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Ways of Belonging in Reformation London: Religion, Class and Gender in the ‘Emotional Communities’ of Early Modern London


Project Description

Current scholarship on the English Reformation is focused on the ways in which the clash between conversion and confessionalization facilitated the growth of modern ideas of personal identity. But to date this work has focused on individual identities, rather than the links that tie those individuals to larger groups. In this regard early modern English studies lags behind continental debates, which have explicitly considered the emotional aspects of the construction of religious confessions. A focus on medical discourses also makes it harder to connect research on the emotions with another important aspect of identities being pursued in early modern literary studies: inter-subjectivity. Several scholars have shown the fundamentally social nature of early modern habits of thought, so that even introspection is understood in dramatic and dialogic terms. For this project, we take our lead from Barbara Rosenwein’s examination the words through which past communities expressed their links to each other. This project will move forward the debate about the role of the emotions in the formation of early modern individual and community identities. You will analyse the terms used to describe the different ways in which early modern Londoners expressed their sense of belonging to the various communities within the city: in guilds, wards, in families. You will also examine the treatment of those who lay outside these ‘worlds within worlds’ that structure life in the city. You will study the huge variety of literary and archival sources available from early modern London: plays, poems and sermons, and the extensive and detailed records of the London Corporation, London parishes and the city’s trade guilds. Your supervisors are expert in the interpretation of these sources and will facilitate your research in a multi-disciplinary framework.

Funding Notes

This is eligible to self-funded students or students who have already gained funding from a body external to the UoR.

See the admission requirements for PhD programme in our department.

How good is research at University of Reading in English Language and Literature?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 27.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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