Current research

A number of departments are involved with the Society, Representation and Cultural Memory research theme at Royal Holloway. You can find out about the theme's current research projects and the academics involved below.

Research Theme Reid Scholarship holder 2013/14:

James Cutler

Supervisors: Professor Barry Langford (Media Arts) and Professor Juliet John (English).

Remembering the Victorians: Cultural Legacy, Place and Popularity.

Working at the intersection between Victorian literature and culture, and studies of adaptation, place, cultural memory, and heritage/ tourism, the thesis investigates the crucial relationship between place and enduring cultural legacy and popularity in Victorian literary texts. 

It identifies Dickens, the Brontes, and Hardy as the Victorian novelists with the greatest popular legacy, seeking to demonstrate that legacy and popularity are catalysed by certain textual aesthetics of place (a response to Victorian anxieties about modernity and progress), and sustained and mythologised by the heritage and screen industries; both of which have resulted in place dominating contemporary memories of the Victorians.

Find out more about the Research Theme Reid Scholarships.


Within the Department of History, The Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture looks at the transmission of values through, for example, practices of eating and drinking, treating ill health and collecting postcards.

Headed by Professor Sandra Cavallo, who specialises in the social and cultural history of early modern Italy, the Centre focuses on the history of bodies and their material dimensions. This includes studying the changing relationship between the body and the surrounding material world from Antiquity to the modern day. 

It launched in autumn 2010 to bring together scholars of health and intimacy, politics and identity, consumption and urban planning, and visual and material culture with the intention of promoting intellectual exchange and collaboration in this field.

Drama and Theatre

Within the Department of Drama and Theatre,  The Centre for International Theatre & Performance Research  examines, for example, how memories of indigeneity are created (and forgotten) through contemporary performance.

Established in 2009 and headed by Professor of Theatre Helen Gilbert , the Centre is a key feature of the Department's research strategy.

It fosters research across a range of political, geographic, historical and methodological spheres to advance cutting-edge thought on theatre and performance topics with an international slant.

Areas of focus include postcolonial, cross-cultural and intercultural performance, Asian theatre and performance and politics in contemporary Australia, to name just a few.


Within the Department of English, Judith Hawley and Elaine McGirr have examined the enactment of 18th century private theatricals in the contemporary context of The National Trust.

Since June 2011, both English lecturers have headed a network of researchers, practitioners and heritage stakeholders with an interest in non-professional performance during the 18th century.

As part of this, they have so far held three conferences to discuss the relationships between audiences and performers, between 18th and 19th century practices and cultures as well as the politics of amateur performance at all social levels – elite private theatricals, bourgeois parlour drama and artisanal elocution associations.

Dr Christie Carson, reader in Shakespeare and Performance, is currently co-ordinating the Shakespeare Beyond English research project.  She is currently editing a book for the Cambridge United Press on this project, which discusses, analyses and responds to the Globe to Globe Festival. This saw 37 productions of Shakespeare's plays in 37 different languages take place over a six week period.

School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Within the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Professor Colin Davis, from the Holocaust Research Centre, is heading up a seminar series entitled Trauma Fiction History.

These seminars, which have been conducted in French, Spanish, German and Italian, explore the notion of trauma across a wide chronological range. There have also been speakers from History and English departments discussing literature, philosophy, film and theatre studies.

Media Arts

Within the Department of Media Arts, Professor John Ellis has recently been granted funding by the European Research Council for a new five year project. It is entitled ADAPT: The Adoption of New Technological Arrays in the Production of Broadcast Television.


Within the Department of Geography, a collaborative project entitled Curating the Global City with the Museum of London has examined the curating of urban history.

This research project is led by Geography head of department Professor David Gilbert  who specialises in social and cultural geography.

Themes of this AHRC funded project include London's position in relation to the geographies of imperalism, the development of suburbia and it's cultural geographies, religion in London and it's distinctive fashion cultures.


 Professor Michael Spagat, a professor of Economics at Royal Holloway, is currently a consultant on Oxford Research Group’s Every Casualty programme. This initiative draws on the principles of human security to define and enhance the ways in which casualties of war are recorded. 

It aims to record the details of every single victim of armed conflict worldwide through researching emerging good practice, existing legal frameworks and the creation and support of advocacy networks.

Royal Holloway, University of London logo