Professor Jennifer Richards
Professor of Early Modern Literature & Culture


I completed my first degree (1st class, BA honours) in English Literature at the University of London in 1987. After two years in Poland, teaching English at the University of Silesia, Gliwice from 1988, and the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, from 1989 until 1990, I returned to the UK to take up British Academy funding to write a PhD thesis on Rhetoric and sixteenth-century writing at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1995.  


I was Head of School from 2007 until 2012.

I am currently on research leave, 2013-2015 (Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship). 

I start a new role as the Chair of English Association Higher Education Committee in January 2015, and I have recently joined Newcastle University Promotions Committee. 

External Roles

Editor of Renaissance Studies, and a member of Council for the Society of Renaissance Studies (2012-2017).  

Member of the AHRC Advisory Board (2012-2015)

Chair of AHRC Strategic Theme Advisory Group, 'Care for the Future'.

Chair of the AHRC's Research Careers and Training Advisory Group (RCTAG)  

Chair of English Association Higher Education Committee (2015-18). 

I am external examiner for English Literature at Oxford University. 



I have broad interests in early modern culture and literature, including the works of Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton, but I specialise on the writers of the mid to late sixteenth century. I work across several fields: the history of ideas (and political thought), the history of reading, the history of rhetoric and the medical humanities. 

Current Projects

I am writing a new monograph, 'Shared Reading in the English Renaissance'. This book has two aims: first, to explore the evidence we might use to recover the history of reading aloud; second, to explore how this evidence affects the histories we tell about Renaissance books and their readers/hearers and also how we  might read and interpret Renaissance texts. Topics I am researching include: the 'sound' of print; the role of the voice in humanist education; the lost faculty of rhetoric, pronuntiatio; 'oral history' in the Renaissance; the relationship of prose to drama (especially for Thomas Nashe). This project is supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2013-15). With Professor Richard Wistreich, Royal College of Music, London, I lead the AHRC-funded Research Network 'Voices and Books in Early Modern England, 1500-1800' (2014-2015).

The Voices and Books Network is hosting a Conference in Newcastle July 16th-18th 2015.

I am an associate editor of the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press) with Sarah Atkinson and Jane Macnaughton of the Centre for Medical Humanities at the University of Durham. The general editors are Anne Whitehead (Newcastle) and Angela Woods (Durham).

With Joe Black (Massachusetts), Andrew Hadfield (Sussex) and Cathy Shrank (Sheffield) I will be editing 'A New Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Thomas Nashe' in 6 volumes for Oxford University Press. We start this project in September 2015.  Listen to the podcasts of a recent Tudor Editing Workshop hosted at Newcastle University. For updates on The Thomas Nashe Project please visit our website.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome research proposals from students interested in any aspect of early modern reading and writing.

Current postgraduate students include:  (with Cathrine Degnan, GPS) Jane Nolan, (with Kate Chedgzoy) Thongrob Ruenbanthoeng; with (Mike Pincombe) Zhen Gong. 

My past PhD students include: Peter Adegbie; Grace Jones (AHRC); Jessica Jung (AHRC); Robin Kirschbaum; Lorraine McNeill, Fahimeh Naseri.  

Esteem Indicators

Editor of 'Renaissance Studies', 2012-2017

Council Member, Renaissance Society, 2012-2017

Member of the AHRC Advisory Board, 2012-2015.

Chair of the AHRC Advisory Group for the 'Care for the Future' strategic theme.

Member of the Review Group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for English (2014) 

Member of English Association Higher Education Committee (2013-16). 

I am a Fellow of the English Association. I was a CRASSH Fellow, University of Cambridge, 2006 


I spoke about 'Rhetoric' and John Hart, the Tudor spelling reformer on Fry's English Delight, Radio 4 (August 26th 2013 and September 2nd 2013). I was interviewed by Elizabeth Day for her article on 'Storytelling: how reading aloud is back in fashion', which was published in the Observer, 6th January, 2013.  

I chaired Michael Rosen at the London School of Economics Literary Festival in March 2014 and David Crystal at the same Festival in February 2015. 


PI for the AHRC Research Network (2014-15) 'Voices and Books in Early Modern England, 1500-1800'.  

Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2013-15) for 'Useful Books: Reading and Talking in the English Renaissance'.

PI for British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (2012-13) for 21st-Century Oxford Authors: Thomas Nashe.

WellcomeTrust Small Research Grant (2012-13), for a research project on the reading aloud of Thomas Raynalde's The Woman's Book (1545). 

Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2009) for 'Diet, Dialogue and the Early Modern Body Politic'.

British Academy Small Research Grant (2007) for 'Reading the Medical Regimens'.