Professor Emma Smith

Fandom, women and the Shakespearean theatre

Engaging with the Humanities: Prof. Emma Smith

The beginnings of a celebrity or star culture in the theatre of Shakespeare’s time.

How many women went to Shakespeare’s plays? This talk explores the evidence and significance of female theatre going in the early modern period. 

Professor Smith will discuss the beginnings of a celebrity or star culture in the theatre of Shakespeare’s time, discussing notable actors and, in particular, their appeal to women spectators. She'll look at the evidence, often negative and satirical, about how women at the theatre were perceived, and trace their changing place in audiences as theatre went upmarket in the seventeenth century. Drawing on histories of consumerism and of celebrity, Smith will identify women theatregoers as crucial to the development of the playhouses within the early modern experience economy.

Professor Smith has been a Fellow of Hertford College and Lecturer in the Faculty of English since 1997. She teaches part of the first year paper ‘Introduction to Literary Studies’, the Renaissance paper to second years and Shakespeare. She lectures in the English Faculty on these topics with some of these lectures available as free podcasts from iTunesU. She also teaches on the English Faculty MSt course 1550-1700 and supervises research students on early modern topics.


  • 12:15 - On-site registration & buffet lunch
  • 12:30 - Talk commences
  • 13:30 - Event close

The seminar is open for anyone to attend, registration is essential so please use the register button to confirm your attendance.