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Professor Jim Davis

Professor Jim Davis

Professor of Theatre Studies

School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures

Tel: +44 (0)24 765 74842

Room F01
Millburn House
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7HS


Professor Jim Davis holds a BA (Hons) in English and MA from Oxford University and a PhD in Drama from Exeter University. He joined the School in 2004 after eighteen years teaching Theatre Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, where he was latterly Head of the School of Theatre, Film and Dance. In Australia he was also President of the Australasian Drama Studies Association (the tertiary association of drama teachers), and member of the Board of Studies of the National Institute of Dramatic Art. Prior to leaving for Australia he spent ten years teaching in London at what is now Roehampton University. He has co-organised conferences for the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) in New South Wales and at Warwick. He has convened Historiography Working Groups for both the IFTR and for TaPRA. He is also an editor of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film.


BA (Hons) (English Language & Literature) University of Oxford

MA University of Oxford

PhD (Drama) Exeter University

Teaching and supervision

Professor Davis supervises MA and PhD dissertations on a range of topics largely, but not exclusively, pertaining to British theatre c.1780–1914.

Research interests

  • Nineteenth-Century British Theatre
  • Nineteenth-Century London Theatre Audiences
  • Nineteenth-Century Australian Theatre
  • Theatre Iconography
  • History and Theory of Acting
  • Melodrama and Pantomime
  • Comic Performance
  • Dickens and Theatre
  • Contemporary British Theatre

His major research interest is in nineteenth-century British theatre and his most recent books are European Theatre Performance Practice Vol 3 1750-1900 (editor, 2014)), Comic Acting and Portraiture in Late-Georgian and Regency England (2015), - winner of the David Bradby Memorial Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance' 2017 and shortlisted for the 2015 TLA George Freedley Memorial Award USA - Theatre & Entertainment (2016), and Dickensian Dramas: Plays from Charles Dickens Volume II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). Other publications include Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays and Lives of Shakespearian Actors II.I: Edmund Kean. He is also joint-author of a study of London theatre audiences in the nineteenth century Reflecting the Audience: London 1840-1880 published by the University of Iowa Press in 2001. This was awarded the 2001 Theatre Book Prize for the best book on theatre published in that year. He has previously published books on John Liston, a nineteenth-century actor, and on the Britannia Theatre, as well as editing a volume of the plays of H. J. Byron for Cambridge University Press. He has contributed chapters to a number of books, including essays on nineteenth-century acting to the Cambridge History of British Theatre and on audiences to the Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre.

He has also published in many periodicals including Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Theatre Notebook, Essays in Theatre, Themes in Drama, New Theatre Quarterly, Nineteenth Century Theatre, Theatre Research International and The Dickensian. He was also responsible for many of the theatrical entries in The Oxford Readers' Companion to Dickens and is a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Theatre and Performance, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Stage Actors and Acting and the New Dictionary of National Biography. For several years he wrote an annual review of publications on nineteenth-century English Drama and Theatre for The Year's Work in English Studies.

He also has interests in late nineteenth-century and contemporary European theatre (particularly British and Irish theatre), in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australian theatre, in the history and theory of acting, in script-writing and in theatre historiography.

He is currently co-editor of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film. He has convened Theatre Historiography Working Groups for both the International Federation of Theatre Research and for the British Theatre and Performance Research Association.

Recent research

Recent research projects include a Leverhulme-funded study of cultural exchange between Britain and Australia 1880–1960 (with Australian academic Veronica Kelly). Currently he is Principal Investigator on an AHRC research project which focuses on the relationship between theatrical and visual culture in the nineteenth century in conjunction with colleagues at Exeter University.

Selected publications

Monographs and edited books

Dickensian Dramas: Plays from Charles Dickens Vol. II (editor), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Theatre & Entertainment, Basingstoke: palgrave Macmillan, 2016

Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays (editor), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Reflecting the Audience: London Theatregoing, 1840-1880 Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001 (with Victor Emeljanow)

Book Chapters

'Writing for Actors: The Dramas of Thomas Dibdin', in Oskar Cox Jensen, David Kennerley and Ian Newman, eds., Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 189-203.

'Theatres and their Audiences', in Carolyn Williams, ed., The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, 78-92

'Social Function' in Peter Marx, ed., Cultural History of Theatre: The Age of Empire, 1800-1920, London: Bloomsbury, 2017, pp. 51-76.

Shakespeare in the visual arts’ in Jill Levenson & Rob Ormsby, eds., The Shakespearean World Routledge Worlds Series, (London & New York: Routledge, 2016}.

The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Literary Culture, ed., Juliet John (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 686-701.

‘Looking Towards 1843 and the End of the Monopoly’, The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre, 1737-1832, ed. Julia Swindells & David Francis Taylor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 156-173.

'Can you do that, Auntie? Representing the Victorian Theatre through Caricature and Cartoon’ in Heinrich, Newey & Richards, eds., Ruskin, the Theatre, and Victorian Visual Culture, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 216-238.

Refereed articles

‘'Looking and being Looked at: Visualising the Nineteenth-Century Spectator', Theatre Journal December 2017

'"Slap on! Slap ever!" Victorian Pantomime, Gender Variance and Cross-dressing', New Theatre Quarterly, 30:3 (August 2014), 119, 218-230.

Disrupting the Quotidian: Hoaxes, fires and non-theatrical performance in nineteenth-century London’, New Theatre Quarterly, XXIX:1 (February 2013), 113, 3-12.

“The Sublime of Tragedy in Low Life”, European Romantic Review (April 2007), 159-167.

“Freaks, Prodigies and Marvellous Mimicry: Child Actors of Shakespeare on the Nineteenth-Century Stage”, Shakespeare 2:2 (December 2006), 179-193.

“Self-Portraiture On and Off the Stage: The Low Comedian as Iconographer” Theatre Survey, 43:2 (November, 2002), 177-200.

Office hours

See noticeboard for available times each week.



MA & PhD Supervisions

Comic Acting and Portraiture in late-Georgian and Regency England
Dickensian Dramas
Social Functions: The Social Function of Theatre
Ireland, Enlightenment and the English Stage
The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama