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Lorna Giltrow-Shaw

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

“This low built house will bring us to our ends”: Plague quarantine and prophylactic boundaries in early modern drama and culture, 1593-1625

My research examines how the applied physical, psychical, and phenomenological plague-time ‘prophylactic’ boundaries condition space within early modern London. As theatre offers a locus for sharing the human experience, creative interactions with plague-time prevention may offer crucial insights into how plague spatial orders were understood, assimilated, and experienced. These latent experiences will be engaged with through examining how applied defensive boundaries, such as quarantine, reorient the spatial paradigms within the early modern playhouse space itself, and the conceptual worlds within its drama. My aim is to explore these dramatic articulations of plague-time space and their interactions with the material performance space, as alert and critical models of contemporary prophylactic practice, and as extant cultural records of a largely unknown early modern experience.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


-"The Plague of COVID-19?" The impact of the current pandemic on my work. Research Seminar, The Shakespeare institute. Chair: Tiffany Stern, 24th February 2022.
-"Lock the doors up fast": Examining early modern plague prevention practices in John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize. The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference (online) 23rd August 2021.
-"Were it not possible for thee to become an honest dog yet": Contextualising the Witch of Edmonton's Dog Within Early Modern Plague Culture. The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute (online) 20th September 2020.
-The Changing Nature of Hospitality in Early Modern Plague Culture: Key Primary Texts. Early Modern Texts: Challenges, Methods and Materiality Online Research PGR Showcase, University of Birmingham, 16th September 2020.
 -"Death... dogs them into their own houses": The Pestilential Pooch in the Collaborative Jacobean Play The Witch of Edmonton.'Reconsidering Illness and Recovery in the Early Modern World Online Conference. 18th-19th August 2020.
-The plague is i'th house:' Plague Quarantine in the Indoor Early Modern Playhouse'. The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, June 2018.

Panellist and co-organiser
Sixth Form Conference: Othello. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon, February 2018.

Panel Chair
 'Corporeality'. The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, June 2019.

Conference Auditor
-The Long Black Death: new perspectives, Society for Medieval Archeology Annual Conference 2019, University of York, July 2019.
-Midlands3Cities Research Festival, Birmingham, May 2019.
-Radical Mischief conference:  Inviting experiment in theatre, thought and politics, The Other Place, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 2018. Attendance bursary recepient.

Public Engagement & Impact

"The Plague and the Early Modern Playhouse"- King Edward VI College- Aspire programme Lecture.

Freelance EFL speaker at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, delivering the following sessions up to Key stage 5:  'Shakespeare: Blood, Guts and Gore', Shakespeare's Theatre, and Shakespeare's Influence on Modern English.'

Other Research Interests

Early Modern Playhouse Culture
Medical Humanities
Sensory Studies
Performance Practice 
Creative Practice as Research


The Bristish Shakespeare Association
The Malone Society