Dr Sophie Duncan

Career Development Fellow and Tutor in English


BA (Hons) English Language and Literature (Oxford, 2008); MSt English 1780–1900 (Oxford, 2009); DPhil (Oxford, 2013).

Academic Background

I took my BA and MSt at Oriel College, Oxford, and my DPhil at Brasenose, Oxford. After completing my DPhil I spent time as a lecturer at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, and was Supernumerary Fellow in English at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. Before taking up my Fellowship at Christ Church in October 2018, I spent four years as Calleva Postdoctoral Research Associate at Magdalen College, where I was also Junior Dean of Arts. I have guest-taught at King’s College London and the Globe Theatre, and have had a Visiting Fellowship at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice.

I work regularly as an historical consultant and rehearsal-room advisor for television, radio, and theatre.

Undergraduate Teaching

At Christ Church, I currently teach Finals papers on Shakespeare, English Literature 1550–1660 and English Literature 1660–1760. On occasion, I also teach English Literature 1760–1830, and supervise work on drama from 1550 to the present day. For Prelims, I lecture on drama and prose from 1830 onwards.

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in Shakespeare in performance, and in the performance of race, gender, and sexuality between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries. My first book, Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siècle was published by Oxford University Press in 2016, and looks at iconoclastic performances of Shakespeare’s heroines in fin-de-siècle Victorian culture, from Jack the Ripper to the suffragettes. My most recent book, Shakespeare’s Props: Memory and Cognition (Routledge, 2019) looks at the stage lives and afterlives of objects in Shakespeare’s plays, to tell us how actors, technicians and audiences think through and about props, and what this tells us about Early Modern understandings of the brain.


My books include Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siècle (Oxford University Press, 2016), Women and Power: The Struggle for Suffrage, co-written with Rachel Lennon (National Trust Books, 2018), and Shakespeare’s Props: Memory and Cognition (Routledge, 2019). My new edition of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House will be published by Bloomsbury in 2020.

Books chapters include ‘Black Masculinity and the Black Voice: Casting and Canonicity in the National Theatre Gala’, in Tiziana Morosetti (ed.), Africa on the Contemporary London Stage (Palgrave), 129–46 and ‘A Progressive Othello: Modern Blackness in Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet (2012)’ in Tiziana Morosetti (ed.), Staging the Other in Nineteenth-Century British Drama (Oxford: Peter Lang), 227–54. Forthcoming articles include work on Judi Dench’s recent Shakespeare performances for Persona Studies and on Jack the Ripper for Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film. I have also published articles on Ellen Terry’s 1896 Imogen and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (for Feminist Theory) and on the early manuscript history of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan (for BLR). With the Calleva Centre, I also co-authored a number of articles on cognitive approaches to drama, including: ‘Emotional arousal when watching drama increases pain threshold and social bonding’, Royal Society Open Science (2016) 213.9; ‘Cognition, Endorphins and the Literary Response to Tragedy’, Cambridge Quarterly 46.3 (2017), 229–50; and ‘Individual Differences in Transportation into Narrative Drama’, Review of General Psychology 22.2 (2018), 210–19.


Going to the theatre, reading, writing, and travelling.