Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth, Wills as Constructs of Female Self-Identity in the Seventeenth-Century South-West

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My project looks at the wills of women written between 1625 and 1660 and argues that they can be read not only as historical documents, but also as literary texts.

 

James Alsop, Playing Dead: Living Death in Early Modern Drama.

Department: English
Supervisors: Philip Schwyzer and Pascale Aebischer

My primary research interest is the representation of death and dying in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and the symbolic or metatheatrical potential of instances of “living death”. My future research will build on the foundations of my doctoral thesis by exploring new connections between early modern drama and modern day performance. I aim to compare the early modern living dead with their modern equivalents, and in doing so will develop new readings of performances of death on stage in relation to their historical and socio-political contexts.

 

Callan Davies, Strange Devices on the Jacobean Stage: Image, Spectacle, and the Materialisation of Morality.

Department: English
Supervisors: Pascale Aebischer and Johanna Harris
Funding: AHRC

Concentrating on six plays in the 1610s, my thesis explores the ways theatrical visual effects described as “strange” channel the period’s moral anxieties about rhetoric, technology, and scepticism. It contributes to debates in repertory studies, textual and material culture, intellectual history, and theatre history, and to recent revisionist considerations of spectacle.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Marion Hardy, People on the move in Devon c.1600 to c. 1800

Department: History
Supervisors: Jane Whittle and Henry French

My research uses mainly sources generated by parishes and quarter sessions to investigate the numbers and nature of the poor or impoverished travellers and vagrants who received alms and/or who were examined by justices and sent 'whither they ought to be sent'. 

 

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.

 

Angela Muir, The Experience of Childbirth for Unmarried Mothers in Eighteenth-Century Wales.

Department: History/Centre for Medical History.
Supervisors: Sarah Toulalan and Alun Withey
Funding: Wellcome Trust and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada).

My current research examines the social, cultural and medical history of childbirth in eighteenth-century Wales. I am particularly interested in illegitimacy, courtship, the experience of reproduction and childbirth for unmarried mothers, perinatal mortality, and midwifery.

 

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.

 

Michelle Webb, As fowle a ladie as the smale pox could make her': facial damage and disfigurement in sixteenth and seventeenth century England.

Department: History/Centre for Medical History
Supervisors: Sarah Toulalan and Laura Sangha
Funding: ARHC

The aim of my thesis is to chart the medical, social, cultural, religious, and sometimes even political implications of having a non-normative face in early modern England. I am using a range of sources including diaries, ballads, medical casebooks, and portraits to investigate the impact which disfigurement could have upon identity, and the extent to which that impact differed according to factors such as the gender or social class of the individual and the reason for their disfigurement. Much of my work is centred upon the existence of a hierarchy of disfigurements, which determined the extent of stigmatization.

 

Nora Williams, Re-reading Thomas Middleton through The Changeling.

Supervisors: Kate Newey and Jane Milling   
Department: Drama
Funding: University of Exeter (College of Humanities International Studentship)

My research focuses on dialogues between the performance and textual histories of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's 1622 play The Changeling. Building on a foundation of research into the play's original performance culture, I use of number of theatrical case studies--ranging from 1961 to 2015--to argue for a re-thinking of the historiography of early modern texts and performances in the digital turn.