Drama and Creative Writing

Postgraduate Student Profiles

Drama and Creative Writing has a dynamic postgraduate research community. Our postgraduate students are involved in a wide range of innovative research, from the production and study of performance, to creative writing, including novels, short stories and poems.

A dynamic postgraduate research community


James Aitcheson

James Aitcheson

Dissertation Topic: Writing the Middle Ages: the boundaries of historical fiction

My thesis consists of two parts: a fantastic-historical novel, set during the Middle Ages; and a critical commentary on the process of writing it and its context within the genre of historical fiction.

The novel, which is set during the eleventh century at an unidentified monastery in England, makes use of various fantastic devices (e.g. miracles, portents, ghosts, dream-visions) and stylistic effects to test the boundaries of historical fiction. The critical commentary, meanwhile, examines what historical fiction in the twenty-first century is, how it works, how it is constructed, its objectives and responsibilities, and its possible future directions. My project is supervised by Dr Spencer Jordan and Dr Christina Lee, and is supported by an AHRC-funded studentship from the Midlands3Cities DTP.

A professional novelist since 2010, I am the author of four novels set during the Norman Conquest, which are published in the UK, the US, Germany and the Czech Republic. My most recent novel, The Harrowing, was published by Quercus in 2016 and named by The Times as a Book of the Month. I previously studied History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (2003–6), where I specialised in the Middle Ages. I then undertook my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University (2007–8), where I developed the concept for what became my first published novel, Sworn Sword.


Me May 2021 full length

Elizabeth Alblas

Dissertation topic: Women of World Mythology and Folklore: A Poetic Re-imagining of Cultural Stories and Figures

The main focus of my research lies in uncovering stories concerning female figures from world mythology and folklore throughout history. I subsequently explore and interpret their stories through poetics to create an accessible poetry collection that I aim to publish. This will be accompanied by a series of critical essays that investigates how contemporary authors have interrogated myths and folk tales to convey female experiences, from exploring concerns regarding the female body through to examining the spaces female figures have inhabited. My work, both creative and critical, seeks to explore how mythology and folklore can be utilised to present a variety of female experiences and to examine how women have been situated within cultural texts throughout time.

This builds upon my dissertation from my MA in Creative Writing, where I created eight poems around lesser known women from history, and explored how experimental poetic forms could convey female experiences as a way of challenging the traditional structural and formal aspects of a male-dominated literary canon.

The project is supervised by Dr Lila Matsumoto and Dr Bridget Vincent, and is supported by a School of English research scholarship. Outside of my PhD, I have been published in Laced, the University of Nottingham’s first anthology showcasing the creative writing of postgraduates, and in the online magazines One Hand Clapping and Dear Damsels. I also write the blog The Thing With Feathers

Andrea Bowd
Andrea Bowd

Dissertation Topic: Poetic Representations of the Eerie related to the Landscape of South Nottinghamshire.

I am a third-year, part-time PhD student of Creative Writing. My supervisors who provide invaluable support, are: Dr Lila Matsumoto, Dr Spencer Jordan and Dr Lynda Pratt.

A large part of my research involves uncovering and discussing some of the supernatural qualities of this particular landscape. I was born in this area, and have deep family ties, dating back to the 1600s. The area is rich in ethereal occurrences, myths and local traditions. I present, through poetry, some of these phenomena alongside a critical component which is presented in chapters.

Amy Bromilow

Amy Bromilow

Dissertation Topic: Shakespeare and discourses of relevance: Education, Policy, Text, and Performance

I have a BA and MA in English Studies from the University of Nottingham, where I came to focus my interests upon Shakespeare, literary history and adaptation, and sociolinguistics. Both my dissertations concerned applying techniques used in sociolinguistics to analyse gender identities across adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew, respectively.

My current research is an investigation into how Shakespeare is talked about as being 'relevant' by individuals and institutions. 'Relevant' is a highly ideologically loaded term that, I argue, is misunderstood and misused (sometimes deliberately) due to lack of theorisation around it. I am using a methodology derived from Critical Discourse Analysis to assess the ideological motivations behind and implications of such discourse across a variety of fields. I aim to theorize new ways of talking about and 'making' Shakespeare relevant on stage and screen and in the classroom, providing analysis of performances staged during the timespan of my research utilising this new and informed way of thinking.

This research is funded by the Midlands Four Cities Doctoral Training Partnership and supervised by Peter Kirwan and Jeremy Bloomfield (The University of Nottingham) and Stuart Hampton-Reeves (The University of Warwick).

