School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Jennifer Richards

Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature



I completed my first degree in English Literature at Queen Mary College, 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.  

Internal Roles

Director of NUHRI (Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute)

Newcastle University Promotions Committee. 

External Roles

Chair of English Association Higher Education Committee (2015-2020). 

Member of the AHRC's Advisory Board (2017-2020)

Editor of Renaissance Studies, and a member of Council for the Society of Renaissance Studies (2012-2020).  




I have broad interests in early modern literature and culture, but I specialise on the writers of the mid to late sixteenth century, especially Anne Askew, William Baldwin, Thomas Nashe, Gabriel Harvey and Shakespeare. I work across several fields: the history of ideas (and political thought), the history of reading, the history of rhetoric and the medical humanities.

My current work is focussed on the history of reading aloud, scholarly editing and performance, and the interface between digital technologies and textual studies.

Main Projects

I have three main projects, all of which are interlinked through the topic of orality/vocality. I also work in the medical humanities.

I. The Thomas Nashe Project

I am one of the four General Editors of 'A New Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Thomas Nashe' (6 volumes; contracted with Oxford University Press, 2021) along with Joe Black (Massachusetts), Andrew Hadfield (Sussex) and Cathy Shrank (Sheffield), and I am the lead of 'The Thomas Nashe Project' (awarded an AHRC Research Grant, 2015-20), working closely with Kate De Rycker and Rachel White. For updates on 'The Thomas Nashe Project' please visit our website.

II.  Animating Texts at Newcastle University (AtNU) 

With Professor Michael Rossington (English Literature), Professor Magnus Williamson (Music), and Professor Paul Watson of the Digital Institute, I have been awarded a grant of £476,132 by Newcastle University to develop a new field of study, Digital Technology and the Humanities, to support scholarly editing projects like 'The Thomas Nashe Project'. This project is being developed with James Cummings and Tiago Sousa Garcia, both colleagues in the School.

Over three years the ATNU team will be exploring how the digital can complement rather than replace the print edition, exploring different ways of understanding, explaining, and experiencing text as mobile, variable, adaptable, performable, while also helping us to re-imagine the reading experience 

III. Voices and Books

I was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2013-15) for my new book project: Voices and Books in the English Renaissance: A New History of Reading, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2019. 

See here for an article I have just published (open access) on 'The Voice of Anne Askew' in The Journal of the Northern Renaissance.

In 2014-16 I led the AHRC Research Network 'Voices and Books in Early Modern England, 1500-1800' with Professor Richard Wistreich, Royal College of Music, London, along with Matthew Grenby, Arnold Hunt, Elspeth Jajdelska, Bob Owens, Abigail Williams.

In 2014-15 I ran a pilot oral histories project on reading experiences in the North East with Sue Bradley and Dr Emma Short. Listen here for the results.

IV. Critical Medical Humanities

I was 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). 

I have also published on the oral reading of midwifery books.

Postgraduate Supervision

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

Current Postgraduate Research Students include:  with Kate Chedgzoy, Thongrob Ruenbanthoeng, and Elizabeth Anderson; with Ruth Connolly, Becka Crawshaw (AHRC); with Cathrine Degnan, GPS, Jane Nolan; with James Harriman Smith, Zhen Gong; with Karen Corrigan, Emily Rowe (AHRC) . 

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

Esteem Indicators

Chair of English Association Higher Education Committee (2015-2020) 

Member of the Review Group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for English, 2014 

Chair of the AHRC Advisory Group for the 'Care for the Future' strategic theme (2012-2015).

Member of the AHRC Advisory Board (2012-15), (2017-2020).

Chair of the AHRC Research Careers and Training Advisory Group (2011-2016)

Council Member, Renaissance Society (2012-2020)

External Examining

External examiner for English Literature: Durham University (2011-2013) and at Oxford University (2014-16). 

Editorial roles

Editor of 'Renaissance Studies' (2012-2020)

General Editor with Professor Claire Jowitt of the English Association's Monograph Series

Member of the editorial board for SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature (2016-2019)



CRASSH Research Fellowship, Cambridge University, 2006

Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities, University of Austin, Texas, US,  2017

Huntington Library Fellowship, Pasadena, California, US, 2018


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 also spoke on the topic of The University Wits for 'Scenes from Student Life, The Wits', Radio 4 (April 20th, 2016).

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. 


Co-lead with Michael Rossington, Magnus Williamson and Paul Watson of 'Animating Text at Newcastle University' (AtNU), an award from Newcastle University's Research Investment Fund (2016-2020)

PI for AHRC Research Grant (2015-20) 'The Thomas Nashe Project'

PI for AHRC Research Network Grant (2014-15) 'Voices and Books 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.

Wellcome Trust 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'.



In 2018-19:

Writing the Renaissance (stage 2 module)

MA in English Literature (Research Methods)

MLitt and PhD supervision