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Juliana Beykirch

Research project title

Performing ‘Monstrosity’ on the British Stage, 1630-1740


Dr James Harriman-Smith, Prof Kate Chedgzoy and Prof Clark Lawlor (Northumbria)

Contact details


Research interests

  • 17th and 18th-century British drama
  • dramatic representations of 'monstrosity'
  • intersections of 'monstrosity', disability, race and gender
  • generic change
  • female playwrights of the restoration and the early 18th century
black and white photograph of hands

A brief outline of my research project

Tracing performances of ‘monstrosity’ in diverse dramatic forms, my project explores stage ‘monsters’ and the extraordinarily embodied performers portraying them. By demonstrating that stage ‘monsters’ frequently transcend their status as signs to be read by talking back, I ask whether performing ‘monstrosity’ enabled extraordinarily embodied performers to exercise agency.

I explore the role ‘monsters’ and ‘monstrous’ performers like Charles I’s court dwarf Jeffrey Hudson played in court masques like Davenant and Jones’ Britannia Triumphans (1637) and interrogate how extraordinary embodiment and foreignness intersected when Continental European actors like the ‘Swedish giant’ Daniel Cajanus portrayed humanoid and animalistic ‘monsters’ in burlesque (The Dragon of Wantley, 1737), pantomime (Cupid and Psyche, 1734) and farce (The British Stage, or The Exploits of Harlequin, 1724). I ask whether ‘monstrosity’ is shaped by genre and whether specific depictions of ‘monsters’ function as indicators of generic innovation or political change by examining representations of ‘monstrous’ femininity in Restoration comedies, including Behn’s The Second Part of The Rover (1681).

My project proposes a novel theoretical framework describing the theatrical processes through which creators and performers imbued stage ‘monsters’ with meaning and explores ways in which audiences experienced, interacted with and related to staged portrayals of ‘monstrosity’.

Research activities

In 2017, I was awarded an Erasmus scholarship that enabled me to study at Newcastle University as an exchange student. I achieved a Distinction in my Research Masters (MLitt) at Newcastle, which was funded by the School of English's Postgraduate Scholarship Award. My research projects, which examined the works of female dramatists of the Restoration and early eighteenth century, included:

  • Aphra Behn’s The False Count and Anti-She-Tragedy
  • The Monstrous Woman in Aphra Behn’s The Second Part of The Rover (1681)
  • “[D]oubly press'd, by Love and Friendship”: Male Homosociality and the Early Modern Female Playwright

My MLitt dissertation was the runner-up for the Gender Research Group Master Dissertation Prize. My PhD project is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Northern Bridge Studentship.


  • July 2020 – York Cabinet of Curiosities Interrupted Ideas Virtual Colloquium
  • November 2020 – Northern Early Modern Network Graduate Conference

My academic background

  • BA English Studies, Leipzig University
  • BA Cultural Studies, Leipzig University
  • MLitt English Literature, Newcastle University