Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I currently supervise students working on Shakespeare and legal theory, Shakespeare and corporeality, the performance of Shakespeare in minority languages, conceptions of time in the Renaissance, the relationship between Shakespeare and the Jesuit poet Robert Southwell, the live broadcasting of Shakespearean performance, and the cupio dissolvi tradition in Shakespeare and Donne.

I would be happy to hear from prospective research students interested in working on Shakespeare and the emotions, Shakespeare and the body and/or soul, Shakespeare and twenty-first-century performance, and Shakespeare and digital culture. In 2018 I was very fortunate to receive University of Birmingham's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Researcher Supervision for the College of Arts and Law.

Further information about the PhD application and funding is available on the University of Birmingham website: students should read through this information before contacting me. Strong candidates for a PhD place will typically have an MA with distinction in a relevant subject area and a well-developed sense of their proposed research project.


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Personal profile


I studied for a BA in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, after which I moved to England on a Fulbright postgraduate scholarship to study for an MA in Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute. I completed my PhD at University College London, where I held the Roy Porter Memorial Studentship and was jointly affiliated with the English department and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. I took up my post at Birmingham in 2010 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2015.

Research interests

I am interested in the intersection of culture, identity, and the arts, chiefly in the Renaissance and early modern periods, but increasingly in more modern contexts too. Most of my research to date has dealt with this broad field of interest through the lens of the history of emotion and psychology. My first monograph, Beyond Melancholy: Sadness and Selfhood in Renaissance England (OUP, 2016), explores the understanding and experience of sadness in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, paying particular attention to the way literature and drama offers access to the emotional life of the past. My edited collection with Richard Meek, The Renaissance of Emotion: Understanding Affect in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (MUP, 2015), considers the central role feeling played in early modern religious, political, and cultural life. In 2013 I held a six-week Universitas 21 Fellowship at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of the Emotions, where I pursued research on both of these book projects, gave a public lecture at the UQ Art Gallery, and talked about my work on Australian national radio.

In recent years I have also become interested in Shakespeare's performance and celebration today, especially in relation to the experience of identity and community. In 2012 I led an AHRC-funded project with Paul Prescott and Paul Edmondson that investigated Shakespeare's role in the London Olympic Celebrations, resulting in an open access festival archive,, and two edited collections for Bloomsbury's Arden Shakespeare series: A Year of Shakespeare: Re-living the World Shakespeare Festival (2013) and Shakespeare on the Global Stage: Performance and Festivity in the Olympic Year (2015).

My next book project is a study of Shakespeare and digital performance that looks at how technological innovations such as live theatre broadcasting, the staging of digital media, and audience participation through social media are reshaping how we encounter and experience Shakespeare as performance. I am particularly interested in how we respond to such work emotionally, and I blog about these issues at In 2017 I held a one-month fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, to develop this project.


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