Dr. Martina Bross

Proceedings opened: 30 September 2015

Dissertation colloquium: 29 April 2016

Proceedings finished


Biographical information

  • Since June 2016: Program Coordinator at the Graduate Academy of the University of Tübingen
  • 2013-2016: Research Assistant at the DFG Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception at Tübingen University
  • 2011-2015: Work on PhD project “Versions of Hamlet: Poetic Economy on Page and Stage”
  • 2011-2013: Research Assistant at the English Department of Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
  • February 2011: Graduated with distinction from Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Magister Artium)
  • Since 2008: Editorial Assistant for Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate
  • 2005-2011: Studied English Literature, German Literature and Rhetoric at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and Bangor University, Wales


Research interests

  • Shakespeare
  • Early Modern English Drama
  • Poetic Economy
  • Ambiguity
  • Evaluation in and of narrative fiction



»Versions of Hamlet - Poetic Economy on Page and Stage«

The PhD project analyses different “versions” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, including scripts for the stage as well as Q1, Q2 and F. The main criterion for the analysis of those versions is the principle of poetic economy, i.e. the adjustment of a poet’s means or resources, such as language and subject matter, to fulfil a particular function, e.g. to achieve a particular effect in an audience or in the depiction of a character. Ambiguity is an important aspect of the analysis: It can be utilized in order to economically achieve an intended effect in the different versions (PS+), but it can also result from adjustments based on economic principles (PS-).

The importance of a trade-off between “too much” and “too little” in the production of literary texts and its implications for their perception can be traced back to ancient poetics and rhetorical theory (see e.g. Aristotle 8). This concept, which can be termed poetic economy, manifests itself in a particularly poignant way in early modern poetics and rhetorical theory, namely in the notion of the perfect work, in which all carefully selected and arranged parts contribute to the functional whole. As Sidney states in his Defence of Poesy (1595): “one [word] cannot be lost but the whole work fails” (886-88). Nothing can be added, changed or taken away.

This notion of poetic economy and the perfect work is particularly interesting with regard to Hamlet, which exists in three early printed versions. There seems to be a discrepancy between the poetological concept of the perfect work and the textual reality of Hamlet, which lives on in different versions and is still considered to be one work.

As economy is closely linked to the production and perception of ambiguity, ambiguity plays a central role in the project’s approach to the different versions of Hamlet. The project analyses examples of strategic and non-strategic production and perception of ambiguity in speaker–hearer-interaction on both levels of communication in drama and also focuses on processes of limiting and multiplying meaning in the stage versions of Hamlet.



  • Bross, Martina (2017). Versions of Hamlet: Poetic Economy on Page and Stage. Paderborn: Schöningh.
  • Bross, Martina (2015). “´Equivocation will undo us`? Wordplay and Ambiguity in Hamlet’s First and Second Line.” In: Wordplay and Metalinguistic / Metadiscursive Reflection: Authors, Contexts, Techniques, and Meta-Reflection. Ed. Angelika Zirker and Esme Winter-Froemel. Berlin: de Gruyter, 25-45.
  • Bross, Martina; Matthias Bauer (2014). “Character Writing and the Stage in the Early Seventeenth Century”. Anglistentag 2013 Proceedings. Ed. Silvia Mergen­thal and Reingard M. Nischik. Trier: WVT, 2014. 195-206.



  • “Narrative Fiction and Evaluative Ambivalence: Austen’s Northanger Abbey“ (with Prof. Dr. René Ziegler, Social Psychology), Symposium Ambiguity and Ambivalence, Tübingen, 12-14 February 2016
  • “Poetic Justice on Page and Stage: David Garrick’s 1772 Hamlet”, 13th International Connotations-Symposium “Poetic Justice: Legal, Ethical, and Aesthetic Judgments in Literary Texts”, Tübingen, 26.-30. July 2015
  • “Seventeenth-Century Character Writing and the Stage” (with Prof. Dr. Matthias Bauer), Anglistentag, Konstanz, 18-21 September 2013
  • “Wordplay in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Hamlet’s First Line”, Wordplay and Metalinguistic Reflection – New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Tübingen, 7-9 March 2013
  • “Dramatic Dialogue and Poetic Economy: Shakespeare’s Hamlet”, 1st Tübingen Summer School “Dialogues between Form and Meaning: Linguistic Methods in Literary Studies”, Tübingen, 1-3 September 2011
  • Presentation of Master Thesis “Poetic Economy and the Length of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet”, 11th International Connotations-Symposium “Poetic Economy: Ellipsis and Redundancy in Literature”, Freudenstadt/Tübingen, 31 July-4 August 2011



  • Winter term 2015/2016
    • Undergraduate Seminar: "Introduction to Literary Studies".
  • Summer term 2013
    • Undergraduate Seminar: “Drama: Play, Text, Performance”.
  • Winter term 2012/2013
    • Undergraduate Seminar: “Hamlet: Texts and Contexts”.
  • Summer term 2012
    • Undergraduate Seminar: “Shakespeare’s Comedies” (with excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon).
  • Winter term 2011/2012
    • Undergraduate Seminar: "Renaissance Revenge Tragedy".
    • Tutorial for the lecture course “English Literature in the 17th Century”.