Research Students associated with the Centre

 

Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth, Willing Women: Testamentary Texts as Constructs of Female Identity in the South West (1625-1660).

Department: English
Supervisors: Ayesha Mukherjee and Felicity Henderson

My project looks at the wills of women written between 1625 and 1660 and argues that they can be read not only as historical documents, but also as literary texts.

 

Tessa Crossley, A Systematic Study of John Milton as a Reader of the Bible.

Department: English
Supervisors: Karen Edwards and Nicholas McDowell
Funding: Vice Chancellor's Scholarship

 

Jake Dyble, General Average in the Port of Livorno, 1640-1795.

Department: History
Supervisors: Maria Fusaro (Exeter), Andrea Addobbati (Pisa)
Funding: European Research Council

General Average (GA) is an aspect of maritime law with a long history, with origins stretching back to the ancient world. A type of mutual insurance, it was compulsory for all traffic in the Mediterranean, European, and European-colonial spheres, and required that all involved in a maritime voyage contribute to the restitution of certain damages. Inherently international by nature, there were nevertheless significant regional variations in the way it was understood during the early-modern period. My research examines the impact of GA on the structure of international exchange, and explores the diplomatic, legal, and cultural clashes that it produced. The free port of Livorno, both intensely cosmopolitan and a pivotal node in international exchange, provides an excellent case study.

 

Imogene Dudley, Women's Waged Work in the South of England, 1644-1700. Three Case Studies from Devon, Somerset and Hampshire.

Department: History
Supervisors: Jane Whittle and Freyja Cox Jensen
Funding: Leverhulme Trust

My research uses household account books from three different south-west estates to explore the issues surrounding women's work in the seventeenth century; namely, the gender division of labour, women's wages and the gender pay gap, and how age, marital status and motherhood affected women's working lives.

 

Barbara Dunn, ‘Astrology is higher and nobler than medicine and every physician should be an astrologer’:  The Astrological Figure and the ‘Prognostical part of Physick’ c. 1580-1700.

Department: History
Supervisors: Jonathan Barry and Peter Elmer
Funding: The Wellcome Trust

An examination of the working practices of English astrologer-physicians, as they were shaped and informed by the Astrological Figure (a ‘horoscope’). The aims are broadly twofold: firstly, to reconstruct the organisation, routines, rituals, encounters and processes of an early modern astrological-medical practice; secondly, to interrogate the astrologer-physicians’ understanding and application of the evidence contained within the Figure.  A unique combination of source material is analysed and integrated: astrological guides, casebooks, almanacs, papers and personal correspondence, together with Greek, Arabic and Latin astrological material in translation. The evidence generated by the Figures is critical to our understanding of early modern medicine and it is hoped that the results of my research may prompt a re-examination of the premises of existing astrological-medical scholarship.

 

Harry Ford, Shakespeare and Botanic Creation

Department: English
Supervisors: Felicity Henderson and Karen Edwards

Whether Titania's flowery bed or Ophelia's garlands that spring to mind, Shakespeare had a strange desire to introduce plants into his plays and even bring them onto stage. This might sound like a harmless hobby, but depending on which plants were evoked they could either align a writer with post-reformation progress or a medieval world of saints and martyrs. By using ethnobotanic techniques it is possible to show how the uses and beliefs surrounding plants in Shakespeare's plays can bring insight into his outlook on the universe.

 

Anna-Lujz Gilbert, The Place of Books in Parochial Communities: Parish Libraries of Early Modern Devon.

Department: English
Supervisors: Felicity Henderson (Exeter) and Paddy Bullard (Reading)
Funding: AHRC (SWW DTP)

Research summary: My project focusses on parish libraries in early modern Devon to uncover the local cultures of reading, sharing and collecting books that created them, and to reflect more widely on parochial book use among the clergy and middling sorts. Parish libraries have been neglected in studies of early modern reading but are rich sources of evidence for looking at book use outside of educational centres such as the universities, and beyond the collections of the very wealthy.

