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Charlotte Purkis is a Principal Lecturer in the department of Performing Arts. She specialises in connections between the performing arts and Modernisms, has published widely on dance, theatre and music history, and is particularly interested in critical writing practices including autoethnography, and in the roles played by women in the 20th century cultural avant-garde.

Areas of expertise

  • Socio-cultural constructions of gender and sexuality
  • Critical thinking and performance
  • Feminism
  • European Modernism in drama, dance and music
  • Anglo-American and European connections in theatre history
  • Theatre history especially theatre clubs in London 1920s-1960s
  • Critical approaches to performance, especially gendered responses and autoethnography
  • History of the new musicology



Chapters in books

  • 'Velona Pilcher and Dame Ellen Terry 1926', Ellen Terry, Spheres of Influence - Cockin, K (Chatto and Pickering 2011), pp. 119-132.
  • 'L'eros dans la litterature', Les Lettres Europeenes: manuel d'histoire de la littérature européenne (Eds.) Annick Benoit-Dusausoy and Guy Fontaine 1st edition (Paris: Hachette 1999), 2nd edition (Boeck Duclot Brussels 2007), pp. 572-8.
  • 'You might have called it beauty or poetry or passion just as well as music': Gertrude Hudson's fictional fantasies' The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction - Fuller, S and Loessef, N (Ashgate 2004) pp. 197-254


  • 'The Commemoration of the Strindberg Centenary of 1949 in Britain', Swedish Book Review, 2012:2, pp.
  • 'Irene Mawer Dance Words', in: Sirotkina, I (ed.) Free Verse, Free Dance, State University of Moscow 2011 [CD: ISBN: 978-5-89357-301-5].
  • 'Aspiring to Musicality: Improvisations in aural-visual 'correspondence' in turn-of-the-century British Art', Tate Papers 14, Autumn 2010 [http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/listening-sublime-aural-visual-improvisations-nineteenth-century; http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/sublime-object
  • 'Leader of Fashion in musical thought: the importance of Rosa Newmarch in the context of turn-of-the-century British styles of music appreciation' Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies 3 - Horton, P and Zon, B (Ashgate 2003) pp. 3-20
  • 'Post-modernity at The Piano: 19th century erotic bodies and the limits of language', Critical Musicology Newsletter 3, 2004
  • 'Sex-education in British and German Culture 1890-1914', Journal of Social Theory and Education, University of Southampton, Vol. 1 no. 1
  • 'The Making of Modern Dance: Rudolf Laban - The Seminal Years in Munich 1910-1914 ', with Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Dance Theatre Journal, Part 1 (Autumn 1989) Part 2 (Spring 1990), volume 7 no. 3-4.


  • Contributor to New Grove Book of Operas, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Viking/Penguin Opera Guide: entries on 2th century Austro-German/American opera, and The International Dictionary of Opera: entry on Rutland Boughton.

