Drama and Creative Writing
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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: a re-evaluation of the fantastical in historical fiction

My research explores the representation of the Middle Ages in modern fiction, with a particular focus on the fantastical, supernatural and otherworldly: aspects of medieval life that are often neglected by authors today.

As a PhD in Creative Writing, my project comprises both creative and critical components. My creative work will be a historical novel that makes use of magic realist elements to explore the trauma of life under colonial rule in post-1066 England, while the critical piece will examine how the fantastical and the historical intersect in a variety of medieval texts and in recent fiction. My project is supervised by Dr Spencer Jordan and Dr Christina Lee, and is supported by an AHRC-funded studentship from the Midlands3Cities DTP.

I have been a professional novelist since 2010, and 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 latest novel, The Harrowing, was published by Quercus in 2016 and was 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 for phd profiles

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 MatsumotoDr Bridget Vincent, and Dr Judith Jesch, 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 magazine One Hand Clapping. I also write the blog The Thing With Feathers


Matilda Branson 

Dissertation Topic: Re-imagining the Rural Tour

I am currently writing up my PhD which is an AHRC funded collaboration with New Perspectives Theatre Company. My research looks 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 looks at the possibility of more formally innovative work for this sector, and through the collaboration with New Perspectives I have been 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.


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.


Steven Justice

Dissertation Topic: Using Literary Linguistics in the Creation of Fiction

I am currently in the first year of a PhD in Creative Writing under the supervision of Dr Spencer Jordan and Professor Peter Stockwell.  As I am undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing, my research consists of a creative component and a critical component. In the creative component I plan to explore themes of escapism, depression, fear of change, and loss of control using magical realism to represent emotional and psychological distress. In the critical component my intent is to analyse 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.

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).

aexacva Amy Van Kesteren

Amy Van Kesteren

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

I am in the first year of my Creative Writing PhD, under the supervision of Thomas Legendre and Dr Spencer Jordan. My research involves 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 intend to create 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 will discuss 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 have 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 have been volunteering at the Lakeside Literary Project since 2015, where I work with children from local schools to create Creative Writing influenced by artwork.


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Drama and Creative Writing

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