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Michelle O'Callaghan

photograph of Michelle Ocallaghan


Early Modern Literature

  • Head of Department


EM 109

Building location

Edith Morley

Areas of interest

My primary research interest is early modern literature and culture, including literature and politics, print and manuscript culture, literature and sociability, pastoral, satire, and travel-writing.


Within the department I convene modules in:

  • Renaissance Texts and Cultures
  • Renaissance Women's Writing

I also contribute to courses in:

  • Genre and Context: The Renaissance Stage
  • Poetry in English

Research centres and groups

Early Modern Research Centre 

Research projects

I research and publish on a range of topics in early modern literature and culture. My first two books, The Shepheards Nation: Jacobean Spenserians and Early Stuart Political Culture (Oxford, 2000) and The English Wits: Literature and Sociability in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2007), were interested in how different early modern communities used literature to shape identities and for political ends, and looked in particular at practices of collaboration. My most recent book, Thomas Middleton, Renaissance Dramatist (Edinburgh, 2007), explores Middleton's inventive use of stagecraft in relation to early modern forms of wit. I am also part of the Early Modern Women's Research Network  which brings together academics in Australia, UK, and the States. 

Editing has been a developing area of research for me, particularly in relation to the new technologies.  I have recently produced a searchable digital edition of selected verse miscellanies printed in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Verse Miscellanies Online. These verse miscellanies or poetry anthologies helped to shape the history of English poetry. They can tell us much about how literary tastes developed and changed over the course of the English Renaissance and the growth of the book trade. Work on this digital edition began in March 2011 funded by a British Academy Research Development Award, and has involved collaboration with various bodies, including the Bodleian Digital Library, Oxford University Computing Services, and the Digital Humanities Department at King's College, London. I am currently working on a book project to accompany the digital edition, provisionally entitled, Making Poetry: Print Culture and the Verse Miscellany in Renaissance England

I am the director of the Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC), a very active international centre for early modern studies. The EMRC hosts a very popular annual international and interdisciplinary conference each July, as well as a range of other events, and also hosts various research projects. To see who else is involved in the EMRC, the research that we do, and the events that we host, please visit the Centre's website, where you can find details of current and past conferences, events, research activities, and opportunities for postgraduate study.

I convene and teach undergraduate modules in early modern literature and drama and convene the MA (Res) in Early Modern Literature and Drama. I have supervised dissertations on a range of early modern topics, and welcome enquiries from those interested in pursuing early modern studies at postgraduate level.


  • Smith, R. , O'Callaghan, M. , Ross, S. (2018) Complaint. In: Bates, C. , (eds.) A Companion to Renaissance Poetry. Wiley Blackwell , Oxford. pp. 339-352. ISBN: 9781118585191
  • O'Callaghan, M. (2018) Verse satire. In: Bates, C. , (eds.) A Companion to Renaissance Poetry. Wiley Blackwell , Oxford. pp. 389-400. ISBN: 9781118585191