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Personal profile


Dr Sarah Carpenter took a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, followed by a PhD on Tudor allegorical theatre.  She then taught in the English department at Exeter University  before joining the department at Edinburgh in 1976.  She has interests in drama and in the medieval and Tudor periods, teaching courses in medieval English and Scots literature, and in drama and theatre history.  During her time at Edinburgh she has worked widely in student support, curriculum development and teaching practice, and was head of department 2003-2006.  She is an editor of the journal Medieval English Theatre, and has published books and numerous articles on early theatre, performance, staging, political and cultural issues.

Research Interests

Sarah’s main areas of research are in medieval and sixteenth century drama, focusing especially on the material and performance aspects of theatre and on its cultural contexts. One major project was on masks and masking traditions in the medieval and Tudor periods, exploring popular and courtly masking games, carnival and masking theories as well as drama and literary representations.

Sarah welcomes research proposals from prospective PhD candidates in any area of late medieval English or Scottish literature, but especially in aspects of medieval and early modern drama, performance and theatre history. She has supervised PhD theses on such topics as: the medieval practice of reading aloud; Jacobean theatre and the drama of the 1960s; representations of Jews in medieval miracle tales; subjectivity and the early modern extended mind; colour and costume in medieval romance.

Research activity

She is currently working on a study of performance activity at the Royal Court of Scotland before 1650, investigating the cultural, political and social functions of court performance.  This is part of the Records of Early Drama: Scotland project, a subset of the long-established Records of Early English Drama.  It will eventually draw together and make available all surviving records of thearical activity related to the Scottish Royal Court up until the mid-seventeenth century.


Sarah teaches or contributes to Honours/MSc options in:

Reading the Middle Ages

Medieval Dream Literature

Working with Pre-modern manuscripts

Naturalist Theatre 1880-1920

Honours options:

The Field Full of Folk: Medieval literature and the imagination of the world

Shakespeare's Comedies: Identity and illusion


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