Dr Charlotte Steenbrugge


Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA


I joined the School of English as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in October 2015, starting a project entitled Sceptical Readings of Medieval English Literature. I was previously a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Universities of Bristol and Toronto, working on the relationship between medieval English drama and sermons.

While at Toronto I was actively involved with PLS and directed the Middle Dutch play Lanseloet van Denemerken. Before going to Canada, I lectured at Bangor University, New College, Oxford, and the University of Southampton. I completed my doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2009 and my thesis was published as a monograph, Staging Vice: A Study of Dramatic Traditions in Medieval and Sixteenth-Century England and the Low Countries, by Brill/Rodopi in 2014.


My main research interest is medieval English drama, but I have done research on early modern theatre, medieval and sixteenth-century Dutch and French drama, and non-dramatic medieval literature. For my current project I aim to show, using historical evidence of religious scepticism in the Middle Ages, that doubts and incredulity have left significant traces in medieval texts, and that to ignore them would be to misconstrue and misunderstand these texts and their society.

This study will therefore open up a new avenue of research into well-known medieval texts, transforming not only how we read these texts, but even how we view the Middle Ages.

My previous research project addressed the interrelation between sermons and vernacular drama in late medieval England from a variety of angles in order to provide a thorough, innovative, and comprehensive study.

I investigated how sermons and plays were used as media for public learning, how they combine this didactic aim with literary exigencies, and how the plays, in particular, acquired and reflected a position of authority and whether this brought them in conflict with sermons, the official channel of ecclesiastical instruction. Contrary to widespread assumptions, I argue that drama developed and flourished independent of sermon influence and had considerably different didactic aims to sermons.

My PhD dissertation assessed the importance of negative characters, and especially of the Vice and the sinnekens, for our understanding of medieval and sixteenth-century English and Dutch drama by charting diachronic developments and through synchronic comparisons. The analysis of the functions, as well as theatrical and meta-theatrical aspects of these characters, reveals how these plays were conditioned by their literary and social setting.

It sheds light on the subtly divergent appreciation of the concept of drama in these two regions and on their different use of drama as a didactic tool. In a wider perspective, I also investigated how the plays and their negative characters reflect the changes in the intellectual and religious climate of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.


I mainly teach on medieval literature and language, including:

  • ELL118 Early Englishes
  • ELL225 Exiles and Monsters: An Introduction to Old English
  • LIT277 Chaucer

I also supervise undergraduate dissertations on medieval and non-medieval topics.

At MA level, I convene and/or teach on various modules, including:

  • EGH602 Research Methods in English Studies
  • EGH6023 Reconsidering the Renaissance
  • IPA665 Cities and Culture in Medieval Europe, 1250-1550


I welcome PhD applicants who wish to undertake research in all areas of medieval literature, but particularly medieval drama. I am currently supervising PhD students working on Le Roman des Sept Sages and the Manieres de langage.


  • Drama and Sermon in Late Medieval England: Performance, Authority, Devotion (EDAM; Medieval Institute Publications, 2017)
  • Staging Vice: A Study of Dramatic Traditions in Medieval and Sixteenth-Century England and the Low Countries (LUDUS; Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014)
Selected journal articles and book chapters
  • A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Audience Responses’ – European Medieval Drama 21 (2017), 67-83.
  • ‘Playing for Emotion: Middle English Abraham and Isaac Plays’, in Emotions and Medieval Textual Media, edited by Mary Flannery (Brepols, 2018), pp. 215-237.
  • Morality Plays and the Aftermath of Arundel’s Constitutions’, in The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance, edited by Pamela M. King (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017), pp. 205-220
  • “i speke so miche to ȝow’: Authority, didacticism, and audience address in Middle English sermons and morality plays’, Medieval English Theatre 38 (2016), 84-99
  • ‘Preaching Penance on the Stage: The Case of John the Baptist’, in Staging Scripture: BiblicalDrama, 1350-1600, edited by Peter Happé and Wim Hüsken (Amsterdam: Brill/Rodopi, 2016), pp. 149-165
  • ‘Presenters in N-Town: ‘We asygne it to ȝoure good deliberation”, European Medieval Drama 16 (2012 for 2015), 53-67
  • ‘Time and Authority in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls’, in Chaucer’s Poetry: Words, authority and ethics, edited by Clíodhna Carney and Frances McCormack (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013), pp. 121-133
  • ‘Books of Accounts in Everyman and Elckerlijc’, Medieval English Theatre 33 (2011), 19-44
  • “Haro! Haro! Sus, dyablerie’: The Theatricality of Devils in Temptation Sequences’, in Les Mystères: Studies in Text, Theatricality and Urban Drama, edited by Peter Happé and Wim Hüsken (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 7-33
  • “O, yowr louely wordys’: Latin and Latinate Diction in Mankind’, Medieval English Theatre 31 (2009), 28-56
  • ‘Jan Smeeken: Sinnekens and Devils’, European Medieval Drama 12 (2008), 49-66 – awarded Prize for Best Postgraduate Essay by the Association for Low Countries Studies

‘Everyman’, in Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature, ed. by Andrew Hadfield 
<http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/browse?module_0=obo-9780199846719> (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Editorial work

Cultures of Compunction in the Medieval World: Emotion, Contrition and Penitence in the Middle Ages (IBTauris, under contract) - with Dr Graham Williams

‘Love and Romance in Early Drama’ Research on Medieval and Renaissance Drama 54 (2015) – guest editor with Professor Alexandra F. Johnston

Staging experience

Director, The Farce of the Fisherman, Nicosia Medieval Festival (Nicosia, 2018), DINA (Sheffield, 2018)

Director, The Northampton Abraham and Isaac, Drama Studio (Sheffield, 2016)

Director, Rules of Love (Lancelot of Denmark), Poculi Ludique Societas (Toronto, 2014)

Assistant Director, A Medieval Christmas: Such Splendid Sight Was Never Seen, Poculi Ludique Societas (Toronto, 2013)