Drama and Creative Writing

Staff Profiles

The staff team is actively engaged in a broad range of academic disciplines and activities. Team members have written plays, novels, short stories and poems.

They are also engaged in the critical exploration of creative form and contexts. All this feeds into and enriches their teaching and supervision of students.

There is an emphasis on the practicalities of getting published in our teaching activities, from the initial writing, through to editing and publication or performance.

The team has a strong record of collaboration with regional creative and cultural partners.

Each team member has a rich variety of experience

The School of English is a partner of the annual Festival of Words, and staff have close connections with the Nottingham Playhouse, Theatre Royal, and other local theatres, as well as with the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and a number of regional publishers and writing organisations.

Teaching Associate in Creative Writing

A professional novelist since 2010, I write both literary and commercial historical fiction. My four published novels are all set during the Middle Ages. My most recent title, The Harrowing (Heron, 2016) was named by The Times as a Book of the Month. My novels have also received praise from The Mail on Sunday and BBC History Magazine, and have been published overseas in the US, Germany and the Czech Republic.

I returned to the University of Nottingham in 2022, having previously studied here for my PhD in Creative Writing, which I received in 2021. My main research focus is historical fiction: what it is; why we write it; how it is constructed; and its objectives, responsibilities and possible future directions. My other research interests include medievalism – the representation of the Middle Ages in modern culture – and early medieval aviation and astronomy.

Anna Blackwell
Assistant Professor in Drama

I joined the University of Nottingham in 2022 having previously served as Programme Leader for the BA English Literature at De Montfort University. I taught at DMU for nine years at undergraduate and postgraduate level and supervised PhD students on topics such as female-authored literary adaptations of The Odyssey and transmediality in video game adaptations.

My doctoral research, which was also completed at DMU, examined the figure of the contemporary Shakespearean actor. My thesis was adapted into my first monograph, Shakespearean Celebrity in the Digital Age: Fan Cultures and Remediation (2018), and my other early publications share the same interest in stardom, masculinity, adaptation theory and exchanges between Shakespeare and popular culture. More recent research has turned towards digital-native forms of adaptation such as memes, GIFs, fanfiction and vlogs and my next major project will explore the adaptation of literary culture into craft objects within an online marketplace. This work will see me discuss ‘bookish’ craft items as part of an adaptive material culture, but I will also examine the labour behind these objects and what it means to pursue creative work in a neoliberal economy.

I am currently Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Transforming Middlemarch (2022-23), which aims to create a genetic edition of George Eliot’s famous novel. The edition will map the novel’s development into the 1994 BBC television series across an interactive set of archival materials and commentaries. My involvement in this project stems from the work I did as a postdoctoral research fellow at DMU, where I digitised and catalogued their acquisition of the Andrew Davies’ Archive - a unique set of holdings related to the British adaptor and screenwriter. 

Assistant Professor in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

I joined Nottingham in September 2012, having previously taught at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Exeter and the University of Southern New Hampshire. I studied at Oxford and Exeter, writing my PhD on the production history of Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.

My main research interests at the moment focus around two major areas. The first is the relationship between Shakespeare and the Bible, tracing the ways in which these collections of texts have been shaped, performed and interpreted. I am especially concerned with the ways they are both treated as "sacred texts", and subject to different kinds of reading than other books - and the ways those kinds of reading intersect.

The second is the British detective and fantasy fiction of the mid-twentieth century. My work explores the intellectual and social worlds of these books, relating them to contemporary concerns around gender, art, magic and religion.

Assistant Professor in Seventeenth-Century Literature and Drama

I completed my MPhil (2011) and PhD (2015) in English at Queens' College, Cambridge, after receiving my BA (2010) in English from Barnard College, Columbia University. I served as an Official Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Queens' in 2015-16; after that, I was a Fellow Commoner (Research) at Queens'. I also taught English Literature and Language at the Université Paris-Diderot in 2014-15. 

I teach Renaissance literature to undergraduates and postgraduates. I convene the third-year undergraduate course Reformation and Revolution, and contribute teaching to Drama, Theatre, and Performance; Shakespeare and his Contemporaries on the Page and Stage; Shakespeare's Histories; Shakespeare, Space, and Place; Early Performance Cultures; Speculative Fictions; and Twentieth Century Poetry and Politics. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations.