Research Interests

  • ​Shakespeare in text and on the stage and screen

  • Adaptation and popular culture

  • The history of the book and literary histories

  • Sociolinguistics, specifically the language and ideologies of identity construction

Conference papers

'"Peace! I will stop your mouth!": A feminist exploration of language and gender in adaptations and appropriations of Much Ado About Nothing', The English Showcase, Wednesday 10 April 2019, The University of Nottingham

'A sociolinguistic analysis of homosocial relations in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew', The Twenty First Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference​, Friday 7 June 2019, The Shakespeare Institute


Laura Di Simoni

Dissertation Topic: Stage VS Page: Outsiders and Closed Community in Contemporary British Dystopian Theatre

My research looks at how dystopian narratives are represented in contemporary British theatre. Dystopian novels use detailed, non-oral description to explore the implied flaws of their imagined societies. By contrast, dramatic dystopias use spoken language, stage settings, and performance techniques to achieve similar but qualitatively different analytical effects. My research wants to account for these differences and give dystopian drama its place in scholarly criticism. I am interested in contemporary texts and performances from the 1990s up to the present day which reflect on border demarcations, and which depict self-contained communities and their relations with the outsiders trying to enter them. Some of the playwrights I am looking at are Philip Ridley, Caryl Churchill and Edward Bond.

I was awarded my MA degree in English and American Studies at the University of Nottingham in 2016. I am now supervised by Dr Gordon Ramsay and Dr Nathan Waddell. Outside my research, I have been involved with the Postgraduate New Theatre since I moved to Nottingham. I have acted in several plays and made my debut as a director in the last one, a production of Fin Kennedy’s How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found.

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Nicky Grace

Dissertation Topic: Being with woman: a creative-critical exploration of midwifery identity and aspects of the mother/midwife relationship.

Research Summary

Midwifery memoir as a genre contributes to cultural ideas and narratives of what it means to be a midwife. Midwifery memoirs also inevitably reflect on aspects of birth and motherhood. Through writing my memoir I aim to reflect on themes including my motivations for becoming a midwife; the challenges and rewards of being a midwife over 22 years; the midwife/mother relationship and meanings of birth and motherhood.

The critical component of my thesis draws on feminist literary and critical theory, as well as midwifery theory and practice. In addition to critically examining my own memoir, I explore contemporary and historical accounts which inform cultural narratives of the meanings of midwifery and birth.

Research Interests

I have a broad range of research interests which include writing by and about midwives; writing about childbirth and health; maternity history; women’s oppression and resistance. I am a member of the Nottingham Health Humanities Research group.

 In my former career as a midwife I attended many home births, and I worked on clinical research into diverse subjects including induction of labour for older mothers and delayed cord clamping for premature babies. I still run the Nottingham Home Birth Group and I am currently a Trial Steering Group member for the NIHR funded GBS3 trial run by the University of Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit. This is a "landmark clinical trial ... aiming to improve the prevention of potentially life-threatening infection caused by group B Streptococcus in newborn babies in the UK." https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/group-b-strep-screening-trial.

Research Supervisors

Lila MatsumotoThomas LegendrePhoebe Pallotti


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Amanda Kale

Dissertation Topic: Child Narration in Memoirs

My dissertation, yet in its early stages, will consist of sustained research on narrative interest and voice in memoir that will coincide with its practical application within my own memoir.

The creative work will consist of a majority of said novel, under the working title "Landslide": a memoir of my matriculated upbringing and unstable familial structure across the United States, from roughly five to eighteen years old. Unlike the majority of memoirs written today, my novel will be solely narrated through the perspective of myself as a child in the present tense, over that of a retrospective adult.

Therefore, my critical examination intends to highlight this unique author choice: I plan to explore the role of stylistics and narratology in memoir, and currently hypothesize that it stems from child narration adding a more intimate level of authenticity, allows its readership to trust the narrator more readily. In doing so, it becomes the most effective choice for a memoirist, as it aligns with the argued aim of a memoir: to establish and entertain authenticity through one's emotional (rather factual) truth. My essay will touch on such arguments that narrow in on the nature of narrative retrospection and ulterior motives, distinguishing the two narrators through a discussion of factual vs. emotional truth, authenticity in narrative portrayal and memory, and a sustained analysis of unreliable narration.

This project is supervised by Thomas Legendre, Dr. Violeta Sotirova, and Jon McGregor. I received my Master's (awarded with Distinction) in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh in 2019, where my current dissertation stems from. Likewise, I earned my BA's in English Language & Literature and Theatre from Washington College in 2015. I have been a lecturer for many years, currently teaching literature at Rochester University as well as tutoring for The Brilliant Club. 

Patrick Landy

Dissertation Topic: Hybrid Forms: The Function of Mathematics in Oulipian Poetry

My research examines the effects of mathematical constraint on form, structure and imagery in works of Oulipian poetry that are governed by a conceptual form of constraint. Given the 'transportability of constraint-based creativity', as Jan Baetens and Jean-Jacques Poucel put it, Oulipian poetry encompasses not only that which has been written under constraint by members of the Oulipo, but also work produced by writers outside of the group who have adhered to its principles. The representation of mathematics in both subsets of Oulipian poetry will therefore be evaluated in my thesis.

