Sarah Carpenter

Honorary Fellow


Dr Sarah Carpenter took a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, followed by a PhD on Tudor allegorical theatre. She then taught in the English department at Exeter University before joining the department at Edinburgh in 1976. She has interests in drama and in the medieval and Tudor periods, teaching courses in medieval English and Scots literature, and in drama and theatre history. During her time at Edinburgh she has worked widely in student support, curriculum development and teaching practice, and was head of department 2003-2006. She is an editor of the journal Medieval English Theatre, and has published books and articles on early theatre, performance, staging, political and cultural issues.

Undergraduate teaching

Courses previously taught:

  • The Field Full of Folk: the medieval imagination of the world
  • Shakespeare's Comedies: Identity and Illusion
  • Medieval Dream Literature
  • Naturalist Theatre 1880-1920
  • English Literature 1
  • Scottish Literature 1

Postgraduate teaching

Courses previously taught:

  • Reading the Middle Ages (MSc)
  • Working with Pre-Modern Manuscripts (MSc)

Research summary

Sarah’s main areas of research are in medieval and sixteenth century drama, focusing especially on the material and performance aspects of theatre and on its cultural contexts. Her last major project was on masks and masking traditions in the medieval and Tudor periods, exploring popular and courtly masking games, carnival and masking theories as well as drama and literary representations. She has worked on medieval and early modern traditions of folly, on courtly performance traditions, and is currently editing the Records of Early Drama: Scotland volume on The Royal Court.

Sarah welcomes research proposals in any area of medieval English or Scottish literature, but especially in aspects of medieval and early modern drama, performance and theatre history. She has supervised PhD theses on, among others: the medieval practice of reading aloud; Jacobean theatre and the drama of the 1960s; representations of Jews in medieval miracle tales; subjectivity and images of the mirror in Chaucer and Shakespeare; colour and costume in medieval romance.


Project activity

She is currently leading a study of performance activity at the Royal Court of Scotland before 1650, investigating the cultural, political and social functions of court performance.

View all 25 publications on Research Explorer