School of English


MA (Hons), Glasgow; MA, PhD, Nottingham

I joined the University of Kent in 2013 from the University of Nottingham, where I was Teaching Associate in Medieval Literature. My research into pre-Shakespearean drama and performance focuses on questions of space, place and embodiment. This has led to articles and essays on movement, bodily experience and memory, site-specificity and cognition, but has also brought me to think further about early drama’s generic connections with other performance practices across pre-modern British culture, and what that suggests about how they were conceptualised. If plays were not understood as completely distinct from liturgy, piety, games, poetry, music and pageantry, how did that affect the way that their performers and audiences perceived the basic principles of play? Did they, like us, think about it in terms of fiction, illusion and play worlds, or were there other paradigms at work? If there were, how did they shape drama and how might acknowledging them affect the ways that we analyse and perform early plays, and how we write the early history of ‘theatre’ in Britain?

Current Projects:

  • Records of Early English Drama: Patrons & Performances: I am venues researcher on this project which is based at the University of Toronto. I am currently working with colleagues at De Montfort and Southampton to develop a postgraduate student consortium to investigate performance venues in England. The Patrons & Performances site includes a wide range of data about medieval and early modern performers on tour in Britain – their patrons, the performance venues they used and the routes they took across the country. The project played a central part in the BBC’s recent Shakespeare on Tour.
  • Paradigms of Play: Conceptualising Early English Performance, c.1400-1600. I am working with Dr Stephen Purcell at the University of Warwick on this project, which revises the conceptual lens through which pre-modern drama is currently perceived, analysed and performed. It explores the basic conceptual frameworks that underpinned and governed early drama’s characteristic devices and strategies, what Phillip Butterworth has called the ‘shared theatrical terms of reference between those who put on the work and those who witnessed it’. Currently, early drama’s ‘shared theatrical terms of reference’ are assumed to be much like our own, premised broadly on the relationship and tensions between illusion and reality, a play world and a real world. This model of dramatic purpose is, however, influenced by forms of drama established in the late-nineteenth century. This project seeks to recover pre-modern paradigms of play, resituating early drama within the broader performance culture and exploring through performance how acknowledging them might change the way we think of, analyse, historicise and perform plays from the late-medieval and early modern period.
  • Liminal Time and Space in Medieval and Early Modern Performance: I am co-editing with Sarah Dustagheer a collection of essays that builds on our recent conference at the University of Kent. The collection is consciously interdisciplinary and cross-period, bringing together scholars working on medieval and early modern performance in its broadest sense.
  • Early English Drama and Performance Network: I founded the network in 2013 as an international hub for researchers, students and practitioners working with medieval and early modern drama and performance. The site encourages cross-disciplinary, cross-period dialogue and works especially towards connecting and supporting postgraduates and early career researchers in the field. To this end, we run an annual postgraduate symposium in the UK which coincides with the Medieval English Theatre meeting.

Contact Information


Office: W4.E2 (Rutherford)

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Book section
Wright, C. (2016). Enculturated, Embodied, Social : Medieval Drama and Cognitive Integration. in: Anderson, M. and Wheeler, M. eds. The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition: from Medieval to Renaissance. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.
Wright, C. (2014). Body, Site and Memory in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament. in: Bennett, S. and Polito, M. eds. Performing Environments: Site-Specificty in Medieval and Early Modern English Drama. Basingstoke, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 159-179. Available at:
Wright, C. (2012). Henry Medwall, Fulgens and Lucres. in: Betteridge, T. and Walker, G. eds. The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 177-191.
Wright, C. (2016). Ontologies of Play: Reconstructing the Relationship between Audience and Act in Early English Drama. Shakespeare Bulletin [Online] 35:187-206. Available at:
Wright, C. (2012). Acoustic Tyranny: Metre, Alliteration and Voice in York's Christ before Herod'. Medieval English Theare 34:3-29.
Wright, C. (2014). The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555-1575: Religion, Drama, and the Impact of Change. Early Theatre [Online]:197-201. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 6 [See all in KAR]
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Research Interests

  • Medieval and Tudor drama in Britain – especially biblical plays, saints’ and miracle plays, allegorical drama and interludes.
  • Pre-modern performance culture and performative practices – liturgy, piety and devotion, civic and royal pageantry, games, poetry and music; performance techniques and methods; production contexts; cultural contexts for performance.
  • Space, place and site-specificity – pre-playhouse performance spaces and venues, how they were used and how performances were adapted to make the most of them; how they shaped performance and affected the meanings created; how performance affected them.
  • The Body and the senses; embodied cognition; distributed cognition – how pre-modern plays capitalise on bodily action, sensation, and embodied interaction; how performance links with bodily practices beyond the theatrical frame; cognition as embodied, situated and enculturated.
  • Theatre History – pre-Shakespearean drama and performance; alternative histories of performance in Britain.
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Professional activities

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School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 07/09/2017