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Name: Sarah O'Malley

PhD: English

Thesis Title: Gendered Lands: Literary Representations of Seventeenth-Century English Landscapes, Spaces and Places at Home and Abroad


Thesis Description:

My research interests lie in literary geographies, and the connections between constructions and representations of identity and space. My PhD looks at how the old and New Worlds of seventeenth-century England were connected via a shared discourse and frame of reference through which space was understood and represented. Within this I look at how identity, specifically gender identity, was closely related to conceptions of, and interactions with, a variety of specific spaces in these two locations. In turn, the role gender and conventions of social order played in constructing material spaces and places is also explored. 

Archival work and analysis of primary sources will form the backbone of my work. I will look at a range of texts, from unpublished manuscripts, letters and diaries, to drama, sermons and pamphlets, allowing me to build a diverse view of the representations of, and relationships to, different early modern English spaces. Methodologically I will blend textual analysis with historical and theoretical enquiry - New Historicism and Cultural Materialism inform the majority of early modern literary studies, and will help me firmly locate my study in the period. I build on work from cognitive science that has recently begun to emerge in analyses of early modern literature and culture; the frameworks of distributed and embodied cognition allowing me to uncover the two-way relationship between subject and environment, and also to explore the influential role theatre, text, and 'imagined geographies' had on construction and understanding of the 'real'.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr Peter Kirwan - University of Nottingham

Professor Julie Sanders - University of Newcastle



  • Book Review of Charlotte Scott's Shakespeare's Nature, in Early Theatre (2016)
  • Book Review of David B. Goldstein and Julia Reinhard Lupton's Shakespeare and Hospitality, in Early Theatre (forthcoming, 2017)

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Conference Papers:


  • 'Seventeenth-Century Literature, Territoriality and the Embodied Mind' at Environments: Landscapes and the Mind, 19 June, Goldsmiths University 

  • ‘Conflicting Identities and the Production of Geography: An Exploration into the Transportation of Landscape Narratives from Greater East Anglia to New England’ at Travel and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern World, 3-5 September, Bangor University 


  • 'Exploring the Relationship Between Representations of Old and New World English Spaces', at the M3C Research Festival, 12th May, Nottingham Trent University 
  • ''One can scarce distinguish New-England from Old': The shared spaces of England and the New World in Seventeenth-Century Literature', at Sharing Space in the Early Modern World (1450-1750), 24th - 25th June, University of Oxford 
  • '(Re)Creating English Homespaces in the New World' at the World Shakespeare Congress, 31st July - 8th August, London and Stratford-upon-Avon 


  • ''One can scarce distinguish New-England from Old': Exploring representations of domestic space in England and its New World Colonies', at Space, Place and Image in Early Modern Literature, 11th - 13th May, University of Lausanne (forthcoming)


  • Seminar tutor on the second year undergraduate module 'Shakespeare and his Contemporaries on the Page', The University of Nottingham


SDF Activities:

  • Research Trip to America, 8th August - 3rd September 2016
    Thanks to SDF and RTSG funding from M3C I was able to undertake a month long research trip to America in August 2016. This trip was essential to my PhD, which looks at the influence of North American colonial discourse on representations of space and place in seventeenth-century English literature. I spent time in various archives including the Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard, and the Library of Virginia, as well as visiting various living history sites across New England and Virginia. One of the most exciting parts of my trip was visiting the Jamestown archaeological site, where I was lucky enough to spend the day exploring the site and collections with some of the curators and archaeologists. My research trip has undoubtedly strengthened both the archival and interdisciplinary facets of my project, as well being a truly amazing experience for me personally.
  • World Shakespeare Congress, 31st July - 6th August 2016
    SDF funding allowed me to attend and present at one of the largest and most prestigious international conferences in the field of early modern literary studies. I took part in the 'Shakespeare and the (Re)Creation of Early Modern Geographies' seminar, which included academics working at the forefront of my research area. I received valuable feedback on my paper, which has now formed a substantial part of my first chapter and will be worked up for publication in the near future. 




Other Research Interests:

  • Landscape, Space and Place
  • Literary Geographies
  • Distributed and Embodied Cognition
  • Cultural Geography
  • Eco-feminism
  • The Supernatural
  • Early Modern Drama
  • Early English colonial activity
  • Improvement and Enclosure


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