 

Austen Hamilton, Speculative House Builders as Entrepreneurs in Georgian London

Department: History
Supervisors: Henry French and Jonathan Barry

This project aims to construct career profiles of speculative house builders in London. It focusses on the period between Nicholas Barbon (1637-1698), considered the first modern property developer, and Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855), founder of the first integrated building firm, and questions the apparent absence of major entrepreneurs in the industry in the intervening period. It looks particularly at how speculative builders financed their operations and seeks to identify the factors that made them successful or otherwise.

 

Harry R. McCarthy, Boy Actors on the Early Modern Stage Performance, Physicality and the Work of Play.

Department: English
Supervisors: Pascale Aebischer (Exeter) and Eleanor Rycroft (Bristol)
Funding: AHRC (SWW DTP)

My research attends to the neglected but central role of boy players in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, exploring how their exuberant physicality affected not only their productions, but the way plays were written for them in the first place. Drawing on a wide range of plays from adult and child companies performed c. 1580-1640, I consider the widespread, yet scarcely examined, theatrical labour behind boy actors’ performance through a combination of theatre history and present-day performance practice. In attending more closely to the material, embodied, and active stage practices of boy actors throughout the early modern period, the thesis ultimately seeks to re-evaluate what it meant—and took—to work as a boy actor in the golden age of English drama.

 

Robert Nantes, Bankruptcy in Eighteenth-Century England: A Social Account.

Department: History
Supervisors: Tawny Paul and Jonathan Barry

Robert's research seeks to uncover the forgotten experience of some of the many thousands of people who became bankrupts in eighteenth-century England. Sources drawn on include: legal records, personal correspondence, newspapers, advice literature, novels and plays.

 

Jim Porteous, 'The Spatialising of Actions': Versions of London on Stage at Paul's and Blackfriars, 1604-06.

Department: English
Supervisors: Pascale Aebischer and Chloe Preedy

I am studying the dialectical relationship between four plays (Westward Ho, Eastward Ho, Northward Ho, The Isle of Gulls) and, in particular, their versions of contemporary London.

 

Esther van Raamsdonk, Anglo-Dutch Relations in Milton and Marvell.

Department: English
Supervisor: Nicholas McDowell
Funding: AHRC

The project looks at Dutch influences in the works of Milton and Marvell. As well as using English works I have provided original translations of several early modern Dutch sources not previously available in English, thereby enriching our picture of political and cultural relations between the two nations. I am particularly interested in the exchange of cultural aspects between Britain and the United Provinces, and how this influenced the intertwined Anglo-Dutch literary environment.

 

Amy Ridgway, Wage labour and poverty on a Dorset estate, c.1680-1834.

Department: History
Supervisors: Jane Whittle and Henry French
Funding: ESRC

Amy's PhD will be a comprehensive analysis of wage labour and poverty on the Kingston Lacy estate in east Dorset. As such, it will help bridge the gap in current literature by directly linking these two topics. It will consider how individuals and households managed to survive at the subsistence level and what happened if they did not manage to 'get by'. Account books will be triangulated with poor relief records to try to ascertain whether there were certain periods when estate workers were reliant upon relief.

 

Denise Ross, Sacred Wells: Survivors of Cultural Change

Department: English
Supervisors: Philip Schwyzer and Joanne Parker

My project examines change and continuity in the perception and use of these wells in the West of England and Wales, tracing their social significance across time, and continuing on into their relationship to modern society.

 

Ben Shears, Novel Discoveries and Enlightened Characters: Subjective Experience in Voltaire's 'Contes philosophiques' and the Novels of Samuel Richardson.

Department: French/English
Supervisors: Melissa Percival, Henry Power, Helena Taylor
Funding: Niklaus-Cartwright Scholarship

My doctoral work, using the framework of John Locke's epistemology, charts the subjective nature of the experience of characters across Voltaire's 'Contes philosophiques' and selected novels of Samuel Richardson, contending that the truth as is discovered by each character is different according to context, action, 'a priori' (or innate) and 'a posteriori' (or based on experience) ideas.

