New AHRC grant to explore experiences of motherhood

Dr Emily Underwood Lee

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee, research fellow at the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee has been awarded a grant of £192,025 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore how the maternal is represented in theatre and performance.

Dr Underwood Lee will be working with Dr Lena Simic from Edge Hill University. This 18-month project is an extension of the research Underwood-Lee and Simic have been carrying out on maternal performance since 2016.

“There has been a significant upsurge in academic interest in the maternal,” said Dr Underwood-Lee. “However, in performance studies the maternal is under-theorised.”


The funding will allow Underwood-Lee and Simic to produce a series of outputs to include:

  • Co-authored book Performance and the Maternal, to be published with Palgrave
  • A symposium of artists, professionals and policy makers with a responsibility for supporting mothers
  • A website with artist interviews and other case study materials
  • A forum on maternal migration in collaboration with Maternal Artists Mutual Aid (MAMA) and the Institute for the Practice of Art and Dissent at Home
  • A policy briefing.


The project will generate impact in three key areas: culture; understanding; and policy and practice.

The key groups who will benefit from the research are mother/artists; professionals in health and social care with a responsibility for supporting those who mother; and policy makers whose brief includes arts, health and social care, women and equalities.

“Through working with those beyond academia, as well as actively sharing and promoting the findings of the research with those who are able to make change at a significant level, we will make a tangible difference to the way women are supported to carry out their day-to-day mothering,” said Dr Underwood-Lee.

About Dr Underwood Lee

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee is Research Fellow at USW’s George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling. Her work focuses on amplifying little heard personal stories from people whose voices may have been marginalised or overlooked and from the difference that hearing these stories can make in policy, practice and daily life for both teller and listener. She has a particular interest in stories of the maternal, gender, health/illness and heritage.

About the AHRC

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

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