Presentations at conferences/symposia

  • Conference Paper - June 2014 - 'Roads to and from Metz: Velona Pilcher's literary excursions in the 'theatre of war' 1918-1947' . Literary Journalism and The Great War. University of Nancy-Metz, Lorraine, France
  • Conference Paper - June 2014 - 'Imaginary Portrait of a cosmopolitan itinerant - 'Israfel Mondego' - through the "ravished pen " of his alter-ego, Gertrude Hudson, aesthetic writer on music.' Cosmopolitanism, Aestheticism and Decadence. University of Oxford
  • Conference Paper - August 2014 - 'Promotion, Patronage and Mentoring in post-war London: origins, ideals and consequences of The Watergate Theatre Club'. European Association of Avant-Garde and Modernist Studies. University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Conference Paper - June 2014 - 'Music writers' and musical criticism in early 20thc Britain'. Music Literature, Historiography and Aesthetics. University of London, Institute of Musical Research
  • Conference Paper - July 2014 - 'From the trenches to the tightrope: confronting the challenges of Velona Pilcher's bodily visions'. Queer Bodies 2014. University of London, Birkbeck
  • Conference Paper - July 2014 - 'Cross-dressed critics: the significance of gendered expressions of self in writings on performance from the Early Modernist context.' Centre for Gender Studies 'Gender, History, Culture'. University of Winchester
  • Conference Paper - October 2014 - 'A Female Journey's End? Velona Pilcher's vision of wartime trauma in The Searcher (1930) and its challenges to convention.' Modernism at War. University of Glasgow
  • Presenter - December 2014 - 'Velona Pilcher's The Searcher (1930) a female Journey's End or a prelude to The Play of Light?'. Centre for Gender Studies research seminar. University of Winchester
  • Conference Paper - December 2013 - 'To bring the theatre into line with the best in the other arts': Velona Pilcher as a conduit for the traffic of transatlantic and European modernisms into 1920s British avant-garde theatrical culture. Women's Intercontinental Cross-currants. Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg Germany
  • Presentation -Practice, Process and Paradox: Creativity and the Academy. April 2013, University of Roehampton, 'Musical sensibilities and their place in current musicology.'
  • Conference Paper - New Elizabethans: Nation, Culture and Identity Institute of English Studies, University of London June 2013 ''Other Elizabeths, and associates, across the water: the overlooked contribution of the Watergate Theatre Club to the formation of new contexts for experimental arts in Britain from the mid 20th century.''
  • Conference paper - Music in Nineteenth century Britain June 2013, University of Cardiff, '' Imaginary Portrait of 'Israfel Mondego' , through the "ravished pen " of Gertrude Hudson, aesthetic writer on music'.
  • Conference paper - Dancing on the Trenches: Erotic Expressionism and Post-war trauma in Velona Pilcher's The Searcher ', Women Writing Between the Wars, St. Johns College Oxford, April 1998
  • Conference paper - 'Max Brand and the Music of the Night', Thwarted Voices: composers suppressed by the Third Reich, SOAS London, July 2000
  • Conference paper - 'Seven Veils and a Full Monty? Film ,Music and Embodiment - actual and virtual' , Royal Musical Association Annual Conference Music and Film, Southampton University 2001
  • Conference paper - Aesthetic explorations of personal and collective identities and their construction through 'imperfect' listening to music' 19th century Music in Britain (Leeds July 2003)
  • Conference paper - Musical writing and English aestheticism, or, the 'ravished pen' and the 'temperamental critic' 19th century Music in Britain (Nottingham July 2005)
  • Conference paper - 'Someone called Velona Pilcher', University of Hull, 'Ellen Terry and Edith Craig' conference, June 2009
  • 'Thought in a glow: ultra-modernity and the Scriabinist' (1913-1931), University of London, Institute of English Studies, Russia in Britain: 1880-1940: Reception, Translation and the Modernist Cultural Agenda conference, June 2009
  • 'Aspiring to Musicality: Improvisations in aural-visual 'correspondence' in turn-of-the-century British Art', Tate Papers 14, Autumn 2010
  • 'Movement, poetry and Dionysian Modernism: Irene Mawer's experiments with 'dance words', University of Surrey, National Resource Centre for Dance, project 'Pioneer Women: early British modern dancers project', 'Moving Naturally: re-thinking dance 1900s -1930s', symposium October 2009
  • 'Telling Tales in the Realms of Ficto-criticism' (1) 'Royal Musical Association: Boundaries', University of London July 2010; (2) University of Winchester 'Symposium on Creative and Critical Writing', November 2010
  • 'Irene Mawer's Dance Words', 'Free Verse/Free Dance', Moscow State University Russia, September 2010
  • 'The Immortality of the Hour: creative engagements in the critical reception of Rutland Boughton's music drama', Music On Stage 3, Rose Bruford College, October 2010
  • 'Velona Pilcher and her American Theatre contacts', British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, UCLAN Preston, April 2011
  • 'Writerly identity in early 20th century characterisations of the Diva: exploring interactions between creative practice and personality in the literary journalism of Velona Pilcher', 'The Diva', Liverpool Hope University, July 2011
  • 'The Immortality of 'The Hour': what paradoxes are at play in perceptions of Rutland Boughton's music-dramas beyond the opera house?, Transforming Opera: Love to Death, Welsh National Opera/Cardiff University School of Music/Royal Musical Association annual conference, Millennium Centre Cardiff, May 2012.
  • 'Anglo-American expressionism in Rubbra and Pilcher's music-theatre collaboration The Searcher (1930)', Music on Stage 4, Rose Bruford College for Theatre and Performance, October 2012
  • 'Velona Pilcher: Theatrical Modernisms', University of Hull Department of English research seminar series, November 2012
  • 'Theatre Arts Monthly and its role in the play of theatrical modernisms within the European avant-garde', Modernist Magazines in the Americas: Points of Departure, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, December 2012
  • 'Contrasts and connections in Anglo-American Expressionist writing: The Searcher in context', British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, April 2013.


  • National Council for Drama Training (Adviser on pilot accreditation process (2005-2007) and developer of training materials)
  • Quality Assurance Agency (Subject specialist reviewer:HE and HE in FE (Drama, Dance and Cinematics; Music and Music technology) 1998-2011); Auditor: IQER pilot 2006
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