My doctoral dissertation is the basis of my current book project, Eloquent Blood: John Donne's Language of Disease. This study explores how early modern medical culture shaped the form of Donne's writing as much as its content. He mirrored the experience of illness - with its jarring transformations and harrowing uncertainties - in the paradoxes and contradictions for which his work is famous. My doctoral research informed two articles: 'More Than Skin Deep: Dissecting Donne's Imagery of Humours' in The Review of English Studies (September 2015) and 'Cures and Currency in John Donne's Verse Letters to Patrons' in Studies in English Literature (February 2017).

My new book project, Contemplating Melancholy: Women's Writing of the English Civil War, explores how and why women writing in seventeenth-century England featured melancholy in their work. My work will show how these writers embraced their war-inflicted isolation, displacement, and loss as a source of inspiration and developed an artistic identity distinct from that of their male peers. Yale's Beinecke Library has awarded me the Edith and Richard French Fellowship to underwrite research for the book during a semester-long residency in Spring 2020.


Chris Collins

Associate Professor of Drama

My primary area of research centres around performances of history, memory and heritage. We are all fascinated by the past because it is the best way of planning for the future. The simple question that my research continually returns to again is this: how is the future affected by the performance of what has been forgotten? I have written publications, directed performances, and facilitated workshops on this research topic for many years. For example, my most recent book, Theatre and Residual Culture, considered what happened when Irish playwright J.M. Synge staged performances about a pre-Christian history that Catholic Ireland at the turn of the twentieth-century desperately wanted to forget. I am equally interested in how communities use contemporary theatre to perform their own histories, memories and heritage to a wider public.

Sarah Grandage
Associate Professor in Drama and Performance

Areas of expertise: performance (theory & practice), stylistics and the language of drama, Shakespeare, 20thC and contemporary drama.

Having originally trained as an actor and worked in professional theatre for over a decade before entering academia, I now combine my practitioner experience with my research & teaching expertise to teach across a range of drama and performance modules in the School of English.

I continue to collaborate with academics as well as performance practitioners in the UK, Spain and Australia.

I am a member of the wider board at Nottingham Playhouse and am actively engaged in various theatre, performance and other creative projects in the local community, including facilitating the Nottingham Playgoers monthly meetings. 

A focus on embodied learning and the ethos of 'doing it on its feet' are at the heart of all my teaching of drama - enabling students to learn by doing, not just reading! Most rewarding is watching students start to better understand the difference between what a play text means and how it means, and the fact that meaning lies not just in the printed words on the page, but in the conjunction of the words with actors' bodies and voices, scenography and soundscapes, spaces and places of performance, and the influence of the socio-historical and political context in which a play is created and received.

Spencer Jordan

Spencer Jordan

Associate Professor in Creative Writing

My teaching speciality is fiction (the novel and the short story); historical and experimental writing; digital/hypertext fiction; and literary geography, particularly as it relates to the digitally-enhanced context of the smart city. My novel, Journeys in the Dead Season, was published by Macmillan in 2005.

I’m particularly interested in the role and function of creative writing within literary geography (and within that aspects of psychogeography). I’ve undertaken a number of projects that have looked at the interaction of creative writing, digital technology and subjective conceptions of place.

Dr Thomas Legendre

Thomas Legendre

Lecturer in Creative Writing

Much of my creative work in fiction (and a bit of drama) explores the subjective underpinnings of apparently objective material, drawing heavily from not only social sciences like economics and archaeology but also harder sciences such as astronomy and physics. This interest translates variously across my teaching from first-year undergraduate all the way up to PhD supervision, encouraging students to produce fiction of all shapes and sizes.

In particular I enjoy the subtle but crucial use of narrative voice and distance in relation to point-of-view, the self-generated structures of narrative, and the unexpected renderings of character, dialogue, setting, and plot that lead to engaging stories and novels. I also have an abiding interest in space and place, as demonstrated by my site-specific performance piece, Half Life, and my novel The Burning, which is set firmly in the American southwest.

