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School of English and Drama

Dr Tamara Atkin, BA (Dublin), MSt (Oxford), DPhil (Oxford)


Reader in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7882 2865
Room Number: ArtsOne 3.31
Office Hours: Check QMPlus


I joined Queen Mary after completing my doctorate at the University of Oxford. My thesis explored the relationship between drama and religion before and during the English Reformation; from it I developed my first book, The Drama of Reform: Theology and Theatricality, 1461-1553 (Brepols, 2013). Since then I have co-edited a collection of essays, The Psalms in Medieval English Literature (Boydell & Brewer, 2017), which grew out of the conference on Psalm Culture and the Politics of Translation (2013) that I co-organised with Ruth Ahnert (QMUL) and Francis Leneghan (Oxford).I am also the editor of two further essay collections on medieval and renaissance material culture.

My second book, Reading Drama in Tudor England was published by Routledge in 2018. In it, I examine the role of Tudor stationers in the emergence of drama as a literary category of text. Since publishing this book, I have begun a new study about attitudes towards waste and reuse in pre-modern Western cultures. In addition to this book project, I have chapters forthcoming in essay collections for Brepols, Boydell & Brewer, and Oxford University Press. I also write occasionally for the Times Literary Supplement


QM’s location offers unique opportunities for teaching in and around various London sites, museums, libraries and galleries, and I like to promote learning strategies that take students out of and beyond the classroom. Most of the modules I teach involve trips and study sessions at a number of off-campus locations, and recent visits have included: the National Portrait Gallery; the Victoria and Albert Museum; Sutton House; the Museum of London; the Wellcome Library; the British Library; and Senate House Library.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH110: Literatures in Time
  • ESH283: Arthurian Literature
  • ESH292: Early Modern Drama

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also convened ESH7000 MA Dissertation.


Research Interests:

  • Medieval and renaissance drama
  • Religious writing from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
  • Histories of the book and reading before during and after the introduction of print
  • The periodization of medieval and early modern literature and the making of the canon

Recent and On-Going Research:

My recent book, Reading Drama in Tudor England (Routledge, 2018) is about the invention of drama as a legible category of text before the establishment of commercial theatres in London in the 1570s. Research for this book has led to collaboration with other academics, including Emma Smith (Oxford) and Laura Estill (St Francis Xavier, Nova Scotia) and taken me to libraries and rare book collections across the UK and US. It shows that reading drama as a leisure-time pursuit considerably predates both the rise of professional playing and the publication of self-consciously literary playtexts like Jonson’s Works (1616).

My new research grows out of my thinking about the way that playbooks became obsolete, were dismembered, and occasionally reused within the bindings of other books. Beginning with a consideration of writing by John Bale and John Leland about the post-Dissolution fate of Monastic libraries, it assesses the relationship between bibliographic and literary ideas about waste and reuse.


Selected Publications:


Early British Drama in Manuscript. Co-editor, with Laura Estill. Turnhout: Brepols, 2019

Manuscript and Print in Late Medieval and Early Tudor Britain: Essays Honouring Professor Julia Boffey. Co-editor, with Jaclyn Rajsic. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2019

Reading Drama in Tudor England. London: Routledge, 2018

The Psalms and Medieval English Literature. Co-editor, with Francis Leneghan. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2017

The Drama of Reform: Theology and Theatricality, 1461-1553. Turnhout: Brepols, 2013

Books in Progress

Ecologies of Waste in Early Modern England

Refereed Articles in Academic Journals and Collections

‘Reading Late Medieval Piety in Early Modern England’. In Medieval and Early Modern Religious Culture: Essays Honouring Vincent Gillespie on His 65th Birthday. Ed. by Laura Ashe and Ralph Hanna. Boydell & Brewer, 2019.

Gismond of Salerne in Script and Print’. In Early British Drama in Manuscript.

‘Character Lists’. In Book Parks. Ed. by Dennis Duncan and Adam Smyth. Oxford University Press.

‘Playing Space: Reading Dramatic Title-Pages in Early Printed Plays’. In Spaces for Reading in Later Medieval England. Ed. Carrie Griffith and Mary Flannery. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Pp. 79-97

‘Reforming Sanctity: The Digby Mary Magdalen and Lewis Wager’s Life and Repentaunce of Mary Magdalene’. In Sanctity as Literature in Late Medieval Britain. Ed. Anke Bernau and Eva von Conzten. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. Pp. 191-208

‘“The personages that speake”: Playing with Parts in Early Printed Drama’. Medieval English Theatre, 36 (2014): 46-69

‘The Form and Function of Character Lists in Plays Printed before the Closing of the Theatres’. With Emma Smith. Review of English Studies, 65 (2014): 647-72

‘Playing with Books in John Bale’s Three Laws’. Yearbook of English Studies, 43 (2013): 243-61

‘Manuscript Print, and the Circulation of Dramatic Texts: A Reconsideration of the Manuscript of The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom’. English Manuscript Studies, 1100-1700, 15 (2009): 152-65

‘Playbooks and Printed Drama: A Reassessment of the Manuscript of the Croxton Play of the Sacrament’. Review of English Studies, 60 (2009): 294-205

Other Articles, Including Articles in Companions and Other Reference Works

Mankind’. In Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of British Medieval Literature. Ed Siân Echard and Robert Rouse. Wiley-Blackwell. Under contract; submitted December 2015

‘Printers, Publishers, and Promoters to 1558’. With A. S. G. Edwards. In A Companion to the Early English Book. Ed. by Vincent Gillespie and Susan Powell. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2014. Pp. 27-44

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile.


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Public Engagement

I am an occasional contributor to the TLS. You can see my most recent theatre review here. I am planning a series of podcasts on material culture and history of the book work currently going on at QMUL. 

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