Dr Tawny Paul

Research interests

I am currently engaged in three research projects:

The first, entitled 'Precarious Lives', is an account of the economic culture and identity of Britain's lower middling sort in the eighteenth century. We tend to think of the middle class as aspirational and upwardly mobile. Yet in the eighteenth century, as many as one in four middling men would spend time in a debtors' prison. The project focuses on those lower middling men, perched between success and failure, who struggled to navigate and shape a new social and economic world. It considers how the insecurities faced by the lower middling shaped economic practices and social/gender identities. The project is supported by fellowships from the Huntington Library, the Clark Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

My second project, in collaboration with Prof. Jeremy Boulton at Newcastle University, is a pilot project which investigates the research potential of  British Debtors' Schedules. These documents quantititative data about the wealth and networks of those who were imprisoned for debt. Using a sample of schedules from London, research focuses on themes of wealth, work and credit in eighteenth-century Britain. The project is supported by the Economic History Society.

My third project is in the field of public history. Focusing on portraiture as a case study, it investigates the potential of visual arts to communicate historical concepts to the public. Project outputs include a collection of essays, co-edited with Rebecca Bush. Beginning with the concept of 'artist intervention', the volume. explores multiple avenues for artist/historical collaboration, from museum spaces, to public programming, to education. A link to the publication can be found here.

Previous heritage research focused on representations of migration in Scotland. Funded by the Scottish Government, this work contributed to the development of Diaspora Engagement Policy.