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Dr Sarah Burdett

Course Lead in English

Dr Sarah Burdett

About Research



Dr Sarah Burdett is Programme Lead in English. She holds a PhD from the University of York, completed within the department of English and Related Literature and the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies. Sarah has previously taught at the Universities of Warwick, Plymouth, Winchester and York. Her teaching specialisms include Romanticism; gender and sexuality in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain; theatre history; and British responses to the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Sarah is general editor of the 'Teaching Romanticism' series of Romantic Textualities.

Academic and professional qualifications

  • Associate Fellow of the HEA, University of Warwick, 2021
  • PhD in English, University of York, 2016
  • MA in Romantic and Sentimental Literature, Distinction, University of York, 2012
  • BA in English Literature, First Class (Starred), University of East Anglia, 2011


Areas of research supervision

  • British Romantic Literature and Theatre
  • Eighteenth-Century Literature and Theatre
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature and Theatre
  • Literature of the 1790s
  • Gender Transgression in Literature and Theatre
  • Literature and Sensibility
  • British responses to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
  • Romantic Women Writers
  • Women and Violence
  • Georgian Theatre
  • Georgian Actresses
  • Theatrical Adaptations

Research profile

Sarah’s research focuses on representations and receptions of arms-bearing women on the British stage during the French revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. Tracing the figure’s reputation in late eighteenth-century Britain as a striking symbol of extreme political and social disruption, her work interrogates the extent to which Britain’s perpetually shifting relationship with home and European nations, and the importation of new dramatic genres from Europe, serve to furnish the female warrior with a plethora of constantly evolving, ideologically-loaded theatrical meanings. Sarah’s debut monograph is in press with Palgrave Macmillan, and will be published as part of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print series in 2022.

Sarah has been awarded and pursued Visiting Research Fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In 2017, she collaborated with professional partners including English Heritage and the Georgian Theatre Royal on restaging two nineteenth-century melodramas while working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the AHRC-funded project 'Staging Napoleonic Theatre', at the University of Warwick. Sarah has been awarded independent and collaborative research grants from the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Royal Historical Society, and the York Georgian Society.


  • The Arms-Bearing Woman and British Theatre in the Age of Revolution, 1789-1815. In press with Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming 2022).

Journal articles and book chapters

  • “’Tis Gallia’s Hopeless Queen!”: Resurrecting the Dead in John Philip Kemble’s Macbeth.’ Last Scene of All: Representing Death on the Western Stage (Legenda, 2021 - in Press).
  • ‘Excavating French Melodrama of the First Empire’. Co-authored with Prof. Katherine Astbury and Dr Diane Tisdall. Sound Stage Screen, vol.1, Spring 2021, pp.7-46.
  • ‘“Weeping Mothers Shall Applaud”: Sarah Yates as Margaret of Anjou on the London Stage, 1797.’ Comparative Drama, vol.49, no.4, Special edition, Winter 2015, pp.419-444.
  • ‘“Be Mine in Politics”: Charlotte Corday and Anti-Union Allegory in Matthew West’s Female Heroism, A Tragedy in Five Acts (1803)’. Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research, vol.30, no.1-2, Double Issue, Summer/Winter 2015, pp.89-108.
  • "Feminine Virtues Violated": Motherhood, Female Militancy and Revolutionary Violence in Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Massacre (1792). Dandelion Journal, vol.5, no.1, Summer 2014, pp.1-13.

Coursebook and magazine contributions

  • Women Warriors in the Eighteenth Century. Garageland: Art, Culture and Ideas, issue 22, October 2018
  • Shakespeare's Words: Education and Rhetoric in Hamlet (EMC Advanced Literature Series, ed. Lucy Webster. London: English and Media Centre, 2017)
  • An Unwanted Dinner Guest: Language, Gender and Power. Emagazine, 2010
  • 'Shakespeare's Way with Words': Education and Rhetoric in Hamlet. Emagazine, 2011

