Plenary Panel Announcement: Postgraduate Welfare

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday Weekend from a very sunny Stratford! The Morris dancers are out in force and the town is buzzing, which has the Britgrad committee in the mood to make a very special announcement.

We are a conference run by postgraduates for postgraduates and we have the academic experience in mind when we are planning every detail of the conference. This is why we wanted to put a spotlight on postgraduate welfare with a panel of academics and support officers speaking on issues which effect academics at every career level. Without much further ado, here’s the speakers who will make up this year’s welfare panel:

Dr Sonia Suman is the Welfare Tutor for the University of Birmingham’s School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies. Sonia completed her PhD thesis in the early modern history play and early modern theories of the senses.

Dr Charlotte Mathieson is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in the School of English and Languages at the University of Surrey. She is also Chair of the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association UK & Ireland, and co-covenes the Transport and Mobility History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London. Charlotte has also worked on early career researcher support for several years and much of her work is available on her website.

Dr José A. Pérez Díez is a Research Fellow at the School of English of the University of Leeds. José undertook his PhD at the Shakespeare Institute, where he completed the first modern-spelling critical edition of Love’s Cure, or The Martial Maid by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. José will also be attending the conference as a solo plenary speaker, and we are delighted to also have him join the welfare panel.

Dr Erin Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer at The Shakespeare Institute, cultural historian and literary scholar. Erin’s research interests are in two distinct but related strands: the cultural history of emotions, especially sadness, and the performance of Shakespeare today. Here at the Institute, Erin is also the our Tutor for Distance Learning.

The Britgrad committee are particularly excited to be initiating a welfare panel for the first time this year. More information on how to register for Britgrad can be found here on our blog.

New Plenary Speaker: Julian Harrison

As our list of plenary speakers for this years conference keeps growing, the BritGrad committee are excited to share with you our next plenary speaker. While we are busy compiling the schedule we are delighted to introduce Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 manuscripts at the British Library.


Julian’s research area covers medieval and early modern manuscripts from the British Isles, spanning the Anglo-Saxon period to the 17th century. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow.

Julian has recently curated the British Library’s exhibition on the Magna Carta (2015) and an exhibition on Shakespeare at the University of Birmingham’s library (2016).  He is the lead curator of the forthcoming Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library.   Julian has previously delivered a paper here at the Institute and we very much look forward to welcoming him back this year.

New Plenary Speaker: Dr. Abigail Rokison-Woodall

This week we have a familiar face to add to our list of plenary speakers! It gives us great pleasure to announce Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall will be speaking at this year’s BritGrad conference. After lecturing at Cambridge University for seven years, Abigail is now a senior lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre and the Shakespeare and Creativity.


Abigail began her career as a professional actor before moving into academia to pursue research interests in Shakespeare in performance. Her particular research areas include verse speaking, adaptation and theatre history. Her most recent publication documents the career of Nicholas Hytner for Arden Bloomsbury.

Abigail is also working with Arden Bloomsbury as a General Editor of the new Arden Shakespeare in Performance Editions, for which series she is editing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. We are very excited for Abigail to join the conference as a plenary speaker.

New Plenary Speaker: Angus Jackson

Today is our Call for Papers deadline, so the BritGrad committee would like to celebrate the abstracts we have received so far by introducing a very exciting plenary speaker: acclaimed director Angus Jackson. The Shakespeare Institute is particularly excited to welcome Angus, whose work has been a fixture at the Royal Shakespeare Company (and so naturally a source of conversation for our Stratford students!) for the past few years.


Previously an Associate Directer at Chichester Festival Theatre, in 2014 Jackson transferred his production of King Lear with the company to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He has also earned a BAFTA nomination for the screen version of Elmina’s Kitchen, which enjoyed success as a stage production under his direction at the National Theatre. More recently, Jackson’s work with the RSC includes the sell-out run of Oppenhiemer, which transferred to London after premiering in the Swan Theatre, and directing David Threlfall and Rufus Hound in Don Quixote.

