 18, 1997