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Sarah Hodgson

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Procuring Immortality: Eschatological Reform and the Pursuit of Worldly Fame in English Renaissance Literature

My thesis investigates how early modern citizens envisaged death and the afterlife, exploring how the changing religious culture of the English Reformation(s) influenced traditional eschatological beliefs. By adopting a new historicist critical lens, my research considers the extent to which early modern literature mirrors contemporary societal concerns and conversely, how Elizabethan and Jacobean social attitudes were influenced by Renaissance literature. Through close analysis of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century spiritual and secular literatures, I endeavour to prove that there is a direct correlation between the dissolution of the relationship between the living and the dead and the emerging societal appetite for worldly fame and self-memorialisation. My thesis argues that dramatists responded to ecclesiastical changes within the ceremonial remembrance of the dead by portraying characters who seek to dictate their own post-mortem legacy prior to death, to secure their immortality by secular means.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


  • '"Are we all met?": Responding to Shakespeare's Canon through Online Community Performance', in Lockdown Shakespeare: New Evolutions in Performance and Adaptation (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2022). (Co-author). In press.

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Registrar, British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, Shakespeare Institute, 2022
  • School Student Representative, Shakespeare Institute, 2021-22
  • Equality and Diversity Student Representative, Shakespeare Institute, 2019-20

Other Research Interests

  • Post-Reformation Christianity
  • Epigraphy
  • Commemoration of the Dead
  • Early Modern Drama
  • Textual Legacies


  • The Arts Society
  • The Church Monuments Society


  • Shakespeare Institute Sir Stanley Wells Prize for outstanding scholarly work in an MA dissertation, 2020 (£50)
  • Durham University Supported Progression Scholarship, 2016-2019 (£16,500)

Previous Education

  • MA Shakespeare Studies at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, 2019-2020
  • BA (Hons) English Literature at Durham University, 2016-2019 (Van Mildert College)