Dr Lila Matsumoto

Lila Matsumoto

Assistant Professor in Creative Writing

John Cage wrote: ‘I have nothing to say/ and I am saying it/ and that is poetry/ as I need it.’ Cage expresses here the mysterious quality of poetry: both its power to draw out the beauty of the seeming ‘nothing’, and our need for this in our everyday lives. Much of my writing, research, and teaching engages with how poetic language can make our world wonderfully strange. I am interested in collaborative processes and have recently worked with visual artists to create a series of film poems and a physical theatre performance.

I am committed to connecting the practice and study of creative writing to wider research culture, in particular through small press publishing and organisation of literary events. I am on the steering committee of the poetry festival Outside-In/Inside-Out which takes place in Glasgow from October-November, and am the organiser of the Women Translate symposium taking place in Edinburgh in November 2016. My publications include the collections Soft Troika (If a Leaf Falls Press, 2016) and Allegories from my Kitchen (Sad Press, 2015).

Jon McGregor

Jon McGregor

Professor of Creative Writing

I’ve been a writer in residence in the School of English since 2012, and have worked with undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as colleagues to establish and produce The Letters Page, a literary journal in letters which has published writers from across the world who are interested in exploring correspondence as a literary form.

My work in the School draws extensively on my ongoing professional experience as a fiction writer. I aim to strip away some of the mystique which accrues around the publishing process, but also to encourage students to complicate and diversify their thinking about writing and publication, and about their roles within literary communities. My publications include the novels If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and the Impac Dublin Prize winning Even the Dogs, and a short story collection. My next novel, Reservoir 13, will be published by 4th Estate in April 2017.


Jim Moran

Professor of Modern English Literature and Drama

I am a professor of modern English literature and drama, and my research focuses in particular upon the theatre of twentieth-century Ireland and Britain. I first developed a serious interest in drama as an undergraduate student, when I ran a small theatre troupe and had a brief but glorious acting career, the highlights of which included being cross-dressed for a role in The Taming of the Shrew, and being cast as a non-speaking corpse in Richard III. I then continued my postgraduate studies by researching a group of modern Irish dramatists, and this work was published as my first book in 2005.

I was lucky enough to be appointed lecturer at the University of Nottingham in 2004, since when I have been awarded prizes and fellowships by the British Academy; the Leverhulme Trust; and the National University of Ireland, Galway. Today, I find it a genuine pleasure to explore literature and drama with a diverse range of students both inside and outside the university; I enjoy writing for a number of different publications; and I have had the good fortune to participate in a number of fascinating projects with colleagues at organisations including the Royal National Theatre and the BBC. 

Lucie Sutherland

Lucie Sutherland

Assistant Professor in Drama

As a researcher, I specialise in commercial theatre – specifically London’s West End – from the late nineteenth century to the present day. I came to the University in 2006 to work on the innovative AHRC project, ‘Mapping the Moment: Performance Culture in Nottingham 1857-1867’ led by my colleague Dr. Jo Robinson, and since that time, I have enjoyed working with a range of students and colleagues on teaching as well as research.

My particular interest lies in the way professional infrastructure influences repertoire in mainstream theatre, and I have published on subjects including the emergence and influence of formal training for actors, and the altering professional status of the actress in the early twentieth century. Current work includes a critical biography of actor-manager George Alexander and an edition for the Routledge ‘Fourth Wall’ series: J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’.


Matt Welton

Associate Professor in Creative Writing

I think of myself as a writer rather than as a poet. Here’s why. When I began writing, I imagined I would write books that had something important to say. I figured, though, that in order to get the important stuff across I would first need to master writing technique. What actually happened was that my interest in technique led to a fascination with form, and my poems moved from using obvious technical things like rhyme and metre towards playing games with grammar or phrasing or the repetition of words. These days my poems resemble tiny novels. Really I think I just care about having fun with language.

Recognition for my work includes the Jerwood-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, second place in the Arvon International Poetry Competition, the Eric Gregory Award, and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. My third book, The Number Poems, will be published by Carcanet in 2016.

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Photos by Nic McPhee / CC BY 2.0

Drama and Creative Writing

School of English
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The University of Nottingham
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telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
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