Conference papers

  • "Actresses more adroit in warlike operations than ours”: British Discomfort with women in German drama. The Uncomfortable Eighteenth Century, Online Symposium, April 2021.
  • Melodrama Restaged: Learning to Speak with the Body. Creative Histories Symposium, University of Bristol, April 2019.
  • From Nineteenth-Century Paris to Twenty First-Century Yorkshire: Re-Staging 'The Fortress' at the Georgian Theatre Royal. City, Space and Spectacle Conference, Venice, July 2018.
  • "I Never Laughed So Much!": Performing French Melodrama in Nineteenth-Century London and Twenty-First Century Yorkshire. Nineteenth-Century World and London Stage Conference, New College Oxford, April 2018.
  • Representing Charlotte Corday in the Scottish Novel and the Irish Theatre, 1800-1804. Eighteenth-Century Research seminar, University of Edinburgh, March 2018.
  • “’Tis Gallia’s hopeless Queen!”: Resurrecting the Dead in John Philip Kemble’s Macbeth’. Death, Dying, and Dead on Stage Conference, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, March 2018 (Invited Speaker).
  • From Bloodthirsty Amazon to "Desp’rate Mother": Sarah Yates’s Re-Invention of Queen Margaret of Anjou on the 1790s London Stage. Women's Studies Group Seminar, Foundling Museum, London, Jan. 2018.
  • Improving by Removing: Neutralising the Threat of the Martial Woman in Elizabeth Inchbald's Next Door Neighbours. BARS conference, University of York, July 2017.
  • "Servicable to [his] Country": Charlotte Corday and Irish Politics on the Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin Stage. The Irish and the London Stage, Trinity College Dublin, February 2017.
  • "What Ghastly Shade Attracts my Sight?": Sarah Siddons, Lady Macbeth, and the Ghost of Marie Antoinette. BSECS Conference, St Hughs College, Oxford, Jan. 2017.
  • ‘“Be Mine in Politics”: Charlotte Corday and Anti-Union Allegory in Matthew West’s Female Heroism (1803)’. BSECS Conference, St Hugh's Oxford, Jan 2015. Nominated for President’s Prize.
  • Transgressing the Boundaries of Decorous Femininity: Charlotte Corday in British Dramas, 1794-1804 (Transgressing Boundaries 1775-1830, Newcastle University, July 2014)
  • "The Subject is so Horrid": Female Militancy, Murdered Mothers and the Turn from Stage to Page in Elizabeth Inchbald's The Massacre (1792). BSECS Conference, St Hugh's College, University of Oxford, January 2014.
  • "Pleasanter to Read than to See": Horror, Terror, and the Closet Drama (CECS Forum, University of York, November 2013)
  • "Feminine Virtues Violated": Arms-Bearing Women in Elizabeth Inchbald’s Dramas (Annual British Women Writers Conference, University of New Mexico, April 2013).

Scholarly blogs

  • Theatrical disturbances and actors behaving badly: what the Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal tells us about nineteenth-century theatrical life. The Collation: Research and Exploration at the Folger, Nov. 2017.
  • Staging Nineteenth-Century Melodrama at the Georgian Theatre Royal. BARS Blog, August 2017; Revolutionary Researchers Forum, August 2017.
  • Love a la Mode after Macklin, Review. BSECS Criticks, June 2017.
  • Staging History Exhibition, Review. BSECS Criticks, Jan. 2017.
  • "True Patriots who know how to die for their Country": The Difficulties of Charlotte Corday (Oxford Celebrity Research Network, Aug. 2014.

Conferences and workshops organised/co-organised

  • September 2017 - June 2018: 'Melodramatic Acting Traditions'; series of workshops held at Portchester Castle, the Georgian Theatre Royal, the University of Warwick, and FabLab Coventry, delivered to audiences including: BA and MA students; AS and A-Level Drama students; Local residents of North Yorkshire and Portchester; Teenagers belonging to the Adoption UK programme. Part of AHRC-funded 'Staging Napoleonic Theatre' project.
  • November 2015: ‘Difficult Women: 1680-1830’, two-day academic conference, co-organised with Jessica Clement, Anna Mercer and Elizabeth Spencer (University of York). Funded by Royal Historical Society, BSECS, CECS, and York’s Humanities Research Centre. Nov 2015.

Public talks and podcasts

  • ‘Napoleon’s Prisoners of War: Heroes or Villains?’ Talk co-delivered with Prof. Katherine Astbury, Pint of Science Festival, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry. May 2018
  • ‘Being Melodramatic with the Staging Napoleonic Theatre Team’. Invited speaker on US channel ‘Theater History Podcast’, Aug 2017.
  • ‘Murder by Women in Eighteenth-Century London and Paris’. Podacademy, May 2017 (host, interviewer and editor)

Media enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact our Press Office Team by emailling