John McGavin

Primary position:


The University of Southampton
Professor John McGavin's photo

MA (Hons) (Edin) in English Language and Literature: Medieval Studies, 1972; PhD (Edin) on Medieval Drama, 1982. 

I was appointed as Lecturer in English at Southampton in 1975; Senior Lecturer in 1998; Head of Department 2000-2003; and Assistant Dean (Postgraduate) in the Faculty of Arts 2001-2003. I was appointed to a personal chair in 2007. I have held research fellowships in the Departments of English at the University of Edinburgh and Scottish History at the University of Glasgow. 

I have an Excellence in Teaching award from the Students' Union and a Distinguished Teaching award from the Vice-Chancellor. At present offer interdisciplinary undergraduate courses on Norse studies, the transmission of the Troy legend, and, at senior undergraduate and MA level, late-medieval to early-modern English and Scottish drama, and the contested theatricality of public life. My current research students, Nadia van Pelt and Clare Egan, work respectively in these last two areas. 

I have acted as external examiner for undergraduate degrees in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Durham, Bristol and Dundee, for postgraduate courses in Bristol and Edinburgh, and for PhDs or Fellowships at a number of universities in the UK and abroad. 

I sit on the Higher Education Committee of the English Association, the Council of the Scottish Text Society, and the Advisory Board of the Medieval English Theatre journal. I am chair of the Executive Board of the Records of Early English Drama organisation (Toronto), was 'Discovery Teacher-in-Residence' at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2009, and will be a member of sub-panel 29 (English Language and Literature) for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. 

I am a member of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture at Southampton and a Fellow of the English Association. I am available to give talks through the free ‘Speakers for Schools' project: http://www.speakers4schools.org/.


The University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints)


McGavin, John J. (2014) “Nice opinion - god of fools” Drummond of Hawthornden and folly. Theta XI, 11, 201-212.
McGavin, John J. (2011) To see or not to see: ideology and spectatorship. Theta IX, Théâtre Tudor, IX, 3-16.
McGavin, John J. (2009) Medieval theatricality and spectatorship. Theta: Theatre Tudor, 8, 183-200.
McGavin, John (2008) Alliterative place name lists in early drama. Medieval English Theatre, 30, 45-62.
McGavin, John J. (2002) ‘That Thin Skin’: Skipper Lindsay and the Language of Record. Medieval English Theatre, 24, 15-31.


McGavin, John J. (2007) Theatricality and narrative in medieval and early modern Scotland, Aldershot, UK, Ashgate, 172pp. (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama).

Book Section

McGavin, John J. (2013) Spectatorship in Scotland. In, Hadley Williams, Janet and McClure, J. Derrick (eds.) 'Fresche fontanis': Studies in the Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Scotland. Newcastle upon Tyne, GB, Cambridge Scholars Press, 289-307.
McGavin, John J. (2012) Nice Wanton, c.1550. In, Betteridge, Thomas and Walker, Greg (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama. , Oxford University Press, 246-261.
McGavin, John (2010) Performing communities: civic religious drama. In, Treharne, Elaine and Walker, Greg (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English. Oxford, GB, Oxford University Press, 200-218. (Oxford Handbooks of Literature).
McGavin, John J. (2007) Working towards a reformed identity in Lindsay’s Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. In, Happé, Peter and Hüsken, Wim (eds.) Interludes and Early Modern Society: Studies in Gender, Power and Theatricality. Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rodopi, 239-260. (Ludus: Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama 9).
McGavin, John J. (2007) Thomas Ker of Redden’s trip to the Low Countries, 1620. In, Carpenter, Sarah and Dunnigan, Sarah M. (eds.) "Joyous Sweit Imaginatioun": Essays on Scottish Literature in Honour of R.D.S. Jack. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Rodopi, 155-175.
Willimason, Eila and McGavin, John J. (2006) Crossing the border: the provincial records of south-east Scotland. In, Douglas, Audrey and MacLean, Sally-Beth (eds.) REED in Review: Essays in Celebration of the First Twenty-Five Years. Toronto, CA, University of Toronto Press, 157-177. (Studies in Early English Drama).
McGavin, John J. (2004) Faith, pastime, performance, and drama in Scotland to 1603. In, Milling, Jane and Thomson, Peter (eds.) The Cambridge History of British Theatre: Origins to 1660. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 70-86.
McGavin, J.J. (2001) Secular music in the burgh of Haddington, 1530-1640. In, Kisby, Fiona (ed.) Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 45-56.


Research Interests

 I have a particular interest in the interpretation of primary records of early English and Scottish drama, theatricality in its widest sense, ceremony, and play. This led to my book Theatricality and narrative in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland (2007), which won the 2009 Frank Watson Prize for Scottish History. My continuing research project is ‘Records of Early Drama: Scotland'. This involves the locating and editing of all records relating to drama, ceremonial, and secular music in Scotland before 1642 with my co-editor, Dr Eila Williamson, of the University of Glasgow. The project is carried out under the auspices of the Records of Early English Drama (REED) organisation (University of Toronto). At present, work is concentrated on volume two: ‘The non-royal records of the South-East of Scotland'. The primary research for this volume is nearly complete. It has been supported by the Modern Humanities Research Association, and by a major five-year award from the AHRC. 

I was Principal Investigator for the project ‘Records of Early English Drama, Middlesex/Westminster: Eight Theatres North of the Thames'. This work was funded by the AHRC (UK) and SSHRC (Canada). It involved collaboration with colleagues in the Records of Early English Drama organisation, the University of Toronto, King's College London, Royal Holloway, the Institute of Historical Research, and Globe Education, Shakespeare's Globe. One of its main outputs is the freely accessible resource http://www.emlot.kcl.ac.uk, which was launched in February 2011.

 I have just completed a chapter on ‘Performance' in early Scots and Gaelic culture with Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart for the Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Literature 1400-1650, ed. Nicola Royan (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2013), and am now writing a book on Spectatorship in Medieval and Early-Modern Drama with Professor Greg Walker of the University of Edinburgh. 

Future research will focus on the drama records of South-East Scotland, but I hope also to produce an edition of Sir William Ker's Itinerario (1625) with Professor Edward Chaney.

Research project

Records of Early English Drama, Middlesex/Westminster: Eight Theatres North of the Thames - Dormant

The project's aim was to generate both a primary resource, the edition, and an accessible basis for reflection on how such data was selected and transmitted in subsequent traditions, that is, a web-based bibliography.


Professor John McGavin
Faculty of Humanities
University of Southampton
Avenue Campus
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2035

Telephone: (023) 8059 3106
Email: J.J.Mcgavin@soton.ac.uk