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Dr Molly Ziegler

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined The Open University in 2020 as a Lecturer in Drama and Performance Studies, specialising in early modern English theatre, c.1500-1700. Prior to coming to the OU, I gained my BA in theatre and psychology from Saint Michael's College (Colchester, Vermont) and completed my MLitt and PhD in theatre studies at the University of Glasgow. I have taught theatre and English literature at the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Universities' International Summer School. Outside of academia, I have served as a dramaturg for work performed at the Citizens Theatre (Glasgow) and the Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), and have written performance pieces staged at the Tron Theatre (Glasgow) and for the 2016 Shakespeare 400 Dream On! Festival.

Research interests

My current research focuses on English literature, drama and theatre from the early modern period. My PhD thesis, 'Staging Madness: Representations of Madness on the Early Modern English Stage', examines how Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights portrayed mad characters and tropes and how these portrayals helped shape early modern understandings of madness. This project engages with the works of Shakespeare, John Webster, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker (among others). Publications arising from this work include:

  • ''For Fear to be Infect': Reading the Female Body in Early Modern Revenge Drama', in the Journal of Early Modern Studies special issue 'Early modern European Crime Literature: Ideology, Emotions and Social Norms' (2021): This article examines the ways in which female bodies and identities are employed as instruments of vengeance in dramatic depictions of female revengers.
  • 'The Spectacular Mad: Tracing the 'Theatrical' Bethlem in Early Modern Antitheatricalist Writings' (forthcoming): This article examines antitheatricalist pamphlets and writings during the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, ultimately arguing that the language used within this literature contributes to a misconstruing of Bethlem as a site of entertainment.

This attention to madness has extended my research into the field of medical humanities, and I am currently undertaking research for an upcoming monograph on how discourses on disease and infection intersect with early modern English writing and theatrical practices. I also have a forthcoming review of Sandra Young's Shakespeare in the Global South: Stories of Oceans Crossed in Contemporary Adaptation (2019) to be published in the Scottish Journal of Performance (7:1).

I am a member of the OU Medieval and Early Modern Research Group (MEM) and The Centre for Research into Gender and Otherness in the Humanities (GOTH).

I welcome applications from PhD candidates proposing to undertake work on early modern English literature and performance.

Teaching interests

I currently teach on the following modules:

  • A233: Telling Stories: The Novel and Beyond.
  • A334: English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen

I also serve as the assistant postgraduate convenor (2020-present).

Impact and engagement

  • 2020: Pandemic Production: Making 'Live' Theatre during COVID-19
    • This project examines how theatre makers' practices have been influenced by the COVID-19 crisis. It explores how notions of liveness are affected by the transition from in-house, in-person performances to digital broadcast work. The project consists of a four-part online seminar series, with each session featuring two industry professionals in conversation with myself. The sessions focus on different aspects of theatre-making during COVID-19, including: performing outdoors, creating and performing during COVID-19, digital programming, and community/educational theatre
  • 2019: Incubate-Propagate Research Network
    • Funded by the AHRC, this project explored alternative models for artist development in theatre and performance. I served as a member of the research team under Principal Investigator, Professor Elizabeth Tomlin.
  • 2016: Shakespeare 400 Dream On! Festival
    • This event brough together teams from the University of Glasgow, Glasgow School of Art, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to create a BBC-streamed student performance in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. I served as supervisor and liaison for University of Glasgow MLitt Theatre Studies students.
  • 2016: Let Her Come In (playwright and director)
    • This project explored contemporary dramaturgical approaches for writing and staging madness in Shakespearean stage adaptations. It was performed as part of the British Shakespeare Association-funded Shakespeare and Disability Symposium, and in partnership with University of Glasgow Theatre Studies and the 2016 Shakespeare 400 Festival.
  • 2016: Shakespeare 400 Flickr Collection
    • This project consisted of an online photograph collection of items relating to Shakespeare 400 from the University of Glasgow Library Special Collections. The items included posters, scripts, advertisements, books and production materials from 20th/21st century Shakespearean stage adaptations.


‘For Fear to Be Infect’: Reading the Female Body in Early Modern Revenge Drama (2021-03-15)
Ziegler, Molly
Journal of Early Modern Studies, 10 (pp. 249-268)