Dr Clare Egan

Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Research Overview

My research focuses on drama and performance in medieval and early modern England, especially through the study of spectatorship. I study the ways in which people at the lower levels of society used performance in their everyday lives to enact communal conflicts; the focus of this research is the performance of provincial libels under James I. Preserved in the Star Chamber court records are accounts of early communities writing slanderous verses about one another and reading them aloud to local audiences, as well as fixing symbols to significant public places and acting various out mock-ceremonies. My research investigates the literary and performance nature of these sources along with their uses of place and space, including using digital mapping to locate them in their contemporary landscape using GIS (Geographic Information Systems). I also have research interests in early ecocriticism and communal reactions to early environmental problems; particularly extreme weather events during the Little Ice Age as recorded in personal diaries.

The formation of identity and selfhood through literature and performance is my broader research area, especially the existence of anxiety over the boundaries of public and private life throughout the medieval period.