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Professor James Knowles


Vice-Chancellor's Group

Headshot of Professor James Knowles

Role at Solent

Professor Knowles joined Solent as Vice-Chancellor from his role as Senior Vice-Principal for Education at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he has been responsible for delivering clear, strategic leadership for all aspects of teaching and learning, student experience and student outcomes.


Educated at a comprehensive school, and the universities of London and Oxford, Professor Knowles has previously been Executive Dean and Vice-Principal of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor of Renaissance Literature and Culture and Vice-Dean (Research) at Brunel University, London, and Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature and Head of the School of English at University College, Cork.

Professor Knowles’ own research has focused on the court masque and its political, theatrical and social contexts, especially in Ben Jonson’s masques and entertainments.

His writing and research also cover topics including sexuality and gender in the early modern period and in contemporary writing; space, spatiality and cultural geography; the new histories of the book, including the queer history of the book; and manuscript studies and codicology.

He has been a Leverhulme Trust research fellow and has held grants and fellowships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy, the Huntington Library, California and the Ransom Library, Texas.

External bodies

Professor Knowles is currently Strategic Reviewer for the AHRC and a Member of the AHRC Peer Review College. Other external roles have included school and FE governorships, he is currently a trustee and board member of the AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) and he is also chair designate of The Gunnersbury Museum and Park Development Trust.