 

Hannah Slajus, The Body as Medicine: Human Ingredients in Seventeenth-Century England.

Department: History
Supervisors: Sarah Toulalan and Alun Withey

 

Katie Snow, Satirising the Breast: Visions of Maternity and Sexuality in Late Eighteenth-Century England.

Department: English
Supervisors: Corinna Wagner and Andrew Rudd
Funding: Vice Chancellor's Scholarship

My research investigates representations of the female breast within satirical prints, specifically tracing contemporary constructions of natural and unnatural femininity. Through close consideration of the political, medical and cultural contexts in which images of the breast appeared, it seeks to analyse the relationship between maternal ideologies and female identity, focusing especially on sexuality. Situated within the medical humanities, my thesis draws upon a wide cultural body of work - I use poetry, novels, medical texts, diaries and magazines in additional to satirical and pornographic prints.

 

Lewis Wade, Maritime Trade and State Regulation: Maritime Averages in France During the Seventeenth Centruy

Department: History
Supervisors: Maria Fusaro and Nandini Chatterjee
Funding: European Research Council

I am studying the activities of what were, on the surface, state-sponsored insurance institutions established during the reign of Louis XIV. I hope to shed light on how Colbertian economic policy influenced maritime trade during a period of both military struggle for the French state and growing French commercial momentum in the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds.

 

Thomas Vozar, Milton and the Idea of the Sublime in the Seventeenth Century.

Department: English
Supervisors: Karen Edwards (English) and Matthew Wright (Classics)
Funding: Exeter International Excellence Scholarship for Postgraduate Research

My dissertation is concerned with Milton and the concept of the sublime. Though the notion of Milton as a sublime poet is so common as to be almost a cliché, scholarship has never fully explored Milton in relation to the sublime, no doubt because it has been perceived as a largely post-Miltonic concept first formulated in the context of eighteenth-century aesthetic theory. My research, building on recent scholarship on the sublime in classical antiquity and the Renaissance, provides both a historical exposition of the sublime as a pre-aesthetic concept and an exegesis of the sublime in Milton's works.

 

Sonia Wigh: The Body of Words: A Social History of Sex and the Body in Medieval India

Department: History
Supervisors: Sarah Toulalan & Nandini Chatterjee
Funding: University of Exeter (College of Humanities)

My proposed research will examine the history and construction of human sexualities and gender identities vis-a-vis the body in medieval north India. I will do so through an interdiscplinary study of literary compositions and their accompanying visual representations, produced between c. 1526 and 1748, in Persian, Hindavi, Braj and nascent Urdu.

Martha Wubbels, A Healthy Interest: Diets, Exercise and Ideal Bodies in England and Holland, 1650-1800.

Department: History
Supervisors: Sarah Toulalan and Hester Schadee
Funding: Wellcome Trust

My thesis will analyse diet and exercise advice and practices to investigate attitudes to ‘healthy bodies’ in Dutch and English printed medical literature, physician’s casebooks, patient-physician correspondence, and recipe books between 1650 and 1800. With modern concerns around increasing obesity rates and an ever-growing body of dietary advice in both medical and popular literature, a study of diets and exercise in the past can help us understand where our current ideas and ideals concerning body and health originate. The key goals of this project are to locate the health values and practices that were being promoted at this time; to assess to what extent dietary advice and ideals reached lay society; to analyse to what extent patients followed advice and made dietary and exercise considerations part of their ‘lifestyle’; and to examine attitudes to ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ bodies and bodily ideals in late seventeenth and eighteenth-century Dutch and English society. Examining manuscript and printed sources in a geographically comparative study will provide a rich and in-depth understanding of contemporary ‘health cultures’ and bodily ideals. In so doing the thesis will analyse how far we can identify the development of a modern ‘health culture’ in this period.