Dr Elizabeth Sandis BA MPhil DPhil (Oxon)

Dr Elizabeth Sandis

Shakespeare Institute
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Trained as a Classicist, I moved into early modern studies to pursue research interests in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century theatre, approaching the corpus of Renaissance plays from an interdisciplinary point of view. I am opening up the field of academic drama by translating and analysing Latin plays alongside their English counterparts, and I will be staging a selection of these with the Globe in 2018 and 2019. I recently co-edited a special issue of Renaissance Studies (see publications) and am currently working on a monograph on university drama as part of my Leverhulme-funded postdoctoral fellowship.


  • BA (Oxford, 2006)
  • MPhil (Oxford, 2011)
  • DPhil (Oxford, 2016)


In 2016 I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust to continue my research. I am delighted to have joined the Shakespeare Institute, where I will be a Fellow for the next three years.  

I have been based at the University of Oxford since 2001, completing degrees in different faculties (BA and MPhil in Classics; DPhil in English) and teaching various courses for undergraduates in colleges and mature students at the Ashmolean Museum. Whilst studying for my Master’s in Classics, I also completed modules from the English MSt (to qualify as an English candidate for the doctorate), supervised by Prof. Fiona Macintosh in the Classics Faculty and Prof. Richard McCabe in the English Faculty. My supervisors for the doctorate were Prof. Sir Jonathan Bate (Worcester College, Oxford) and Dr William Poole (New College, Oxford), and my examiners were Prof. Tiffany Stern (University College, Oxford) and Dr Martin Wiggins (The Shakespeare Institute). I also have a diploma in Modern Greek from the University of Athens thanks to a THYESPA Scholarship, and my undergraduate and postgraduate studies would not have been possible without the aid of scholarships from Worcester College, Oxford, Merton College, Oxford, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria (where I held a Visiting Fellowship in 2014) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, who awarded me full doctoral funding.

Between 2006 and 2009, before beginning postgraduate work, I ran the University of Oxford’s Classics Outreach Programme as its first full-time member of staff, teaching in schools and advising on access and admissions issues.


My research interests span the full corpus of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama, but I specialise in plays which bear witness to multilingual practices, Classical influences, the pedagogical functions of drama, and the relationships between educational institutions in early modern England.

I am particularly interested in adolescent writing, coming of age themes in school and university drama, systems of academic assessment in early modern schools and colleges, and the grammar play tradition. Probing archives and translating Latin sources, I employ my training as an early modernist and classicist to advance our understanding of the relationship between theatre, pedagogy, and institutional identity.

I am currently spearheading an exciting collaboration with two scholars from the Orationes Project in Finland: Tommi Alho (Åbo Akademi University), Aleksi Mäkilähde (University of Turku) and I are working together on an article which investigates the relationship between school plays and university plays in early modern England.

Over the next two years my focus will be on the political intrigues at the universities of England in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, illuminating the specific role played by theatre in that political context. The monograph I am currently drafting, University Drama Under the Stuarts, is designed to complement F.S. Boas’ indispensable study University Drama in the Tudor Age; it will give readers access to a synoptic analysis of key developments across the whole of the long seventeenth century. This monograph builds, in part, on my work as a member of the team for the Stuart Successions Project run by Professor Andrew McRae (University of Exeter) and Dr Paulina Kewes (Jesus College, Oxford).

I am currently acting as Academic Advisor to Shakespeare’s Globe, working on productions of university plays which are being staged in the Read Not Dead series. For details of our university drama project, please see the Globe website. We began the series on 15th September 2018 with a production of Samuel Daniel’s Arcadia Reformed (better known as The Queen’s Arcadia), staged in the original college venue where it premiered for Queen Anne in 1605: the dining hall at Christ Church, Oxford. 

Making the corpus of texts more accessible by translating and staging plays has always been an important part of my work. As an undergraduate I translated Euripides’ Hippolytus and took it on tour to Paris, narrowly escaping censure for disappearing from Oxford in termtime. Six sell-out shows followed at the Oxford Playhouse (in the role of Executive Producer), including three productions in ancient Greek as part of Oxford’s long-standing tradition. I have also worked for the Donmar Warehouse in London, translating extracts from Shakespeare into Latin to create a soundscape for their production of Coriolanus, which ran at Covent Garden from 6 December 2013 to 13 February 2014. In 2011 I was one of the founder members of Early Drama at Oxford (EDOX) with Elisabeth Dutton and James McBain, and in 2013 we co-organised the conference ‘Performing Dido’, which offered audiences the chance to compare and contrast William Gager’s Dido of 1583 (a Latin play which we staged in English using my translation) with Christopher Marlowe’s much more famous version, Dido, Queen of Carthage. See http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/arts-blog/night-dido-drama-and-dinner-difference. This project grew out of the research I had undertaken for a chapter of my doctoral thesis, which has now been published (see publications section). 

I have a proven track record in winning grants for my research, including full AHRC funding for my doctorate, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship.


View all publications in research portal