2004: Dr. Jaster

Dr. Margaret Jaster Awarded for Her Shakespearean Specialization

When Dr. Jaster was a child, she tried to borrow a copy of Macbeth at the library, but the librarian told her she couldn’t read it because it would be too hard for her. This gave Dr. Jaster the determination to prove herself and it became the catalyst of her love of Shakespeare.

Penn State Harrisburg hired Dr. Margaret Jaster as the Shakespeare specialist in 1995. Since then, her Shakespeare enthusiasm has been contagious, say her students: “If there are two things Dr. Jaster loves, it’s Shakespeare and her students. Her enthusiasm for Shakespeare is contagious and it’s obvious she loves what she does.”

When she went on sabbatical in 2002-2003, she accepted a fellowship from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. to research clothes in the Renaissance, one of her research specialties. She teaches a Clothes and Cultures course that has had powerful effects on students. One student said that from the course, she gained insight on how “historically, women have been depicted to be controlled through the use of clothing in a male-dominated society.” Dr. Jaster has also taken students on trips to the Shakespeare Library.

In 2013, Jaster won the American Shakespeare Center’s Words in Action Award. This was the second year in a row Jaster was nominated for the honor, which is based on student recommendations and the quality of learning that students display. The award, presented annually on Shakespeare’s birthday, recognizes teachers from elementary to university levels whose approach to Shakespeare inspires students and personifies Shakespeare’s advice to be “great in act as you have been in thought.”


  • Ph.D. English Literature, University of Maryland at College Park
  • M.A. in British Literature, Farleigh Dickinson University in Oxford, England
  • B.S. English Education, Holy Family College on scholarship for first-generation college women

Prior Roles

  • From 1994 to 1995 taught at George Mason University
  • From 1989 to 1994 taught at University of Maryland at College Park
  • Taught junior and high school English for 14 years in Cape May, NJ; Also coached softball, directed literary magazines, honor society, and the junior high school newspaper

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