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About Prof Emma Rees

My teaching is interdisciplinary, focusing on gender and representation from the early modern period (my first book was about Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-73)) to today. I've published extensively in the field: my second book, The Vagina: a Literary and Cultural History was published by Bloomsbury, and I’m working on my third, That is a Feminist Issue.

I’m Director of the University of Chester’s Institute of Gender Studies, and Programme Leader of the interdisciplinary MRes in Gender Studies. I’m also curator of the Talking Bodies Project, hosting its biennial conference at Chester (next conference: July 2021).

I'm on the editorial boards of several journals (Gender & Education; Writing From Below; Assuming Gender; The Journal of Feminist Scholarship); I’m a reviewer for several others. I am also a regular contributor to the Times Higher magazine: In January 2016 I was appointed consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary, working to find new definitions for a small group of words related to the female body for the next edition of the dictionary.


I specialise in gender and representation in literature and film from the early modern period to today. Undergraduate and postgraduate modules on which I teach or lecture include:

Out of Their Minds: Representing 'Madness'

Postgraduate supervision:

I have extensive experience of supervising postgraduate students and supporting early career researchers. My PhD students are researching, or have already completed their doctoral work on, topics including an autoethnographic postcolonial feminist analysis of Hazara women in Afghanistan; cultural representations of psychosis from the nineteenth century; the myth of the vagina dentata in literature and film; Angela Carter and the gaze; the Manchester Chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; and the lives of Tudor women.

I welcome enquiries about research projects on:

  • Gender and representation
  • Representing mental illness
  • Renaissance literature and Shakespeare


My wider research and teaching interests include gender studies; early modern literature and culture; film theory (especially screen adaptations of literary texts), and Shakespeare studies. I enjoy teaching, researching and writing, and regularly speak at conferences throughout Europe and in the US. Additionally, I have performed my talk Vulvanomics: How we Talk About Vaginas (based on The Vagina) at more than 30 venues worldwide.

Published Work


 A Literary and Cultural History

  • That is a Feminist Issue [forthcoming]
  • The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013; paperback 2015);
  • Margaret Cavendish, Gender, Genre, Exile (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004; paperback 2015)
  • In a review in The New Statesman, Helen Lewis wrote of The Vagina that ‘you will enjoy what’s on offer here. There is a learned digression on other words for vagina [...] and a survey of depictions of female genitalia in folk tales, film, literature, art and television [...] The examples are well chosen and engaging’. The book was described as an ‘impassioned tract’ in Publisher’s Weekly, and, writing a review in The Independent on Sunday, Kaite Welsh claimed that ‘For readers disappointed by Naomi Wolf’s treatise on a similar topic last year, this is the book you’ve been waiting for’. The Vagina was Book of the Week in the Times Higher, where Shahidha Bari of Queen Mary, University of London, had this to say about it: ‘Rees’ book is the kind of work we need more of if we are to challenge and reconfigure how we understand women and sexuality in contemporary discourse’.

 Gender, Genre, Exile

  • Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Genre, Exile (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).

Book Chapters:  

  • 2017: ‘Varieties of Embodiment and “Corporeal Style”’, in Emma Rees (ed.), Talking Bodies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment, Gender, and Identity (Palgrave Macmillan);
  • 2017: ‘Revolting Women: Performing the New Explicit’, in Katherine Harrison and Cassandra A. Ogden (eds), Pornographies: Critical Positions (Issues in the Social Sciences 10) (University of Chester Press);
  • 2011: ‘The Principled Pleasure: Lisbeth’s Aristotelian Revenge’, in Eric Bronson (ed.),‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and Philosophy (New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell, 2011);
  • 2011: ‘Narrating the Victorian Vagina: Charlotte Brontë and the Masturbating Woman’, in Andrew Mangham and Greta Depledge (eds), The Female Body in Medicine and Literature (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2011);
  • 2010: ‘Sexual Politics’, in the Encyclopaedia of Sex and Society (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2010);
  • 2010: ‘Shakespeare and the Renaissance’, in Chantler and Higgins (eds), Studying English Literature (London: Continuum, 2010);
  • 2010: ‘Cordelia’s Can’t: Rhetorics of Reticence and (Dis)ease in King Lear’, in Jennifer Vaught (ed.), Rhetorics of Bodily Disease and Health in Medieval and Early Modern England (London: Ashgate, 2010);
  • 2009: with Richard E. Wilson, ‘Sometimes a Guitar is Just a Guitar’, in Calef (ed.), Led Zeppelin and Philosophy (Chicago: Open Court, 2009).


