Professor Jennifer Richards
Professor of Early Modern Literature & Culture


BA Honours (University of London, 1987), PhD (Edinburgh, 1995)

(From 1988-1990 I taught English at the Univerity of Silesia, Gliwice, and the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw.) 


I was Head of School from 2007 until 2012. I am currently on research leave, 2013-2015 (Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship). 

I am a member of the following Faculty/University Committees: University Appeals Panel for Promotions Review of Academic Staff and HASS Faculty Appointment Board. 

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). 

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

I am exernal examiner for English Literature programmes at Durham University and 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'. I aim to discover who read aloud/heard books - boys and girls, women of different social ranks, servants, university students, working men and women - and what this meant for the semi-literate, civic culture of this period. I hope also to discover the various, sometimes surprising places where this took place: birthing rooms, sick rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, closets, gardens, print shops, taverns, anatomy theatres, as well as classrooms, colleges, law courts. Finally, I will explore the dissemination of habits of ‘disputation’ among a broader constituency of hearers and discussants than is usually recognized (i.e. beyond the classroom). This project is supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2013-15). With Professor Richard Wistreich, Royal Northern College of Music, I am leading an AHRC-funded Research Network 'Voices and Books in Early Modern England, 1500-1800' (2014-2015).

For related activities see 'Shared Reading' and 'Reading and Health in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800'

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. 

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. 

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.  

On March 1st 2014 I had great fun chairing the wonderful Michael Rosen at the London School of Economics Literary Festival


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'.

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'.