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Dr Gillian Woods

  • Overview





    Administrative responsibilities

    • Programme Director: BA English
    • Programme Director: Creative Writing and English
    • Director of BA Exam Boards (Department of English, Theatre and Creative Writing)
    • Education Committee Departmental Representative

    Professional activities

    Gill is the external examiner for BA English at Sussex University and has previously served in this capacity at the University of Roehampton.  She has examined PhDs at King's College London and the University of York.

    In the arts sector, Gill has provided research consultancy to directors working at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. She has also given numerous public lectures at Shakespeare's Globe.

    Firmly committed to widening participation in Higher Education, Gill regularly gives lectures and runs workshops and seminars at schools and sixth form colleges.  

    Honours and awards

  • Research


    Research overview

    My research concentrates on early modern drama in its cultural and historical contexts, with a particular focus on early modern stage practice, understandings of representation, post-Reformation religion, visual arts and nostalgia.  I also work as an editor and am one of three General Editors for the forthcoming Cambridge Shakespeare Editions.

    I am currently working on a Leverhulme-funded book project (Renaissance Theatricalities) that explores the mixed representational form of plays, made up of speech, dance, combat, dumb shows, entr’actes and jigs.  Considering the varying interpretive demands these different devices place on audiences, I investigate the nature of representation itself. I analyse the interrelationship between different theatrical activities and reveal the dynamic ways in which meaning is made in plays.

    In addition, I am also producing a new edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Cambridge University Press).  My edition taps into this quirky classic’s varying linguistic moods, fluid identities, theatrical instability, ecological breadth, zoological range and global perspectives.

    Both of these projects build on the new methodological questions posed by my co-edited essay collection, Stage Directions and Shakespearean Theatre (Arden, 2018). Bringing together literary critics, editors and theatre practitioners, this book explores the theatrical, imaginative and literary function of Renaissance stage directions.

    My previous work also includes  Shakespeare’s Unreformed Fictions (Oxford University Press, 2013), a book that looks at Catholicism’s imaginative hold on post-Reformation drama.  It identifies the ways Shakespeare makes literary capital out of conflicted attitudes to ‘un-Reformed’ material and analyses the interactions between ideological and theatrical fiction, and literary and theological transcendence. In 2014 this book was made joint winner of the Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award.

    I am strongly committed to improving university access and driving innovations in teaching.  These interests led me to set up and run a termly seminar series called Shakespeare Teachers’ Conversations: a forum for those involved in Shakespeare education in schools, universities and the wider arts sector.  I am also a Cambridge University Press Series Editor for Elements in Shakespeare and Pedagogy, a series which synthesises theory and practice, and publishes provocative, original pieces of research, as well as dynamic, practical engagements with learning contexts.

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I'd welcome PhD applications in the field of early modern drama, theatre and performance; literature of the Renaissance, especially centring on issues of religion and nostalgia; and Shakespeare and pedagogy.

    Please feel free to get in touch if you would like an informal discussion about your research ideas for an MPhil or PhD.

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    I teach on Birkbeck's BA English, BA Liberal Arts, MA Renaissance Studies and MA Text and Performance.

    Teaching modules

    • Tragedy (AREN157S5)
    • Shakespeare (AREN213S6)
    • Storytelling: Narrative Archetypes, Forms and Techniques (AREN256S4)
    • Working in the Middle Ages (AREN275Z7)
    • Writing the Planet (AREN292S7)
    • Writing London (ENHU007S4)
  • Publications




    Book Section