While recent publications such as Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito's The End of Oulipo?: An Attempt to Exhaust a Movement (2013) have questioned whether Oulipian methods of literary composition have run their course in terms of innovation, my thesis will reconsider the technical inventiveness present in Oulipian poetry following 'the group's staggeringly successful run through the 1960s and 1970s.' This in itself requires an assessment of whether more innovative mathematical constraints have been created by the Oulipo or by those outside it since the group's early period, which I intend to achieve by aligning Jacques Roubaud and Raymond Queneau with poets like Inger Christensen, whose poem alphabet (1981) bears mathematical and linguistic constraints that are similar to those present in the work of the Oulipo.

The creative element of my thesis is a collection of poetry governed by a strict mathematical constraint of my own devising.

My research is supervised by Matthew Welton(University of Nottingham) and Dr Emma Wagstaff (University of Birmingham). 

Stephanie Limb

Stephanie Limb

Dissertation Topic: The Monstrous Mother

​My project questions and explores Western culture's philosophical, psychoanalytical and literary depictions of motherhood. It is a blended creative-critical research project consisting of a hybrid mixture of poetry, literary criticism, dialogue, and biography. My writing is not restricted to conventional academic prose, allowing form to play an active part in the development of content. 

My work plays in the border between the lyric and the essay, exploring the physical and psychological changes produced by childbearing and childrearing. 'Demonstrate' and 'monster' derive from the same Latin root and throughout the project I aim to demonstrate rather than explain.​ Not only exploring the ambivalence of motherhood, this project is a reclamation of monstrosity.

​I previously studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick (2000-2003). I gained a PGCE from the University of Nottingham in 2004 and worked as a secondary school English teacher for several years. I completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham in 2018. My writing has appeared in Stand, Structo, Litro, The Moth and other publications. My book of lyric essays: My Coleridge – on Sara Coleridge and motherhood – is published by Broken Sleep (October 2020).

 Recent Graduates


Matilda Branson 

Dissertation Topic: Re-imagining the Rural Tour

My PhD was an AHRC funded collaboration with New Perspectives Theatre Company. My research looked at the UK rural touring sector as an area of theatre practice which has been overlooked academically, with a particular focus on rural audiences; places of performances; and the rural touring distribution model, which relies on a network of rural touring schemes and thousands of volunteer promoters. My research also looked at the possibility of more formally innovative work for this sector, and through the collaboration with New Perspectives I was able to make and trial two pilot pieces of work for rural audiences: Something Blue which was an interactive show set at a wedding take place in the village hall; and Homing, a performance which took the entire village as its setting and included a walk around the village accompanied by both audio recordings and live actors.

I previously completed a Research Masters at the University of Nottingham - both this and my PhD were under the supervision of Dr Jo Robinson and Dr Gordon Ramsay. Outside of my research I am a director, dramaturg and theatre-maker, with a particular interest in women's voices and new writing. More information about my directing work is available at www.tillybranson.com.

Steven Justice

Steven Justice 

Dissertation Topic: Using Literary Linguistics in the Creation of Fiction

My PhD in Creative Writing was supervised by Dr Spencer Jordan and Professor Peter Stockwell. My research consisted of a creative component and a critical component. In the creative component I explored themes of escapism, depression, fear of change, and loss of control using magical realism to represent emotional and psychological distress. In the critical component I analysed how effectively literary linguistic frameworks can be used in the creation of literature to achieve the creative goals, reduce distance between the author and reader, and increase emotional impact.  

I did my undergraduate Masters at St Andrews University before moving to South Korea, where I worked for over ten years mostly at universities as a lecturer of English language and literature. During my time in Korea I completed a postgraduate Masters in Literary Linguistics from the University of Nottingham before moving here in 2017 to begin my PhD studies full-time.

aexacva Amy Van Kesteren

Amy Van Kesteren 

Dissertation Topic: The Midnight Zone: A creative exploration and a critical analysis of the Gothic

My Creative Writing PhD was supervised by Thomas Legendre and Dr Spencer Jordan. My research involved a creative exploration and a critical analysis of Gothic fiction.

With fears situated within or outside the laws of nature, and the terror of threats, either real or imagined, Gothic fiction aims to excite rather than inform, to repulse rather than relate, drawing the reader into fantastical, sometimes supernatural, events that disturb and disrupt all norms and limits. Gothic fiction feeds these uncultivated emotional responses through the repeating and reworking of a restricted set of devices. It was through the beginnings of my novel that I began to recognise and identify how the tropes of Gothic fiction have been manipulated since their inception in the eighteenth century. I created a Gothic novel that explores the concepts of haunting by excessive negative emotion, the uncanny house, the unreliable narrator, temporal disruption and transgression. My critical analysis discussed the ways in which Gothic fiction exists today only through the echoing and manipulation of these five tropes, emerging in the twenty first century a creature who walks in Walpole’s shadow – revised and rewritten – but still with the whispers of the eighteenth century tale of terror.

I studied Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham since 2012, receiving a BA(hons) in English with Creative Writing, as well as an MA in Creative Writing. The MA provided me with the tools and inspiration to continue with postgraduate education and to specialise in Gothic fiction. I volunteered at the Lakeside Literary Project since 2015, where I worked with children from local schools to create Creative Writing influenced by artwork.

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Drama and Creative Writing

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