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Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Professor Barbara Ravelhofer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42590
Room number: Room 103, Hallgarth House
Associate Director (Research) in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Contact Professor Barbara Ravelhofer


Barbara Ravelhofer is Professor in English Literature at Durham and a Research Associate of the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge. After a degree in English and German Literature from the University of Munich she continued for her Ph.D. at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College. She has also held Visiting Fellowships at the Universities of Bologna, Princeton, and Harvard.


Apart from her general interest in English Literature and Renaissance Studies, Prof. Ravelhofer has written on European spectacle from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, editing and book history in comparative perspective, as well as oral forms of literature. Her edition of the French dance treatise Louange de la danse (2000) explores the life and professional practices of dancers and musicians in early modern London and Paris. Her book The Early Stuart Masque: Dance, Costume, and Music (2006) studies illusionistic theatre of the Renaissance. Drawing on a massive amount of documentary evidence relating to English productions as well as spectacle in France, Italy, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, the book elucidates professional ballet, theatre management, and dramatic performance at the early Stuart court. Currently she is working on a book about English court theatre, iconoclasm and the dawn of the Civil War. 

Prof. Ravelhofer would welcome students with research interests in early modern English literature and comparative literature, as well as medieval and Renaissance dance, costume, and drama.

Current Projects

Records of Early English Drama North-East
Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

REED-NE aims to find, catalogue and edit all records pertaining to music, spectacle, ceremony, dance and theatre in England's North-East from about the ninth century to 1642. Funded by the AHRC for the period 2013-18, the project is directed by Prof. John McKinnell (PI) and Prof. Ravelhofer (Co-I) in collaboration with the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) Durham, the Cathedral and Durham's World Heritage Site. Our team comprises editors from the UK, US and Canada, two postdoctoral researchers, and two PhD students, and we coordinate our activities with the REED headquarters at the University of Toronto. For further details see the project website.

The Complete Works of James Shirley (OUP)
Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

James Shirley (1596-1666) is a Caroline writer in the tradition of the great Elizabethans and Jacobeans. An innovative dramatist specializing in tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, masque, pastoral, entertainment, morality, and neo-miracle, Shirley wrote for a wide variety of theatres, ranging from the Blackfriars to the first public playhouse in Dublin, but he also composed poems and grammars. Shirley’s strong female characters prepared the ground for women on the Restoration stage. Critics still appreciate his elegant craftsmanship, his fast-paced, witty dialogues, and his detached portrayal of social manners. The Complete Works of James Shirley will comprise a corpus of around 50 works in 10 volumes, including plays, poems, and prose. The project is jointly directed by Prof. Eugene Giddens, Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Teresa Grant, University of Warwick, and Prof. Ravelhofer. It currently involves over thirty scholars from the UK, US, Germany, and South Africa. The Complete Works of James Shirley has had initial support from the British Academy. A major AHRC research grant (Principal Investigator: Prof. Ravelhofer) funded ongoing work on an old-spelling online edition as well as the OUP modern-spelling edition of Shirley's oeuvre. For details see the project website.

Review Articles

Barbara Ravelhofer has written many review articles in: Renaissance Quarterly, The Seventeenth Century, Kritikon, Internationales Archiv f. Sozialgeschichte der Literatur (IASL) and Atlantic Studies.

Research Groups

  • Editing, Bibliography and History of the Book
  • European Frontiers
  • Renaissance Studies
  • Romantic and Pre-Romantic Studies

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

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