Hello! I’m Dr Sophie Duncan, and I’m an academic based at the Calleva Centre, Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where I research Shakespeare in performance, cognition, Victorian literature, and audience psychology. My first book, Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siecle, is out now from Oxford University Press! My new projects include work on props and cognition and on Oscar Wilde. I teach broadly from the Renaissance to the present day. If you want to hear me talking about my research, why not listen to my episode of The Essay on BBC Radio Three? It’s about Shakespeare and the suffragettes. For something completely different, here I am talking about why tragedy is good for you (spoiler: endorphins) on the BBC World Service. And if you want to read the science-article-version (open access hurrah), it’s here.
I’m also a dramaturg and historical advisor. I have a longstanding involvement with Lolita Chakrabarti’s award-winning Red Velvet, directed by Indhu Rubasingham. You can read about my work on the production here. I’ve worked with/for/on the following: BBC Radio 4, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, BBC1, New Vic Theatre, Jermyn Street, and BBC Radio 3.
I broadcast and give talks regularly on all aspects of my work, and also on feminist issues and Oxbridge life. I’m always looking for new collaborations – get in touch!
Having sustained a professional veneer thus far, I should add that I can’t drive, cook, ride a bicycle, sew on a button or rewire a plug (my wife can), but that I’m immensely good at seeing theatre for free and having opinions about cross-gender casting. I look soulful in the photo because it’s a selfie, I was once allowed to bid Magdalen College’s money on Oscar Wilde ephemera and stayed in budget, and I still get ID’d in pubs. My Mastermind subject would either be the life and times of Ellen Terry or detective novels set in Oxford. I think ‘bad quarto’ is an excellent description of the Q1 Hamlet, I prefer Hamburg to Berlin and I’m an advocate of single-sex schools. I’m currently supervising a dissertation on stand-up comedy. I used to value antiquarian books for Oxfam. My absolute hot-button frothing-with-rage political issue is foxhunting; even typing the word makes me angry. This paragraph is the paragraph I change most often. Nancy is my favourite Mitford.