Dr Alex da Costa

BA, MST, DPhil, MA

Fellow, Valerie Eliot Fellow in English, and Director of Studies (on leave 2017/18)

Picture of Alex da Costa

College Jobs

  • Fellow A
  • Valerie Eliot Fellow in English

University Jobs

  • University Lecturer, English Faculty


Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 335719

Email: ad666@cam.ac.uk

Picture of Alex da Costa


I’m a University Lecturer and Fellow at Newnham College. Before I came to Cambridge, I was at Oxford as a Fixed-Term Fellow at St Hilda’s College, and before that as a Research Fellow and Tutor at Keble College. I studied English Literature at Oxford as an undergraduate, specialising in medieval literature through their ‘Course 2’, before going on to complete my Masters and DPhil there.

My doctoral thesis was on the printed books that Syon Abbey printed in the turbulent 1530s, when the Church in England was threatened by both the spread of Lutheran heresy and Henry VIII’s desire for greater ecclesiastical control. This has since become a book, Reforming Printing: Syon Abbey’s Defence of Orthodoxy 1524-1534 (OUP, 2012).

Research Interests

My research frequently focuses on incunabula and early printed books meant for an English readership. I’m particularly interested in cheaper books and books which went through multiple editions and what they suggest about less learned and more “popular” reading practices and tastes. I have published articles on Mirk’s Festial, and pilgrimage souvenirs and guides to English shrines.

I also have a wider interest in religious literature in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, especially the ways in which these texts speak to political and pastoral concerns too. My current work focuses on controversial tracts and material, and the ways in which printers and writers might try to negotiate restrictions on their publication and circulation.

I’m currently working on two projects. The first is about the emergence of an early Protestant reader in the 1530s and the ways in which writers and printers attempted to ‘sell’ forbidden books to curious but anxious readers, at the same time as trying to negotiate restrictions on the publication and circulation of their work. The second is about the meanings of silence in Medieval literature.