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Durham University

Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Subscribe to our monthly North East Literature Events newsletter and we'll keep you posted. If you are a staff member or student and want to publicise your event, contact

Late Summer Lectures 2020

Angels and Armed Women

9th September 2020, 17:30 to 19:00, Online (Zoom), Dr Sarah Burdett (University of Warwick) and Caitlin Rankin-McCabe (Durham University)

In this Late Summer lecture, two speakers will share their research on the diverse depictions of women's and angel's bodies as seen on the British stage during the French Revolution and in the early modern literature of writers such as William Shakespeare, John Milton, and John Donne.

The Actress’s Body in the Audience’s Mind: Receptions of Armed Women in the British Theatre, 1789-1815

Dr Sarah Burdett (University of Warwick)

In the period of the French Revolution, the arms-bearing woman came to stand in Britain as a representative of extreme political and social disruption. Magnifying heroines who appear on stage brandishing daggers, and even firing explosives, this lecture makes a case for viewing the British theatre as an arena in which the significance of the armed woman is constantly re-modelled and re-appropriated to fulfil diverse ideological functions.

‘Banish the body from your mind’: Bodiless Angels in the Early Modern Imagination

Caitlin Rankin-McCabe (Durham University)

The existence of angels in early modern England was undisputed. However, people’s understanding of angels was certainly not clear or uniform. As idolatrous images of the Virgin Mary, saints and angels were taken down and removed from churches across England, how were writers responding to this removal of visual representation?

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