Regular Faculty

Sean Keilen
  • Title
    • Professor of Literature
    • Chair, Council of Provosts (2022-24)
    • Interim Provost, Porter College (2022-24)
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • Literature Department
    • Cowell College
    • Porter College
  • Affiliations Theater Arts Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 629
  • Office Hours Winter 2023: by appointment. Please contact Leah Browne (9-2564,
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064

Summary of Expertise

Shakespeare, British Literature, Greek and Roman classics, history and theory of criticism, humanities in the public sphere, analog humanities, canonical authors, great books, the Western Tradition, wisdom

Biography, Education and Training

Williams College (BA), Cambridge University (BA, MA), Stanford University (MA, PhD)


Sean Keilen teaches Shakespeare's works at UC Santa Cruz, where he is Professor of Literature, Director of Shakespeare Workshop, and a former Provost of Porter College (2013-20). He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College, with degrees in English and Classics, and was the Valedictorian of his class. His senior thesis about the influence of Ovid and Virgil on The Divine Comedy won The Dante Prize from The Dante Society of America. He completed a second B.A. in English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge as a Herchel Smith Fellow. A thesis about Samuel Johnson's biography of Jonathan Swift that he wrote there won The Cambridge Quarterly Prize. Before joining the faculty at UC Santa Cruz, where he won the Committee on Teaching's Excellence in Teaching Award, Professor Keilen taught at the College of William and Mary, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania. His research has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Huntington Library and resulted in published essays about Shakespeare, Jonson, Milton, early Renaissance drama, Ovid, the idea of the classic, friendship, and classroom pedagogy, along with a book: Vulgar Eloquence: On the Renaissance Invention of English Literature with Yale in 2006. Professor Keilen's other books include a number of edited collections: Shakespeare: The Critical Complex (Garland 1999), with Stephen Orgel; The Forms of Renaissance Thought: New Essays in Literature and Culture (Palgrave 2009), with Leonard Barkan and Bradin Cormack; and The Routledge Research Companion to Shakespeare and Classical Literature (Routledge 2017), with Nick Moschovakis. A new book is nearing completion, with the working title "Shakespeare’s Scholars: Three Lessons from the Liberal Arts". Professor Keilen works closely with Santa Cruz Shakespeare, a professional theater company in Northern California, and with Julia Reinhard Lupton and UC Irvine's New Swan Shakespeare Center, on a range of programs that make Shakespeare's works and humanistic inquiry available to a diverse public.