Modern English Literature (16th - 18th Centuries)

Charlotte POTTER

Dr Charlotte POTTER

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

+41 22 379 70 34

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I am joining the department this Autumn (2023) as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Shakespeare’s Lyric Poetry project, led by Prof Lukas Erne and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

I completed my AHRC-funded PhD in English Literature at the University of Sussex in 2022, with a thesis entitled ‘Unfixed Virginity: Metaphor and Defloration in Early Modern Drama’. I also hold an MPhil in Renaissance Literature from Newnham College, Cambridge (2017), and an MA in English Literature from the University of St Andrews (2015). My thesis explored the relationship between metaphor and virginity in early modern culture, with a focus on Shakespearean drama. It argued that virginity was an inherently destabilizing and imaginative concept, and that writers, especially playwrights, capitalise on this instability in their plays. I develop an account of virginity as ‘unfixed’ by examining puzzling and paradoxical examples from Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V, as well as Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling. My approach of ‘unfixed virginity’ reflects how virginity was circulating at a broad imaginative level across culture, a metaphorical concept produced within a patriarchal social context. I am currently developing the thesis into a monograph, and look forward to teaching an MA seminar in Spring 2024 based on this research. My current research builds on my doctoral work to take my theory of ‘unfixed virginity’ beyond analysis of female virginity in Shakespeare’s plays to early modern poetry more broadly.


‘Shakespeare’s reading audiences: Early modern books and audience interpretation’, Textual Practice, 32.4 (2018), 729-32, DOI:10.1080/0950236X.2018.1447426


I am passionate about engaging with wider audiences beyond academia. In 2019 I was the Impact and Engagement Co-ordinator for the Beware the Cat project, which adapted William Baldwin’s 1561 text for an interactive, multimedia stage performance. In 2021 I was a researcher for the hit BBC Radio 4 history podcast, You’re Dead to Me. I also have experience organising conferences, including a public symposium on women in academia in St Andrews in 2015.


‘Juliet’s Recycled Virginity: the significance of the dawn in Romeo and Juliet’, Beginnings in Early Modern Culture Symposium, University of Sussex, June 7, 2022

‘400 years of eggs and female sexuality: from Jan Steen to Sarah Lucas’, English           Graduate Seminar, University of Sussex, April 13, 2019

‘The poetics of virginity and its loss in All’s Well that Ends Well and The Changeling’, Seduction Conference, University of Edinburgh, November 15-16, 2018

‘Hugh Latimer’s Sermon on the Plough and the “saffron bag” metaphor’, Early Modern Sermons Conference, University of Sheffield, November 2, 2018

‘“Too cold a companion” or “The dear companion of mu soul”?: Personified forms of virginity in All’s Well that Ends Well and The Changeling’, Personification Across Disciplines Conference, Durham University, September 17-19, 2018

Modern English Literature (16th - 18th Centuries)