He is currently the season director of the RSC’s Rome season and directed Julius Caesar in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. We are especially delighted to welcome Angus as a speaker, as tickets for this production of Caesar are available for conference attendees to purchase as part for the Thursday evening of the conference.

Call For Papers Deadline Extended to 27th of March

The BritGrad team have been delighted by the abstract submissions so far, so much so that we are extending our Call For Papers deadline! You now have until midnight on the 27th of March to propose an abstract for this year’s conference. Just to sharpen your memory, here’s all the information about BritGrad’s Call For Papers:

We invite graduate students with interests in Shakespeare, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies to submit paper proposals for the Nineteenth Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference on the 1st-3rd June 2017.

This interdisciplinary conference provides a friendly and stimulating academic forum in which graduate students from all over the world can present their research and meet together in an active centre of Shakespeare research: Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend the RSC production of Julius Caesar, directed by Angus Jackson, at a group-booking price. Lunch will be provided each day, and there will be a party and reception for attendees. Please check our blog for upcoming announcements of plenary speakers as they are confirmed.

We welcome abstracts of up to 200 words proposing papers twenty minutes in length on subjects relating to Shakespeare, Early Modern, and/or Renaissance Studies. More creative forms of criticism, such as original writing or performance, may also be submitted, also requiring a 200-word abstract. The committee also welcomes papers from a wide variety of disciplines, from literature to art and cultural history and beyond. Undergraduate students in their final two years of study are invited to attend the conference as auditors (non-speakers).

Extended Deadline for Paper Proposals: 23:59 GMT on 27 March 2017.

Presenters will be notified of acceptance in time to register by 21 April and secure any necessary visas. Auditors are encouraged to register by 19 May for early-bird pricing. Due to the growing success of this annual conference, we strongly encourage early registration to ensure a place on the conference programme.

For more information you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and at Our email address is; please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.


We look forward to reading your submissions.

Plenary Speaker Announcement: Dr. Jem Bloomfield

Another week closer to BritGrad means we have another plenary speaker to introduce! We’re excited to add to the list Dr Jem Bloomfield of the University of Nottingham.


Jem Bloomfield studied at the universities of Oxford and Exeter, writing his doctorate on the reception of The Duchess of Malfi from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.  During this work he became particularly interested in the ways in which cultural authority is exerted and contested through the performance of particular texts. He is Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of Nottingham, and recent publications include a chapter on the critical history of The White Devil in the Arden Critical Reader, and an article on the Eucharist in The Hunger Games for the journal Theology.

Last year he published Words of Power: Reading Shakespeare and the Bible, which explores the ways in which these two collections are read as “sacred texts”.  The book examines the canonisation, interpretation, performance and institutionalisation of the cultural icons we refer to as “Shakespeare and the Bible”, emphasizing how they are read into existence via these processes. His blog, Quite Irregular, covers religion, gender and the arts, and has been cited by a range of academic and media outlets, from the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association and the Church Times, to Times Higher Education and Glamour magazine.

Jem has also previously delivered a paper at the Institute’s Thursday Seminar and the BritGrad committee are delighted to be welcoming him back.

Our next plenary speaker: Heather Knight

Last week we confirmed out first plenary speaker, Dr José A. Pérez Díez, who we are delighted to announce will be joined by Senior Archeologist with the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), Heather Knight.


Heather was recently involved in the excavations of the Theatre and the Curtain, two 16th century Elizabethan playhouses in Shoreditch where many of Shakespeare’s early plays were performed. The main excavation of the Curtain playhouse took place last year and the post-excavation analysis has only just begun but the results of the excavation are already contributing enormously to an interdisciplinary dialogue researching the origins of English drama.

