Academic Profile

Dr Ella Hawkins

My research explores how ideas are communicated through visual elements of performance and culture. My forthcoming research monograph, titled Shakespeare in Elizabethan Costume: ‘Period Dress’ in Twenty-First-Century Performance, examines how early modern garments are recycled and reimagined in contemporary costume design for Shakespeare. The book deconstructs the ideas, assumptions, and desires that cluster around the clothing of the early modern period, and demonstrates how these associations have been manipulated by theatre practitioners to mould the meanings of Shakespeare’s plays.

To establish how individual costumes interact with broader cultural narratives, I use an interdisciplinary approach to research. My work combines practical knowledge of costume construction processes with original interview material, textual analysis, historical evidence, and critical frameworks drawn from various fields (such as theories of experimental archaeology, cultural tourism, fairy tale, and hauntology). I am interested in the minutiae of modern design – how seams are sewn, which fabrics are used – as well as the widespread movements that have produced our modern relationship with Shakespeare.

Beyond my monograph, I have published on Paul Tazewell’s costume design for the musical Hamilton and on the subject of seventeenth-century festival books.