Dr Sophie Duncan

Subject: English

College appointment: Dean for Welfare

Academic position: Research Fellow


I grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and was educated at the girls’ grammar school there. I read English at Oriel (BA, MSt) and Brasenose (DPhil) in the University of Oxford. After my doctorate, I lectured at St Catherine’s College and held a Supernumerary Fellowship at Harris Manchester College, and was then elected as a Calleva postdoc and Senior Demy at Magdalen.

From 2018, I was Career Development Fellow at Christ Church, where I taught Early Modern and Restoration literature, before rejoining Magdalen in 2022 to take up the new role of Research Fellow and Dean for Welfare. I have also held a visiting Fellowship at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice.

Throughout my academic career I have worked widely as a dramaturg and historical advisor in theatre, radio, and television, including for the BBC, the Kiln Theatre, the New Vic, and the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.

Research Interests

I have published widely in Shakespeare studies, where I have particular interests in the performance of race, gender and sexuality, in theatrical memory, and in the relationship between Shakespeare and other cultural phenomena. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, my books include Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siècle (OUP), Shakespeare’s Props: Memory and Cognition (Routledge), and the forthcoming Searching for Juliet: The Lives and Deaths of Shakespeare’s First Tragic Heroine, which will be published by Sceptre (UK) and Basic Books (USA) in 2023.

Beyond Shakespeare, I have edited two Ibsen editions – Ghosts and Hedda Gabler – for Methuen, and continue to research fin-de-siècle drama and its intersections with Shakespeare. In 2018, I was the National Trust’s academic lead on their year-long project Women and Power, marking the hundredth anniversary of some women achieving the right to vote in Britain.

Dean for Welfare

As Dean for Welfare, I have overall responsibility for Magdalen’s welfare provision, and also work alongside the Senior Dean to help any junior member in need of financial assistance. You can find out more about my welfare role on the College’s Welfare and Wellbeing page.