Heather is a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and has been a Senior Archaeologist with MOLA since 1995. Over that time Heather has focused on the archaeology of medieval and post-medieval urban development in Greater London with a particular emphasis on theatre archaeology. Heather is also a member of the Advisory Board for “Before Shakespeare”, a multidisciplinary research project focusing on early modern drama and the first 30 years of London commercial playhouses.

We’re very much looking forward to welcoming all of this year’s plenaries to BritGrad and hope you will keep an eye on our blog as we announce more speakers. If you would like to submit a paper to BritGrad, details and the relevant information can be found here on our blog.

Our first plenary speaker: Dr José A. Pérez Díez

The BritGrad committee are delighted to confirm our first plenary speaker! A Shakespeare Institute alumnus, José is now a Research Fellow at the School of English of the University of Leeds.

         Dr José A. Pérez Díez

During his PhD at the Shakespeare Institute, José completed the first modern-spelling critical edition of Love’s Cure, or The Martial Maid by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. He is currently part of the team of scholars working on the new edition of the complete works of John Marston, due to be published by Oxford University Press in 2020.

His main field of research is Anglo-Spanish literary and cultural relations in the Jacobean period, with specific interests in the plays of John Fletcher and the literary connections of the Count of Gondomar. He is also interested in the performance of rarely produced Renaissance drama, and has founded at Leeds The Playhouse Lab, a permanent forum to explore plays from the period in unrehearsed script-in-hand conditions to support teaching and practical research. He is a frequent reviewer of opera and Renaissance drama, including Shakespeare, for various academic journals and for the web portal Reviewing Shakespeare, of which he is Associate Editor for England. He is also the Membership Officer of the British Shakespeare Association.

In addition to his own plenary session, José will also be one of four people to take part in a new addition to BritGrad’s programme this year: a round-table discussion featuring early-career academics which aims to address welfare-related issues widely impacting academics both during and after the completion of doctoral work.

We are excited to welcome Dr José A. Pérez Díez to be a part of the Nineteenth Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference and look forward to him sharing is work with us!

Register for BritGrad 2017

We are very excited to announce that registration to attend this year’s BritGrad Conference is now open! You can find all the information on how to register and the details of the conference here, or along the top bar of our blog.

You can use this page to find the Registration Form, information about fees as well as details of an offer to see Julius Caesar at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre alongside this year’s conference.

Be sure to follow our blog for upcoming information on this year’s plenary speakers and more details about BritGrad 2017.

Tips for Writing an Effective Abstract

The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference offers many postgraduate students their first opportunity to present an academic paper. This can be simultaneously exciting and daunting, so we’d like to offer up some tools and resources that might help you to prepare for your first conference presentation.

As is standard with most conferences, the first step to presenting at BritGrad is submitting an abstract. Writing an abstract for the first time can be a challenging task, as it requires you to clearly and concisely present your research with a certain degree of specificity whilst adhering to a limited word count. (In this case, it’s 200 words.)

The following points can help guide you in figuring out the most important areas of your chosen topic to discuss in your abstract:

  • Subject – What are you writing about?
  • Purpose/Aim/Objective – Why write about it?
  • Nature of Field and Contribution – What else is written on this subject? Is your paper related to a larger field of study? How are in interacting with existing scholarship and discourse?
  • Evidence – What sources/textual references do you use to support your argument? Is there anything unique about the nature of this evidence?
  • Approach – What is the angle? What might be unique about the research you’ve done or the evidence you provide?
  • Argument – What is your overall claim or main argument?
  • Conclusions – What conclusions do you make? Are there areas still open for exploration on this subject?

Remember that these points are guidelines and are not intended to be followed in a particular order. They can be rearranged and combined as you see fit.

Need some examples? Curious to see what other students have presented at BritGrad? Click here to see programmes from past years which contain a variety of abstracts written by past presenters.

Don’t forget that the deadline for abstracts is 23:59 GMT on 21 March 2017. We look forward to reading your abstract. Good luck, and happy writing!