   Journal Articles:

  • 2017: ‘Gloriana’s Queer Skull: The Matter of Life and Death in The Revenger’s Tragedy’, in Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies (Heidelberg).
  • Chris Ribchester, Kim Ross, and Emma L. E. Rees, ‘Examining the Impact of Pre-induction Social Networking on the Student Transition into Higher Education’, Innovations in Education & Teaching International (March 2013).
  • ‘‘Sweet honey of the Muses: Lucretian resonance in Poems, and Fancies’, In-Between: Essays in Literary Criticism, 9: 1 & 2 (2000).
  • ‘Guest Editor’s Introduction’, Women’s Writing, 4: 3 (1997).
  • Heaven’s Library and Nature’s Pictures: Platonic paradigms and trial by genre’, Women’s Writing, 4:3 (1997).


Reviews (invited; since 2011)

2017: appointed Book Reviews Editor, Gender and Education (Routledge).

Book reviews published in The Times Higher

  • 27.07.17: Complicit Sisters: Gender and Women’s Issues across North-South Divides, by Sara de Jong;
  • 16.02.17: Living a Feminist Life, by Sara Ahmed;
  • 05.01.17: Get Out of My Room! A History of Teen Bedrooms in America, by Jason Reid;
  • 22.09.16: Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, by Jack Hamilton;
  • 30.06.16  Reclaiming Feminism: Challenging Everyday Misogyny, by Miriam E. David;
  • 26.05.16: The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed Within the Academy, by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber;
  • 17.09.15: The Feminism of Uncertainty: A Gender Diary, by Ann Snitow;
  • 20.08.15: SlutWalk: feminism, activism and media, by Kaitlynn Mendes;
  • 05.02.15: Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, by Rebecca M. Herzig;
  • 01.01.15: Technologies of Sexiness: Sex, Identity, and Consumer Culture, by Adrienne Evans and Sarah Riley;
  • 30.10.14: Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture, by James Joseph Dean.

Book reviews published elsewhere

  • November 2016: Jewish Soul Food: Traditional Fare and What it Means, Carol Ungar, Jewish Culture and History (RJCH);
  • 11.09.15: The Kaleidoscope of Gender: Prisms, Patterns, and Possibilities, by Joan Z. Spade and Catherine G. Valentine (Eds), GEA (Gender and Education Association);
  • 2013: Transgender Identities: Towards a Social Analysis of Gender Diversity, eds Sally Hines and Tam Sanger, GEA (Gender and Education Association);
  • 2013: ‘Subject Positions: Perspectives on Gender and Identity in the Academy and Beyond’ review essay, Women’s Studies Quarterly (Review of Rethinking Women’s and Gender Studies, by Catherine M. Orr, Ann Braithwaite, and Diane Lichtenstein; Transfeminist Perspectives in and Beyond Transgender and Gender Studies, by Anne Enke);
  • 2012: The Good Psychologist, by Noam Shpancer, Psychology and Sexuality;
  • October, 2011: ‘Who is it That Can tell Me Who I am?’ review essay, GEA (Gender and Education Association. Review of Embodying identities: culture, differences and social theory, by Victor Jeleniewski Seidler; Gender and Culture, by Anne Phillips; Changing Lives: Women, Inclusion and the PhD, by Barbara Ann Cole and Helen Gunter), 23.6, pp. 783-88;
  • September, 2011: Derrida and the Writing of the Body, by Jones Irwin, Psychology and Sexuality 2.3, pp. 265-68;
  • 2011: Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn, by Judy A. Hayden, Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research.


  • 2017 Emma Rees (ed.), Talking Bodies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment, Gender, and Identity (Palgrave Macmillan);
  • 2014: Emma Rees (ed.), Great Escapes: Poems from the Cheshire Prize for Literature, 2013 (University of Chester Press);
  • 2013: Emma Rees (ed.), Lost and Found: Stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature, 2012 (University of Chester Press);
  • 2011: Emma Rees (ed.), Still Life: Poems from the Cheshire Prize for Literature, 2010 (University of Chester Press);
  • 2010: Emma Rees (ed.), Zoo: Stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature, 2009 (Chester Academic Press).


BA, PhD, PGC Learning and Teaching (HE), FHEA.