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!

BritGrad 2017: Call For Papers


1-3 June 2017

The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

Now that we are speeding towards the end of January, we are very excited to announce our own CFP! We have updated our Call for Papers page with all the information you will need for 2017 and you can also find the link right here.

As with last year, due to to the limited amount of space and time slots in which to include all those who desire to submit abstracts, we have separated the registration and abstract submission processes. This means all of you who wish to submit a 200-word abstract should do so first before registering once we have replied to you. Once we have responded to your submission, registration opens for delegates and auditors on April 1st. More information regarding dates and deadlines can be found here .

Please get in touch if you have any further questions or queries – we’re here to help.

~ The BritGrad Committee


Meet our new committee!

As we storm through January, it’s time to look forward to BritGrad 2017. This year’s committee have been working away behind the scenes to set everything in motion, so we thought it’s time for a round of introductions. At the Shakespeare Institute, we appreciate that you can tell a lot about a person from what they like about Shakespeare. So we tasked our wonderful committee to tell us their favourite Shakespeare play and why they are looking forward to BritGrad…

Co-chairs: Elizabeth Jeffery and Karen Harker 


This is our co-chair Elizabeth’s second time serving on the committee, so what’s her favourite thing about BritGrad?

One of the great things I love about BritGrad is that the conference brings a lot of academics together from very different backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to have some very stimulating conversations and the energy brought by all the participants is electric. I can’t wait share that experience again.

And the tough question: what is her favourite Shakespeare play?

Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite. It cracks me up every time, no matter how many times I see it.


Karen is currently a PhD student here at the Institute, after completing her MA in 2015. She told us about her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favorite play is King Lear, although Twelfth Night comes as a close second. King Lear is complex, both textually and in regards to its performativity. The questions of which text to use, how to stage particular scenes, and the characterization of the Fool mean that performances across history are varied, and even in modern contexts, generate interesting and often heated debate. A myriad of adaptations have reinterpreted and appropriated the text and characters in extremely interesting and thought-provoking ways. On a personal level, I have always loved the character of Kent, who gives my favorite quote from all of Shakespeare in the first act: “See better.”

Secretary: Corinne Furness


Corinne is a PhD student at the Institute and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She told us why As You Like It is her favourite Shakespeare play:

I’m a nightmare list maker when it comes to favourite plays (I want to choose one from each category!) but if forced to choose on pain of death I would say As You Like It, because the ability to write joy is massively underrated. As You is a world where the characters revel in joy (with the notable exception of Jacques who, of course, revels in sadness) and maybe in 2017 a dose of a world of joy and possibility is exactly what we need!

Co-registrars: Martin Higgins and Philippa Vandome


After a BA in English Literature and Philosophy, Martin is currently undertaking an  MA in Shakespeare Studies.  We asked him what he is looking forward to about this year’s BritGrad and, of course, his favourite Shakespeare play…

BritGrad will be my first academic conference as a postgraduate, so I’m really looking forward to participating. My favourite Shakespeare play is Coriolanus because I think it’s the most dramatically effective Roman play and a very provocative tragedy. 



Philippa is studying for an MA in Shakespeare and Theatre, but what’s her favourite Shakespeare play?

If had to choose I think I would go for Much Ado About Nothing, because I simply love Beatrice and wish I was her!

Treasurer: Kelsey Ridge 


Kelsey Ridge is currently working towards her Ph.D. at the Shakespeare Institute. We asked Kelsey for her favourite Shakespeare play:

While there’s nothing quite like Macbeth, my favourite Shakespeare play is Cymbeline, because for me it’s kind of like a ‘Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits’ album.

Publicity: Beth Sharrock



Beth is studying an MA in Shakespeare Studies. Her favourite Shakespeare play? And what is she looking forward to about this year’s BritGrad conference?

I can never quite decide but I keep coming back to write about Titus Andronicus. I’m really interested in the effect of spectacle and in embodiment, and I think Titus speaks for itself on those two counts. This is my first BritGrad conference and I’m very excited to talk with attendants and find out what is occupying everyone’s attention around Shakespeare at the moment. 

It/Tech: Jennifer Waghorn


This is Jennifer’s third time on the BritGrad committee, which she has managed to fit around a PhD at the Shakespeare Institute. Jen told us about her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favourite play, for this week at least, is The Tempest. I’ve gradually come to love it over the past few months: because the backstory and resolution are so rich, because the structure works so well, because the possibilities for setting and for relationships for the main four characters are endless, because Shakespeare does something thoroughly unprecedented and very exciting with theatre music, and because of Ariel. And the best thing about BritGrad is an overwhelming sense of being welcomed into an academic community, by your peers and by the plenaries who are willing to share their time and experience with you. It’s a great confidence boost if you’re an emerging academic

Party Planner and Catering: Andrea Moon


Andrea is currently studying an MA in Shakespeare and Education. We asked Andrea for her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favourite play is Hamlet. I love the intensity of the scenes, the hectic creativity of Hamlet, actions and words, and then the performative possibilities and how the play always carries humorous charm despite being a tragedy. Its a kaleidoscope of emotions when you watch it.

If you’d like to know about the research interests and academic track records of this year’s BritGrad committee, you can read more here.



Post-Conference Wrap Up

Thank you all for attending BritGrad 2016! What an amazing three days full of stimulating conversations, inspiring perspectives, and new connections (and, we hope, friendships). We heard papers on nicknames, philosophy, translation, adaptation, Star Wars, rhetoric and linguistics, Dekker, Jonson, gesture, queer theory, theatre practice, stage design, witches, and a great deal more. The caliber of both the papers presented and the questions asked in each panel were really excellent – we hope you enjoyed them as much as we did!

In case you weren’t able to join us, we’ve made a Storify story with a selection of the live-tweets from the conference. If that’s not enough for you (it wasn’t nearly enough for us) and you want a taste of the whole event, head over to our Twitter page, where you’ll be able to see more on student panels and plenary lectures. You can also find photo albums of each day of the conference (plus the party!) on our Facebook page.

Before you get too involved with tweets and photos, here’s a small sampling of #britgrad2016 by the numbers:

Innumerable tweets posted using the conference hashtag

33 Photos tweeted using the conference hashtag

24 Student panels

18 Photos taken by a BritGrad committee member of attendees enjoying our roving selfie booth

12 Carafes each of coffee and tea (which we think shows admirable restraint)

10 Boxes of macaroons for dessert on Day 1

8 Plenary speakers

4 Travel bursaries awarded by the Lizz Ketterer Trust

2 Video presentations

And your 10 committee members are pleased to announce that they’re almost 100% recovered.

Again, thanks for helping to make the Eighteenth BritGrad conference a smashing success – here’s to #britgrad2017!

Welcome to #britgrad2016!

The week we’ve all been waiting for is finally here, and we are very much looking forward to meeting each and every one of you!

With that in mind, the official British Graduate Shakespeare Conference Committee would like to cordially invite you for an informal welcome drink at our local hostelry, The Dirty Duck. From 6pm on Wednesday 1st June we have reserved a small seated area of the pub, on the right-hand side as you enter. We hope that as many of you as possible can make it!


The Duck, as it is called by most locals, can be found on Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BA, just along from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is within walking distance of most accommodation, and hosts a variety of affordable food and drink options to suit most tastes. Not only is it one of our favourite locals, but it’s also the hangout for many an RSC actor – keep your eyes peeled for Hamlet!

Just in case you need a hand getting there, here’s a map: