Dr Melissa Merchant
B.A. Media, B.A. English (Hons), PhD Theatre and Drama,

Education, Early Career Researcher

About me

I am an early career researcher and Lecturer in the School of Arts.  My research areas, which were the main focus in my PhD, are Shakespeare, Restoration drama, adaptation and actresses. In the past three years, I have worked with Dr Katie Ellis on projects relating to disability and the media. I also work with the interdisciplinary research skills units offered by the School of Arts at Murdoch University, allowing me to engage with students from a diverse range of disciplines on a variety of research topics.

Teaching area

Unit Coordination

EGL240 Children’s Theatre

EGL342 Comparative Theatre

BAR200/OBAR200 Developing Research Skills and Methods

OBAR300 Advanced Research in the Arts

CMS202 Old Media, New Media

MCC213 Communication Research (Transnational)


EGL106 Drama, Theatre and Performance

EGL348 Shakespeare

CMS100 Introduction to Communication

CMS101 Introduction to Media

CMS201 Screen: Small, Medium, Large

CMS203 Audiences, Users and Participants


Research areas


Restoration Drama

Early Modern Theatre

Praxis-led Research

Children’s Theatre

Representation of emotions

Current projects

  • #ThisIsNotNew – Actresses, power and the long eighteenth-century. A study of rhetoric surrounding the English actresses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

  • TIE and Shakespeare. In collaboration with Shakespeare WA.

  • “The woman newly come, called Pegg”: The case against Margaret Hughes as the Vere Street Desdemona. An examination of the existing evidence of Margaret Hughes as the first professional English actress.

  • “No man in gown or page in Petticoat”: In search of Desdemona. A broader exploration of the actresses most often cited as being the first professional in England, including Coleman, Marshall, Betterton, Norris and Carey.

Awards and grants

2017        Murdoch School of Arts Research Support Fund Grant

2016        Murdoch School of Arts Small Grant Scheme for Early Career Researchers

2006        Murdoch University Research Scholarship

1997        Ida Curtois Inspiration Scholarship

Professional and community service

Blak Yak Theatre Inc, July 2000 – 2008, 20112015


Responsibilities:  Many and varied including, but not limited to; maintaining the financial records of a non-profit organisation, preparation of financial reports for monthly meetings.  Engaging with internal and external stakeholders. Ensuring budgets are adhered to. Maintaining member databases, as well as contact lists and publicity databases, to assist with the promotion of productions. I have also worked an actor, director, publicity manager, production manager, costume designer and FOH manager for the company.

Independent Theatre Association, 2010

Finley Awards Adjudicator

Responsibilities: Attend drama productions entered into the Finley Awards, assess each production according to set guideline provided by the ITA. Write comments to be sent to clubs containing observations and constructive criticism. Decide winners of individual awards, overall winners and award certificates. This role also involved data entry and filing.

Independent Theatre Association, March 2003 – March 2008

President/Vice President

Responsibilities:  Ensuring the organisation, administration and smooth running of the ITA. This includes written correspondence with other members of the arts community, writing applications for funding grants, liaising with Government departments as necessary, representing the ITA at functions/meetings and the organisation and hosting of the annual Finley Award Ceremony.



  • Merchant, M., Ellis, K., Latter, N., (2017), Captions and the Cooking Show, M/C Journal, 20, 3, pages Online Journal -.
  • Merchant, M., (2012), The Variety of Her Infinite Variety: A praxis-led examination of a new historicist/cultural materialist construct, IM Interactive Media, , 8, pages 1 - 22.

Book Chapter

  • Ellis, Katie and Melissa Merchant. 2018. “Disability Media Work.” In The Routledge Companion to Disability and Media, edited by Katie Ellis, Gerard Goggin, and Beth Haller. New York: Routledge. (Awaiting publication)

Journal Article

  • Merchant, Melissa. 2017. ‘The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?’: Love and Lust in Measure for Measure and The Law Against Lovers.’ Shakespeare Institute Review, 3.


  • Ellis, Katie, Mike Kent, Kathryn Locke and Melissa Merchant. 2016. Accessing subscription video on demand. Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Sydney.


  • 2013. ‘The Actress and Shakespeare: The impact and influence of the actress on the performance of Shakespeare during the Restoration.’ PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

Creative Outputs

  • 2015. No Names, No Pack Drill performed at the Old Mill Theatre in December. An auto-ethnographic study of a classic Australian play text.
  • 2015. Never Ever performed at Rigby’s, the Southwest Drama Festival, the Hills Drama Festival and Dramafest in August/September. Winner of Best Original Play at the Southwest Drama Festival.
  • 2014. Hamlet performed at the New Fortune Theatre in February/March 2014. Using the ‘authentic’ early modern stage, this production focused on familial relationships in a contemporary setting.
  • 2012/2013. The Winter’s Tale performed at Murdoch University, the Temple of Fine Arts in Jahor Bahru (Malaysia), the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjung Malim (Malaysia). A cross-cultural presentation of one of Shakespeare’s lesser known texts.