Photo of Dr Freyja Cox Jensen

Dr Freyja Cox Jensen

Senior Lecturer


01392 724377

My research interests centre on the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Britain and Europe, especially the reception of the classics, and print culture more widely.  I am currently working on projects exploring the classical book trade in early modern Europe, and the Stationers' Company in Elizabethan and early Stuart England, as well as projects examining the points at which print and the performance of drama and song intersect.

Research interests

  • Early modern intellectual history
  • Early modern cultural and social history
  • The history of the book
  • Reception studies, especially classical reception
  • Literary studies
  • Practice-based research as a tool for historical study
  • The relationship between performance and print in the early modern world

I am currently completing a monograph about the production, dissemination, and consumption of ancient history in early modern England, firmly situated in its trans-national context.

Research collaborations

With Prof. John Pitcher (St John's College, Oxford), I am working on a study of a small group of early modern stationers, analysing the capital investment they made in publishing.  Between them, our fraternity of publishers - William Ponsonby (d.1604), his brother-in-law, Simon Waterson (1562-1635), who inherited much of Ponsonby’s stock, and Edward Blount (1565-1632), who was apprenticed to Ponsonby in 1578 for a period of ten years - published a substantial sample of over 400 books.  These were dedicated to prominent individuals in public life and at court, and include works by Daniel, Spenser, Sidney, and Shakespeare.

Our project traces the financial choices made by these men, using a new statistical tool to estimate the cost of printing each book.  We are exploring what the publishing decisions of these men have to tell us about the social status of publishers and writers, and about the question of genre and the formation of the English literary canon.  Our findings will appear in a monograph entitled, Publishers and Writers in Shakespeare's England.

Research supervision

I am happy to discuss research proposals from students interested in studying aspects of classical reception in the early modern period, or from those who are interested in the business of publishing books in early modern England.  Further information about postgraduate study at Exeter is available here:  and if you are considering a PhD at Exeter and are thinking about applying for AHRC funding, there is useful information here:

As Exeter's lead for the South, West, and Wales AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership's theme, 'Communities of Creative and Critical Practice', I am also interested in hearing from students whose research might fall under this heading.

Research students

Joshua Rhodes (co-supervised by Henry French)

Imogene Dudley (co-supervised by Jane Whittle)

Jane Campbell (co-supervised by Andrew McRae)

Research through practice

With Emma Whipday (UCL and Oxford), I am working on a practice-based project which uses, as its focal point, a play from the 1590s referred to in Henslowe's diary as 'A tragedie called Merrie'.  Based on a real murder, the plot is also found in Robert Yarington’s composite narrative, Two Lamentable Tragedies (1601), from which our text has been excerpted.

Our project explores both the text, in particular, and the world of the early modern stage more broadly.  We are interested in understanding how early modern rehearsal practices assist and challenge modern actors in performing character, and thus how they might help us to understand the gaps between early modern theatre, and theatre today.  We are also keen to explore the relationships between history and literature, tragedy and comedy, and the domestic and the communal, through this domestic tragedy, and to discover what practice as – and as a complement to – research, can teach us about early modern drama, culture, and society, and the lived experience of sixteenth-century actors and spectators. 

We staged 'The Tragedy of Thomas Merry' in London, in March 2014, in partnership with independent actors and members of Reverend Productions (  Our blog can be found here:  Using original practices – including actors’ parts, a brief rehearsal period, and a ‘bookkeeper’ – we explored how these methods illuminate spatial dynamics and character development for both actors and audience.  We are continuing to work with the actors to assess what impact, if any, the play has had upon their professional practice.  An article discussing our findings will appear in a forthcoming edition of The Shakespeare Bulletin.

I am also engaged in a collaborative project based on an exploration of popular song in the longer early modern period, with my brother, Oskar Cox Jensen (UCL).  At present, the group of musicians we work with is focusing on songs exploring the experience of the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars, with a series of performances coming up in 2015, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  Examples of some of our early recordings can be found here:   Future work, with various creative partners, will look more widely at ballads and the role of the ballad singer in the period 1450-1850.

External impact and engagement

I have been awarded grants from the Catalyst project, and the University's Research and Knowledge Transfer fund, to undertake a series of Public Engagement activities.  These currently centre on two projects: 'The Tragedy of Thomas Merry', with Emma Whipday, and a project on popular song, with Oskar Cox Jensen. 

The biggest 'Merry' event so far is a public performance of the play in London, in March 2014, staged in collaboration with a group of professional actors.  Other events include a TedX talk at Goodenough College, London, and a series of  public workshops.  These range from creative response workshops with practitioners in the performing and visual arts, to weekend and evening workshops for anybody interested, and a Year 10 Focus Day, involving 200 students from Highworth Grammar School in Kent. 

The popular song project has used the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015 to engage members of the public through music, and we are working with partners including the British Museum, English Heritage, The National Portrait Gallery, Dove Cottage Wordsworth Museum, The Royal Logistics Corp, The Army & Navy Club, and several schools and community groups in Devon. 

With Prof. James Clark, Prof. Henry French, and Dr Laura Sangha, I'm working in partnership with Wells Cathedral Library and its volunteers, to explore how we might develop their visitor experience.  I have also set up a relationship between Exeter and The Cullompton Walronds Trust, Devon, to deliver for the local community a series of events and activities based on early modern history and literature.  The ongoing History Group talks continue to be a great success; we have contributed to an early modern 'fair'; and a range of drama workshops with members of local amateur dramatic societies has so far led to the staging of one 'lost' Tudor play in the Hall of The Walronds itself.


I teach a variety of modules on early modern British history, as well as more general modules, and courses addressing the theory and practice of history.  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, holding a Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from the University of Oxford.

I currently convene the cross-Humanities employability module, Humanities in the Workplace (HUM2000 and HUM2001), which I deliver with Dr Paul Young (English) and Ms Rachel Wheeler (the College's Employability Officer).  In 2014, the module was shortlisted for the international Wharton-QS Stars 'Nurturing Employability' Award.

Modules taught


I read Ancient and Modern History at Christ Church, Oxford, from 2002-2005, before going on to complete my MSt and DPhil there.  After a year spent as a Stipendiary Lecturer at Merton College, Oxford, I returned to Christ Church in 2010 to take up a Junior Research Fellowship, before joining the University of Exeter in 2012.