The Team


Dr Elena (Ellie) Woodacre, Founder and Director

Dr Woodacre is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History. She began her undergraduate studies in her native USA and completed her BA in Humanities with Classical Studies with the OU after she moved to the UK. She received an MA in Medieval Studies (with Merit) from the University of Reading in 2006 and shortly thereafter began her doctoral studies at Bath Spa University. Her PhD thesis was titled 'The Queens of Navarre 1274-1512: Succession, Politics and Partnership’ and focussed on issues surrounding female rule, matrimonial politics and the relationship between reigning queens and consort kings. 

Her recent research has investigated the female kinship network between four queens who were all first cousins at the turn of the 16th century, the life of Joan of Navarre, consort queen of England and various aspects of queenship and royal studies. She joined the History Department at Winchester in 2012 and was until recently the Faculty Coordinator for Postgraduate Research Degrees.

Additionally, Elena is the Editor-in-Chief of the Royal Studies Journal, an academic open-access publication launched in 2014 and the organiser of the ‘Kings & Queens’ conference series. 

Her teaching interests include issues related to gender and power, the Renaissance and the political and cultural history of Early Modern Europe, particularly France, Spain and Italy. Her area of specialism is queenship and royal studies.

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Dr Dustin M. Neighbors, Administrative Officer and Digital Content Manager

Dr Neighbors is a postdoctoral research associate with the Centre for Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He began his undergraduate studies in the southern USA and earned his BA in History and Sociology from Georgia State University. He received his MA in Early Modern History from the University of East Anglia in 2012 and immediately began his doctoral research at the University of York. Dustin’s doctoral thesis, titled “‘With my rulinge’: Agency, Queenship, and Political Culture through Royal Progresses during the Reign of Elizabeth I”, focused on royal progresses as fundamental instruments used to negotiate power between the ruler and the ruled, and craft spectacles of authority, particularly through ceremony, ritual, recreational activities, and visual displays both in public and private spaces.

Dustin’s current research builds on the negotiation of power and the intersection of politics and culture that were central themes of his doctoral research. At the Centre for Privacy Studies he examined the private and public nature of early modern German courts through the cultural activities, spectacles, and royal progresses (itinerant monarchies). Dustin's current research aims to highlight how the cultural activities and practices, primarily hunting, straddled the boundaries of the public/private divide, and shaped female agency, facilitated royal/electoral authority, influenced European political culture, and affected foreign relations. 

Dustin previously served as a postdoctoral research assistant with Historic Royal Palaces researching the royal progresses of Henry VIII. His research was the basis for the successful AHRC Network Grant for “Henry VIII on Tour: Tudor Palaces and Royal Progresses.” Additionally, he served as Chief Layout Editor for the Royal Studies Journal for four years. 


Saira Baker, Social Engagement Officer and Podcast Producer

Saira Baker is an historian specialising in 19th and 20th century European monarchy. She is also a researcher and producer. Her most recent producing work as been with the BBC World Service and Radio 4. She lives and works in London.

Saira began her undergraduate career at the University of Bedfordshire in 1997, completing her BA (Hons) degree in Drama with Technical Theatre. After a long career in the theatre industry under her belt it was time for a change. Pursuing her interest in the history of monarchy, Saira returned to academia, completing her BA (Hons) degree in History with the OU. 

Her research interests include the role of queens and crown princesses in court politics and international diplomacy. She is currently developing new research into the lives of Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII and Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Additionally, Saira serves as produced of the new Royal Studies podcast series and a as digital content officer for the Royal Studies Journal.

Johanna Strong, Social Media Officer and Admin Assistant