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School of English and Drama

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


Professor in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Head of English

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


I joined Queen Mary in 2008 after completing a PhD about medieval drama and religious reform at the University of Oxford. Since then, I have continued to write about England’s earliest plays. Publications in this area include my two first books The Drama of Reform: Theology and Theatricality, 1461-1553 (2013) and Reading Drama in Tudor England (2018), as well as a co-edited collection (with Laura Estill), Early British Drama in Manuscript (2019).

All my work is concerned with the material conditions that shape literary production and reception. Alongside my writing about medieval and early modern drama, I have published extensively on the interactions between manuscript and print publication, the marketing of early printed books, and various other aspects of the pre-modern English book trade. My current book project grows from a Leverhulme-funded Major Research Fellowship and explores the reuse and recycling of old books in early modern England.  



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:

  • ESH129 Literatures in Time
  • ESH280 Renaissance Drama
  • ESH5003 Chaucer

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also convened ESH7000 MA Dissertation.


Research Interests:

Research Interests

  • Medieval and early modern drama
  • Fifteenth and sixteenth century religious writing
  • Histories of the pre-modern book


Recent and On-Going Research

My last book Reading Drama in Tudor England (Routledge, 2018) was about the invention by printers of drama as a legible category of text during the Tudor period. Research for this book led to collaborations with other academics, including Emma Smith (Oxford) and Laura Estill (St Francis Xavier, Nova Scotia) and took me to libraries and rare book collections across the UK and US. 

 My current book project, Reusing Books in Early Modern England, 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 and considers the role of old books (both as wasted remnants and second-hand commodities) in early modern culture. 



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

  • Reusing Books in Early Modern England

Refereed Articles in Academic Journals and Collections

  • ‘The Material and Textual Value of Manuscript and Print Binding Waste’, Renaissance Studies. Forthcoming in 2025
  • ‘Medieval Inheritance’. In The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Authorship. Ed. by Rory Loughnane and Will Sharoe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming in 2024
  • ‘Agents of Book-Making I: Scribes, Printers, Compositors, Correctors, Binders’. In The Oxford Handbook to the History of the Book in Early Modern England. Ed. by Adam Smyth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023)
  • ‘A New Witness to Bèroul’s Tristan’. With JR Mattison. PBSA, 117.1 (2023), 5–39
  • ‘The Poetry of Religious and Moral Drama’. In The Oxford History of Poetry in English III: 1400-1500. Ed. by Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. Pp. 213–37
  • ‘A New Witness to Two Tudor Poems’. Review of English Studies, 73 (2022): 840–59
  • ‘A Fragment of a Lost Chanson de geste’. With Marianne Ailes and Philip Bennett. Medieval Manuscript Fragments and their Significance. Ed. A.S.G. Edwards [special issue]. Florilegium, 35 (2018 [2022]): 158–79
  • Gismond of Salerne in Script and Print’. In Early British Drama in Manuscript. Turnhout: Brepols, 2019. Pp 249–66
  • ‘Character Lists’. In Book Parks. Ed. by Dennis Duncan and Adam Smyth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. 123–36
  • ‘Reading Late-Medieval Piety in Early Modern England’. In Medieval and Early Modern Religious Cultures. Ed. by Laura Ashe and Ralph Hanna. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2019. Pp 209–42

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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