Staff profile

Dr Stephen Watkins

Lecturer in English Literature

Stephen Watkins in a classroom.


English, Creative Writing and Publishing


College of Arts, Humanities and Education



Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre





I am a Lecturer in English Literature, specialising in the literary and theatrical culture of early modern Britain. Before joining Derby in January 2019, I taught at the University of Southampton, where I also completed an AHRC-funded PhD on the poet and playwright Sir William Davenant (1606-68). I completed my BA in English at Southampton in 2013 and received an MA in Renaissance Literature from the University of York in 2014.

I am Chair of the Early English Drama and Performance Network, which hosts an annual symposium for Early Career Academics working in the fields of medieval and early modern drama and theatre, and I have recently been appointed a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture at the University of Southampton.

Teaching responsibilities

Foundation Year

First Year

Second Year

Third Year


At postgraduate level, I lecture on Research Methods and Early Modern Literature to Humanities MA students.

Research interests

My research interests are wide-ranging, but my principal specialism lies in the commercial and court theatres of the Renaissance and Restoration periods. More broadly, my research embraces Medieval and Renaissance poetry, drama, and prose; theatre and performance studies; the history of the book; early opera studies; and the reception of Classical literature from early modernity to the present.

I have written on the emergence of opera in London in the 1650s, on Restoration drama in print and performance, as well as on seventeenth-century adaptations of Shakespeare. I am currently completing a monograph, based on my doctoral research, on the playwright and theatre manager Sir William Davenant (1606-1668).

I am also developing two new research projects: 1) a study of genre, repertory and commercial competition in the Restoration theatre; 2) a critical study of the heroic poem in early modern Europe.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

I regularly give papers, both in the UK and internationally. Recent conference presentations include:

Experience in industry

I am Chair of the Early English Drama and Performance Network and serve in that capacity as a ex officio committee member for Medieval English Theatre. I am also a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture at the University of Southampton.

Throughout 2017-19, I served as a scholar-consultant on the major AHRC project, 'Performing Restoration Shakespeare', led by Professor Richard Schoch (Queen's University, Belfast) and Professor Amanda Eubanks Winkler (Syracuse University, USA). This involved working with a number of partner organisations - including Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC - to explore how we might stage for contemporary audiences Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare's The Tempest and Macbeth.

The project was structured around a series of public workshops, bringing together scholars, performers, musicians and other practioners, eventually leading to a full-scale, Equity production of William Davenant’s 1664 adaptation of Macbeth at the Folger in September 2018. Scholarly outputs include a conference on Restoration Shakespeare and Performance as well as a forthcoming collection of essays, to be published by Cambridge University Press. 

I have given talks on early modern theatre to public audiences - for example, as part of the 'Read Not Dead' series run by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre - and I frequently provide programme notes for professional productions. Reviews of productions and scholarly books have appeared in Renaissance StudiesRestoration, and The Seventeenth-Century Journal.

I am always keen to promote the discipline of English in both schools and universities. As such, I have an active interest in higher education policymaking. I frequently engage in discussions with subject associations and other stakeholders about the challenges facing our sector, especially in relation to early-career academics, precarity, and the future of academic publishing.

Recent publications

Journal Articles

Chapters in Edited Collections