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Cardiff Shakespeare PhD students

Present PhD students working on Shakespeare or the early-modern period at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy

See also: Cardiff Shakespeare Publications


Sophie Battell‘s thesis title is “Hospitality in Shakespeare’s Problem Plays, 1597-1603″.

Nicole Davall

My PhD thesis, focusing on “Presenting Shakespeare”, aims to examine the ways in which the presentation of “Shakespeare” shapes our view of the plays. An important sideline to this research is investigating the reasons why certain current presentational conventions have come about (such as the inevitable bed inserted by most modern directors into the closet scene of Hamlet). I am particularly interested in the relationship between textual and theatrical presentation and how the two modes are dealt with critically. My interest in this topic was initially sparked by my recent experience directing The Merchant of Venice for the ‘Act One’ Drama Society. Although Shakespeare is obviously my main area of research, I also have a keen interest in late-Medieval literature and drama of all kinds.

Elizabeth Ford is currently researching the role of the stage clown in the composition and revision of Shakespeare’s plays.  She has recently given papers on her doctoral work at Cardiff University’s Early Modern Mentalities Conference (October 2008), the Shakespeare Institute’s Brit Grad Conference (July 2009), and Durham University’s Seventeenth-Century Studies Conference (July 2009). In September 2009, she was a participant in the Repertory Studies Panel, for the British Shakespeare Association Conference held at King’s College, London and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Her participation at forthcoming conferences include the Renaissance Society of America in Venice (April 2010), the Henry Vaughan Colloquium in Brecon (May 2010), and Reading University’s Early Modern Studies Conference (July 2010). Elizabeth has a forthcoming publication for Early Theatre (2010), entitled ‘Will Kemp’s threat to Romeo and Juliet’.

Darren Freebury-Jones’ PhD thesis will focus on imitation and collaboration in Shakespeare’s early plays. The primary aim is to expand our definition of collaboration and to remove some of its pejorative associations. Through analysing the different ways in which authors actively collaborated - as, for example, Shakespeare and Fletcher did – it is possible to reveal some of the ways in which Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights operated. The thesis will also expand on Stephen J. Lynch’s work on the early plays, looking at how Shakespeare imitated the plot sources and styles of his fellow playwrights. The argument is intended to continue the shift in recent editorial theorising away from the notion of the single dramatic author towards a more social, but also more intertextual, authorship and process of composition.

Michael Goodman: The aim of my thesis is to explore how modern technology allows us to create exciting scholarly resources that enable academics, students and the wider public to engage dynamically with historical texts. My research is based around illustrated editions of the Collected Works of William Shakespeare and I am currently curating and creating an open access database of Shakespeare illustrations from this era which will eventually go onto Cardiff University’s Database of Mid Victorian Illustration.  I hope to analyse the philosophical implications inherent in such a project and, ultimately, how digital humanities can play a vital role in educational practices.

Johann Gregory‘s research interests lie in how literary works play with audience and reader expectations. Supervised by Prof. Richard Wilson and Dr Irene Morra, he is completing his doctoral research on Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and audience expectation at Cardiff University where he teaches on a medieval and Renaissance literature course. His latest publications include: an article on paratexts and matters of taste in Shakespeare – the journal of the British Shakespeare Association; a co-authored article on audience in Assuming Gender; a book chapter forthcoming in Medieval and Early Modern Authorship ed. Lukas Erne and Guillemette Bolens (2011); and, an essay in Actes du Congrès organisé par la Société Française Shakespeare (2011). He has reviewed for Cahiers Élisabéthains, English Studies, Notes and Queries, The Review of English Studies, and Shakespeare, and manages the website Cardiff Shakespeare.

He co-organised the one-day conference Islands of Thought: Early-Modern Mentalities and Politics and has presented papers at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Cardiff University’s Assuming Gender Conference, Geneva University, Derrida Today, and the Congrès 2011 de la Société Française Shakespeare.

He curated a small exhibition on Healthy Reading 1590-1690 and in September 2011 he co-present a paper, with Alun Thomas, at the Shakespeare: Sources and Adaptations Conference at Cambridge University.

Lara O’Connor‘s work – tentatively entitled The Fleeting Text ­– focuses on the dichotomy of Shakespeare as both poet and playwright. Re-examining the work of the 1590s, she aims to demonstrate that Shakespeare amalgamates elements of poetry, classical tragedy and theatrical tradition to push the existing dramatic boundaries and self-consciously define a new creative balance and model between the dramatic and the poetic.

Mareile Phannebecker‘s thesis title is ‘Subject to Change: Italian encounters in English travel writing 1570-1630′.

Étienne Poulard‘s thesis – entitled ‘Shakespeare and Anachronism’ – explores the ‘strange-disposèd time’ of Shakespeare’s dramas, by suggesting that they are haunted by a general untimeliness, by a certain strangeness indeed. Hamlet’s postmodern dictum that ‘The time is out of joint’ announces a great cycle of tragedies, in which deferral of action becomes a founding principle in Shakespearean tragedy.

In his thesis, Étienne argues that Shakespeare’s anachronisms constitute a privileged locus for the return of the repressed. For what the dramas repress, ultimately, is history. From Henry V to Macbeth, the intrusion of Elizabethan and Jacobean politics into the plays blurs the boundary between past and present, but also between history and literature.

Étienne has published an article on ideology and its displacement in The Tempest for the online International Journal of Žižek Studies. His other research interests include visuality, authority and performativity.

Alun Thomas‘ PhD thesis title is ‘The Making and Remaking of History in Shakespeare’s History Plays’. Alun’s research is concerned with a single question: ‘Where does history take place in Shakespeare’s history plays?’ The focus of his research is the first and second tetralogies of the history plays, drawing on the work of Hayden White and employing Clifford Geertz’s methodology of ‘thick description’ to unpack the layers that make up particular moments of history-making in the plays.

to be continued…


Selected Cardiff University Recent Alumni

Dr Roger Christofides‘ PhD thesis title (Cardiff University, 2008) is  Shakespeare and equivocation: language and the doom in Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear

Publications include:

Shakespeare and the Apocalypse, monograph forthcoming from Continuum

‘Iago and Equivocation: The Seduction and Damnation of Othello’, Early Modern Literary Studies, 15:1 (2010) <http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/15-1/chriothe.htm>

‘The Politics of Language Use in Postcolonial Cyprus: Textual Seduction in the Mediterranean’, Interventions: The International Journal for Postcolonial Studies, 12:3 (2010), 415-427


Dr Vanessa Cunningham was awarded an MBE for Services to Cardiff University in 2000, and became a Fellow of the University in 2001.  She is the author of Shakespeare and Garrick (2008) and author, with John Goodwin, of Cardiff University: A Celebration (2001).

Dr Joseph Sterrett is currently Associate Lecturer at Aarhus University. His PhD thesis title (Cardiff University, 2009) is

Speaking to stones: Shakespeare’s use of the unheard prayer

to be continued…

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