Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Womenswriting (Women’s Plague Writing in Early Modern England)
Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-08-31
Recent scholarship has illuminated the important ways in which women contributed to early modern medical discourse and care. Large-scale digitization projects of manuscripts at major research libraries have increased visibility of the texts in which women shared medical knowledge. My project applies a historicist reading to women’s plague writing, while critically extending the genres and forms of writing typically discussed in plague writing studies. This approach allows me to access and interpret the diverse texts created by women in response to plague in early modern England, including spiritual diaries, letters, recipe books, miscellanies, religious writing, poetry, scientific writing and life writing. As part of this process, my research extends recent work on women’s active participation in early modern medicine, to capture how women increased knowledge of the disease, its treatment and scientific basis in early modern England. My research project lies at the forefront of recent, specific developments in the medical humanities that change how we think about women and science by illuminating the ways in which women shared their knowledge of medicine and medical issues.
I have engaged in a range of professional development activities that have bolstered my skill set and ability to address my subject successfully. In April 2018, I attended the London Bills of Mortality Symposium at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. spending three days with eminent scholars in the fields of plague literature and history. The Symposium leaders are organising a corresponding edited volume, which will include my chapter, ‘ “we are yet in the Land of the Living”: Women and Mortality Statistics During the Great Plague of London, 1665’.
My professional development activities have included extensive work on English paleography and developing my accompanying skill set. This is essential to my work on manuscript texts. My study in this area has been fostered by opportunities to work with the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC). I have participated in two transcribathons: one organized by EMROC in November 2017 and another convened by the Folger Institute as part of their Introduction to English Paleography course in December 2018. I have submitted blog post proposals to the Early Modern Recipe Online Collective, and I hope to write on my experience recreating a plague recipe at the European Researchers’ Night event taking place at Trinity College Dublin in September 2019. I was accepted to the Introduction to English Paleography course, which took place in December 2018, and the Teaching Paleography course, which was held in August 2019, both of which were organised by the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library. These two courses have not only increased my skills as a paleographer and given me the necessary knowledge to transcribe for publication, but they have also placed me in a position to teach other students of paleography in the future.
Research for my monograph entitled Women’s Plague Writing in Early Modern England has progressed apace. To date I have researched extensively toward the entire book and have written up half of the monograph. I have also submitted the article ‘Plague Recipes in the News’ to the journal the Seventeenth Century. As my scholarly network has grown over the course of the fellowship, I have had the opportunity to organize my own edited volume, entitled Medicine and Religion in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1550-1800. Leading contributors, from the fields of religion, medical history and Atlantic studies, have committed chapters to the project. I am contributing the chapter ‘Printing England’s Plague Past in New England’ to the volume, as well as composing the book’s introduction.