Dr Robert Stagg

Dr Robert Stagg

Shakespeare Institute
Leverhulme Research Fellow

Contact details

The Shakespeare Institute
Mason Croft
Church Street
CV37 6HP

I am a Shakespearean and early modernist whose principal research interests are in literary form, ranging from versification (rhyme, metre, rhythm) to verse structures (blank verse, the sonnet).


  • BA Cambridge
  • MSt Oxford
  • PhD Soton / London


I have joined the Shakespeare Institute from the University of Oxford for a three-year Leverhulme Early-Career Research Fellowship, during which I hope to finish two books (one about Shakespeare and blank verse, one about sex and sonnet form). I was an undergraduate at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a masters student at Exeter College, Oxford, where I won the longstanding Charles Oldham Shakespeare Prize for best postgraduate work on a subject pertaining to Shakespeare. I then took up a Wolfson-funded PhD at the University of Southampton with associate status at the University of London (where I was a Wolfson Postgraduate Scholar in the Humanities), which I finished in 2018.

During my Leverhulme fellowship, I will continue as a Senior Member of St Anne’s College, Oxford, where I co-organise (with the Oxford Centre for Early Modern Studies) the Plumer Visiting Fellowships in Early Modern English Literature and the forthcoming Michael Dillon LGBT+ Lectures. I am now approaching the end of a stint as Oxford’s Junior Pro-Proctor, a position that involves lots of camp costumes and little of anything else.

I have been awarded various research fellowships including a Berlin Sessions Visiting Fellowship in (unsurprisingly) Berlin (2020); a Pforzheimer Visiting Research Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas (2019); a Wolfson Visiting Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library (2017); a Tom Jarman Research Fellowship at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden (2017); and a Jubilee Education Fund grant to research in the Royal Shakespeare Company archives in Stratford-upon-Avon (2015).


Robert talks about his ‘Shakespeare’s Blank Verse: An Alternative History’ project for the 'St Anne's Online' series

I am writing a book about Shakespeare's blank verse; its provisional title is ‘Shakespeare’s Blank Verse: An Alternative History’. 

I have articles published or forthcoming in Shakespeare Survey (on supernatural metre), Essays in Criticism (on bathos) and Studies in Philology (on feminine rhyme). I also have a couple of articles presently under consideration at major journals (one is about Shakespearean 'bombast', the other about Ben Jonson and Coriolanus). I have published peer-reviewed chapters in two edited collections, The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music (ed. Delia da Sousa Correa) and Reading the Road: Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways (ed. Lisa Hopkins and William Angus). The first is a short polemic against the notion of a 'music of poetry', and the second is about the problem of representing pedestrian travel onstage. I have been commissioned to write two further chapters for edited collections, one on Philip Sidney and quantitative verse (for The Oxford Handbook of Philip Sidney, ed. Catherine Bates) and one on versification and the humors (for Rethinking the Humors, ed. Kaara Peterson and Amy Kenny). I sometimes review new books on Shakespeare and early modern literature for The Times Literary Supplement.

This work has been supported by major (1-3 year) research funding from the Leverhulme Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Toward the end of my Leverhulme fellowship, I hope to finish another book – this time about the sexuality of sonnet form in the Elizabethan period.


Recent publications


Stagg, R 2021, 'Shakespeare's bombastic blanks', The Review of English Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgab031

Stagg, R 2020, 'Rhyme's voices: hearing gender in 'The Taming of the Shrew'', Studies in Philology.

Stagg, R 2018, 'Shakespeare's Bewitching Line', Shakespeare Survey, vol. 71.

Stagg, R 2014, 'Wordsworth, Pope, and writing after bathos', Essays in Criticism, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 29-44. https://doi.org/10.1093/escrit/cgt030

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Stagg, R 2020, Against "the music of poetry". in D da Sousa Correa (ed.), The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music. Edinburgh University Press.

Stagg, R 2019, Staging the road: walking, talking, footing. in L Hopkins & B Angus (eds), Reading the Road, from Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways. Edinburgh University Press.

View all publications in research portal


Shakespeare’s ‘style’: language, metre, etc.

Languages and other information

French, Spanish

Media experience

I have written, produced and presented a fully-funded feature-length documentary about Shakespeare's early career in Shoreditch ('Shoreditch: Shakespeare's Hidden London'). You can watch some clips from the documentary.