Sophie Butler

Sophie Butler


  • 1.24 Arts and Humanities Building

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I came to UEA in 2017 from the University of Oxford. I am originally from a small village just outside the Cathedral City of Lichfield in Staffordshire, and I had a somewhat unusual educational journey towards university. I became ill with M.E. in my early teens, which meant that I had to leave my state secondary school and be tutored at home for my GSCEs. I then returned to school for sixth form – this time to a small all-girls’ boarding and day school – meaning that I ended up experiencing a range of learning environments, all of which in varied ways helped to prepare me for different aspects of university life both as a student and as a tutor.

Teaching Interests

I teach on a range of pre-1789 undergraduate modules within LDC, including 'Seventeenth Century Writing' and 'Reading and Writing in Elizabethan England', as well as contributing lectures to both these courses and other modules within the School, such as Literature in History. I have recently supervised dissertations on women and eighteenth-century theatre and early-modern women's life-writing, and would be keen to hear from students who would like to pursue an early-modern dissertation topic, particularly those with an interest in the history of the book, women's writing, or life writing.

I contribute towards the teaching on the MA in Medieval and Early-Modern Textual Cultures, including classes on Montaigne and humanistic culture and on the history of the book. 

Research Group or Lab Membership

I am a member of the Medieval and Early-Modern Research Group within LDC.

Key Research Interests

My research focuses primarily on the literary essay in early-modern England and on the ways in which the literary form of the essay is shaped by material forms of reading and writing, intersecting with transformations in humanistic culture and the development of life-writing across the period. I am currently working on a project about the early-modern essay and its relationship to the 'draft', and I recently delivered a keynote paper on this topic at the conference 'Literary Form After Matter, 1500-1700', held in Oxford in June 2018.

My work focuses heavily on archives and the history of reading and of the book, drawing upon many unpublished manuscript sources and annotated books from libraries around the world. I am interested in different modes of cirulation in manuscript and print in the early-modern period, and am currently preparing an article about the manuscript circulation of The Encomium of Richard III by the early-modern essayist Sir William Cornwallis the Younger (c.1579-1614) -- the writer who formed the focus of my doctorate -- in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. My work on the English essay has led me to work on the French writer Michel de Montaigne (as well as on readers' responses to the first printed English translation of Montaigne's essays in 1603) and on the Continental contexts of English literary writing and culture more broadly. 

I am also particularly interested in women as writers, readers, and patrons in the early-modern period, and am currently preparing an article on early-modern noblewomen as patrons of English essays, with a particular focus on Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, and her familial networks. I am also bringing together my interests in women's writing and life writing in an ongoing side project to edit a manuscript diary written by a woman called Mary Woodforde in the late 1680s and 1690s.