Professor Katharine Craik

Director of Research and Professor in Early Modern Literature (1500-1750)

School of Education, Humanities and Languages


Katharine completed her BA, MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, and held lectureships at Worcester College (University of Oxford) and University College London before arriving at Oxford Brookes in 2005. She specialises in Shakespeare and early modern literature, with particular interests in the history of emotion and sensation, textual criticism and editing, and the interface between critical and creative writing.

Katharine is currently working on a study of vividness and artificial life entitled Lifelike Shakespeare (under contract with Oxford University Press). She has published two collections of essays: Shakespeare and Emotion (Cambridge University Press, 2020); and, with Tanya Pollard, Shakespearean Sensations: The Experience of Theatre in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Her monograph Reading Sensations in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2007), explored the power of literature to affect readers’ minds, bodies and souls. Her archival work on the sources of Ben Jonson's masques was published in The Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson (Cambridge University Press, 2014). 

Katharine was Principal Investigator on Watching, a project funded by an Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust to explore the Renaissance history of sleep ( A collaboration between academics, scientists, theatre practitioners and schools, Watching culminated in March 2015 with four full-scale promenade performances by twilight of Katharine's new opera on sleep in the landmark Glasshouses of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. Watching was profiled on BBC Radio 3 (Free Thinking) and on Radio Scotland (The Culture Show). With Ewan Fernie (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham), Katharine has developed and co-written Marina, a new play based on Shakespeare's Pericles, which was adopted for Research and Development with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2018.

Katharine writes creatively, and a selection of her poems appeared in The Harvard Review in 2019. Her poetry was longlisted for the National Poetry Prize in 2022 and 2020, shortlisted for the international Bridport Prize in 2013 and 2014, and for the Dermot Healy Poetry Competition in 2014. With colleagues at Oxford and UEA, she is a commissioning editor of beyond criticism, a new series of books with the independent Boiler House Press which sets out to explore the interface between critical and creative writing: Katharine also has extensive experience as a librettist. An opera based on Wagner’s Das Rheingold, written in collaboration with composer David Knotts, was commissioned by English National Opera to celebrate the opening of the new Clore Studio at the London Coliseum and premiered in a full-scale professional production in April 2004. Katharine has also collaborated with David on operas for the Youth Group at Glyndebourne and London’s W11 Opera. Her opera entitled The Quicken Tree, based on Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and written in collaboration with composer Dee Isaacs, was performed in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens in March 2011.

Outside Oxford Brookes, Katharine is Executive Secretary of The Malone Society ( Since its foundation in 1906, the Society’s purpose has been to make more accessible the materials essential for the study of English Renaissance drama.

Katharine is a Fellow of the English Association, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She has recently examined PhD dissertations at the University of Sydney, the Shakespeare Institute, University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of St Andrews and Loughborough University. She served from 2016 - 2020 as External Examiner for BA programmes in English at the University of Bristol, and for MA programmes (including Shakespeare and Creativity) at the Shakespeare Institute.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught


  • Shakespeare
  • Critical Theory in Action
  • Advanced Options: The Theatrical City: Shakespeare, Jonson and Others
  • Special Topic: Renaissance Material Culture


  • Shakespeare and the history of emotion
  • Bibliography and textual criticism
  • Doctoral and MA supervision in early modern literature and culture


Centres and institutes



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Professional information


Selected presentations:

  • Abject Science (Shakespeare Association of America, Minneapolis, April 2023): 'O’er-doing it: Technologies of the Lifelike in Hamlet'
  • Early Modern Seminar (Faculty of English, University of Oxford, April, 2022): 'Lifelikeness and Deathlikeness in Shakespeare'
  • Renaissance Seminar (Dept of English, De Montford University, Feb 2022): 'Light and Lifelikeness in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost'
  • Critical/Creative Summit (University of East Anglia, Norwich, June 2019): ‘Creative Criticism and the Marina Project’ 
  • Renaissance Society of America (March 2019): 'Printing and artificial life in Shakespeare’s Sonnets'
  • Radical Mischief: Theatre, Thought, Politics (RSC/University of Birmingham, August 2018): ‘The Marina Project’
  • The Life of Breath, Durham (July 2018): 'Being breathed: from King Lear to Clinical Medicine'
  • Affect Theory and the History of the Emotions in Early Modern English Drama, CUNY (March 2018): 'Quickening Shakespeare'
  • Literature and Medicine seminar, University of Oxford (June 2016):'The Marina Project'
  • Early Modern Seminar, University of Oxford (March 2016): 'Poetry, Anatomy, Presence'
  • Early Modern Seminar, University of Cambridge (October 2015): 'Poetry, Anatomy, Presence'
  • Public Lecture, University of Hull (February 2015): 'Shakespeare and the History of Emotion'
  • Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford (October 2014): 'Rhetoric and Wonder in Shakespeare's Sonnets’
  • International Shakespeare Conference (Stratford-upon-Avon, August 2014): Plenary lecture, 'Sympathetic Sonnets'
  • Research Seminar, LMU Munich (February 2014): 'Shakespeare's Coriolanus and the Compassionate Voice'
  • Early Modern Seminar, Sussex University (January 2014): 'Sublime Shakespeare'
  • The Blood Conference, Oxford University (January 2014): 'Blood Brothers'
  • Reading and Health in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), Newcastle University: Keynote lecture (July 2013)
  • Shakespeare and the Senses, Shakespeare's Globe (2011): 'Touching Stories'
  • Popular Culture in the Early Modern World, University of Sussex (2007): ‘Shakespeare’s Soldiers’
  • University of Oxford, Renaissance Graduate Seminar; and University of Hull, Graduate Seminar (2005): ‘Reading, Writing and Sensation in Early Modern England’
  • Minds and Bodies: Renaissance Ways of Knowing (2004) Centre for Research in Renaissance Studies, Roehampton University: ‘Renaissance Experiences of Reading’
  • Shakespeare Association of America (2004): ‘“The Material Point of Poesy”: Reading, Writing and Sensation in Puttenham’s The Arte of English Poesie’

Conferences and seminars organised:

  • Shakespeare's Alive! (Shakespeare Association of America, Online, April 2022)
  • 'Class and Emotion in Shakespeare', Shakespeare Association of America, Toronto (March 2013)
  • 'Passionate Shakespeare', International Shakespeare Congress, Stratford-upon-Avon (August 2012)
  • 'Early Modern Women', Oxford Brookes University, June 2010
  • ‘Tudor Medicine and the Body’, Hampton Court Palace, June 2009
  • Shakespeare Association of America, Philadelphia, April 2006 ‘Shakespearean Sensations’, co-organised with Dr Tanya Pollard (Brooklyn College, CUNY)