School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr Emma Whipday



I am Lecturer in Renaissance Literature, and also the English and Classics Rep, working with students on the joint BA in Classical Studies and English (QQ83).

I recently completed a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, researching brother-sister relationships on the early modern stage. I work on early modern drama, focusing on genre, theatricality, 'practice as research', familial and service relationships, and domestic and sexual violence (for more information, see the 'Research' tab).

After growing up in the North East, I moved to Nottinghamshire, where I was educated at my local comprehensive: the Minster School in Southwell. I studied English Language and Literature at Oxford as an undergraduate, before studying for an MA in 'English: Shakespeare in History', and a PhD on Shakespeare and domestic tragedy, at UCL. I have taught at Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, King's College London, UCL, and Brasenose College, Oxford. I began my Leverhulme fellowship at UCL, before taking up my position as Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at Newcastle.


Research Interests

I am interested in family, gender, and power on the early modern stage, and in early modern culture more broadly. My research focuses on the political significance of household dynamics; the generic expectations that shape texts; and the interplay between performers, playing spaces and audiences on the early modern stage and street. I have published on early modern 'true crime' news pamphlets, staging the home in domestic tragedy, household work in Macbeth and Othello, recent productions of early modern plays, and performance practice as research. My monograph Shakespeare's Domestic Tragedies, which explores domestic violence in Shakespeare's plays, domestic tragedies, and early modern popular culture, is published by Cambridge University Press (2019), and is co-winner of the Shakespeare's Globe Book Award 2020.

Current Work

My current book project, Subordinate Roles, explores the cultural importance of the brother-sister relationship, and how this relationship intersects with issues of patriarchal power, female agency, domestic authority, and the place of the unmarried woman in early modern society. It investigates the ways in which the drama of the period interrogates the familial, social, and political implications of the brother-sister bond, which is barely mentioned in the conduct literature, but is obsessively represented onstage.

I am also working on an ongoing project on the role of 'practice as research' as an approach to early modern drama, which involves collaborating with external organisations and creative practitioners to explore the possibilities of staging neglected early modern plays, and using 'verbatim theatre' techniques to investigate 'lost' plays, voices, and experiences. This project also builds on, and informs, my creative work as a playwright.

Performance Research Network

Supported by a Pioneers award from Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute and Newcastle University Institute for Creative Arts Practice, I co-run the 'Performance Research Network' with Ruth Raynor (Urban Planning). This is an interdisciplinary group drawing together thinkers and doers from across Newcastle University: we research performance; conduct research through performance; and research to create performance. You can read more here:


My book Shakespeare's Domestic Tragedies is co-winner of the Shakespeare's Globe Book Award 2020.

My project on brother-sister relationships on the early modern stage was funded by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

My play The Defamation of Cicely Lee is a 2019 winner of the American Shakespeare Center's 'Shakespeare's New Contemporaries' award, and will be staged at the ASC's Blackfriars Playhouse in May 2020.

I received an award from the UCL Dean's Fund to direct a staged reading of Paradise Lost, adapted by Dr Eric Langley and co-directed with Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for Shakespeare's Glob in May 2018.

My play Shakespeare's Sister (Samuel French, 2016), which draws on my research on early modern family dynamics, won the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass 'Pitch Your Play' Award 2015.

I was nominated for a King's Teaching Award at King's College London (2015-2016), and I am an Associate Fellow of the HEA.


In 2020-21, I am teaching on:

Women on Trial: Gender, Power and Performance in Early Modern England (semester 1; stage 3)

Renaissance Bodies (semester 2; stage 2)

Independent Research Project Portfolio (semester 2; stage 2)

Introduction to Literary Studies 2 (semester 2; stage 1)

I am also supervising BA and MA dissertation students, and Stage 2 independent projects, in English Literature and in Classics and English.