School of English

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Anna Blackwell

Assistant Professor in Drama, Faculty of Arts

Contact

Biography

I joined the University of Nottingham in September 2022 after working previously at De Montfort University. I completed my PhD at DMU in 2014 and after also undertaking a postdoctoral position on the Andrew Davies Archive (2015-16), I became a permanent member of the English Literature department in 2017. While there I taught across the undergraduate and postgraduate English programme, acted as the Institute Head of Research Students (2018-21) and served as Programme Leader (2020-22). I received a Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2022 for my work at DMU.

Expertise Summary

I have published widely on the contemporary Shakespearean actor and popular cultural or multimedia adaptations of Shakespeare. My research is alert to the power of the star performer in performing, adapting and defining Shakespeare via classed or gendered qualities, as well as the complex, often appropriative dynamics when Shakespeare and the 'Shakespearean' is adapted into digital native forms such as memes or GIFs.

(Full list of publications to come)

PhD supervision

I welcome PhD applications across adaptation studies, Shakespeare, early modern drama and popular/digital culture. Please email if you would like to discuss a potential topic or application. I have four years of experience supervising PhDs on topics including: transmedia adaptation and video games, and literary adaptations of The Odyssey.

Teaching Summary

My teaching draws on my research interests in early modern drama, Shakespeare, adaptation and performance. I teach students at all levels, from first-year undergraduate to postgraduate. I currently… read more

Research Summary

Aside from my interest in Shakespeare, I am currently co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Transforming Middlemarch: A Genetic Edition of Andrew Davies' 1994 BBC Adaptation of George Eliot's… read more

Markers of esteem

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Winner of a Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, De Montfort University (2022)
  • Nominated for Most Adaptable/Innovative Lecturer at the Art Design and Humanities Research and Teaching Awards, De Montfort University (2021)
  • Winning entry for the 2014 Adaptation Essay Prize: 'Adapting Coriolanus: Tom Hiddleston's Body and Action Cinema', Adaptation, Vol. 7, Issue 3 (Summer 2014), 344-52

Research-related service

  • Treasurer and Trustee of the Association of Adaptation Studies (2019-)
  • Membership Secretary of the Association of Adaptation Studies (2012-17)
  • Reviewer for journals: Adaptation, Early Modern Literary Studies, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, Participations: International Journal of Audience Research, Shakespeare and Shakespeare Bulletin.

Public Engagement

  • 'Transforming Middlemarch' talk and workshop at the George Eliot Fellowship Weekend, Chilvers Coton Craft Centre, Nuneaton, 30 April 2022
  • Guest introduction for screenings at the Phoenix Cinema, Leicester, including Murder on the Orient Express (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2017) and All is True (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2019)
  • Invited guest speaker for Filming Shakespeare, Annual Shakespeare Short Film Competition, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, August 2017
  • Chair of public 'In Conversation' with Andrew Davies, De Montfort University, March 2017
  • Co-curator of pop-up exhibition on the life and work of Andrew Davies for the Heritage Centre Museum, De Montfort University, March-April 2017

My teaching draws on my research interests in early modern drama, Shakespeare, adaptation and performance. I teach students at all levels, from first-year undergraduate to postgraduate. I currently teach on the following modules:

  • Changing Stages: Theatre Industry and Theatre Art
  • Drama, Theatre and Performance
  • Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage (convenor)
  • Shakespeare's Histories: Critical Approaches (convenor)
  • Shakespeare: Text, Stage, and Screen (convenor, MA)

Current Research

Aside from my interest in Shakespeare, I am currently co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Transforming Middlemarch: A Genetic Edition of Andrew Davies' 1994 BBC Adaptation of George Eliot's Novel (January 2022-April 2023). Our aim is to produce an open access resource which can be used by heritage centres, educators and the public at large. The edition will be premiered to the public and to educational publishers at a British Library study day in December 2022.

Past Research

My first monograph, Shakespearean Celebrity in the Digital Age, was published in 2018. It examined the underlying assumptions, associations, and cachet that Shakespeare carries by focusing on Shakespearean celebrity and its role in contemporary culture. In a manner that characterises much of my work as well as my research-informed teaching, Shakespearean Celebrity discussed a variety of fields and topics which have been traditionally overlooked by both Shakespeare and adaptation studies. This includes not only medium- or genre- specific foci such as the blockbuster film but internet-native phenomenon (memes, GIFs etc.) and processes which are sometimes obscured in analysis such as advertising and digital commerce.

Other work in the area of Shakespeare, popular/digital culture and adaptation can be found in edited collections such as The Routledge Companion to Adaptation, Broadcast Your Shakespeare, Variable Objects or The Arden Research Handbook for Shakespeare and Adaptation, and journal articles in Adaptation, Critical Review and English Literature. These pieces share a core focus on the way that Shakespearean capital is performed in contemporary culture. For example, they variously identify the meme as a uniquely dynamic, adaptive form; interrogate the phenomenon of 'digital blackface ' in relation to Shakespeare macros (2022); examine what I term the 'intellectual loser' trope in British sitcoms like Upstart Crow (2021) or reflect on the pleasure and meaning of actor Ian McKellen's voice (2016). In 2021 I co-edited a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin on the 'Royal Body in Shakespearean Adaptations on Screen'.

Future Research

My next major project will focus on literary crafts. Often sold exclusively online by independent makers, craft adaptations of literary texts testify to an expanding realm of non-authorised adaptation activities. When viewed through material culture's defense of the value of objects, literary crafts provide insight into not only material forms of adaptation but the creativity and precarity of digital maker economies.

You can view my first effort to wrestle with this topic in relation to Shakespeare crafts on the English Literature journal website.

School of English

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