Dr Rachel Holmes

Dr Rachel E Holmes

MA (Hons) MLitt PhD FHEA

Rachel’s research is interdisciplinary and transnational in focus, anchored in early modern English literature and culture but invested in the inter– and the trans–, that is, in the spaces between and beyond conventional national, disciplinary, and period boundaries.

Dr Rachel Holmes

Rachel grew up in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, where she attended her local comprehensive, Carleton High School, and coeducational sixth-form, NEW College. After heading to St Hugh’s College, Oxford, as an undergraduate she returned north to the University of St Andrews to complete her MA and MLitt in Shakespeare Studies. She was awarded her PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, from St Andrews in 2014. Since then, she has been a Research Associate at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) and the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson, and a Lecturer in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at University College London. She rejoined Wolfson in Michaelmas 2022 as College Assistant Professor, Director of Studies, and Fellow in English.

Her doctoral work became her first book project, Clandestine Contracts: Marriage, Law, and Literary Adaptation in Early Modern Europe, completed with the support of a Philip A Knachel Fellowship from the Folger Institute, a European Research Council postdoctoral research associateship, and a Laura Bassi Scholarship. This book traces the journey across the early modern world of selected tales of clandestine marriage, the medieval institution of Christian marriage undertaken outside the recognition of legal authorities. Clandestine Contracts shows how the relationship between versions of its focal tales is shaped by legal anxieties about clandestine marriage and thereby demonstrates the centrality of legal questions to transnational literary adaptation. 

To date, Rachel’s published work has been featured in Studies in Philology, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Renaissance Studies, The New Rambler, and contracted for edited volumes with Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge University Presses. Broadly interested in literary and legal structures and processes of knowing, its subjects have included, for example, the threatening contractual agency of the early modern widow, truth-seeking and the effects of rhetorical vividness in literature, law, and emotion, and teaching social justice through Shakespeare.

She is currently working on her second monograph project, Rape Myths: Representing Consent and Culpability, 1275–1736, which explores the early modern roots of contemporary Anglo-American laws governing sexual transgressions and charts a transnational transformation in the representation of rape —figured through shifts in inwardness and intention in literature— during that time. 

What's on

Inger Mewburn

Kicking the can down the road: How to create research impact in seven (not so easy) steps

06/06/2023 at 17.30

We hear terms like ‘research impact’ and ‘engagement’ all the time, but what does ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ actually look like in practice?

selection of books written by Professor Inger Mewburn

Productivity workshops for researchers with Prof. Inger Mewburn aka The Thesis Whisperer

10/06/2023 at 10.00

Join Professor Inger Mewburn, also known online as the Thesis Whisperer, for one or both workshops to help increase your productivity: Getting sh!t done and Building a second brain (for writing)

'You' by Gavin Fry

Art Exhibition: 'Things Put Differently'

10/06/2023 at 10.00

Visit Wolfson's latest exhibition 'Things Put Differently' featuring Gavin Fry and works by Anthony Green and Mary Cozens-Walker.

Photo of artist Gurpran Rau holding a piece of her artwork

Art Exhibition: 'Patterns of Renewal'

10/06/2023 at 10.00

We're delighted to be the first to display Gurpran Rau's latest exhibition 'Patterns of Renewal', featuring a series of paintings created during lockdown inspired by her walks in the woods of Cambridgeshire.