Until quite recently, the history of early modern English nuns remained the niche of Catholic scholars and Catholic presses. But although post-Reformation English nuns were left out of the national historical construct for a long time, it is now being revealed that they did take an active part in the construction of English history. In the 2000s, the tide truly turned for the study of early modern English nuns, thanks to the ambitious AHRC and Leverhulme project Who were the nuns? A prosopographical study of the English convents in exile, 1600-1800, based at Queen Mary University of London, and carried by Caroline Bowden. The project website and database have now become the go-to place for anyone interested in early modern English nuns.
These initial insights have since provided invaluable stepping-stones for other studies to explore the links between the exiled convents and their local environments, as well as their attachment to a decidedly English cultural tradition. In addition, a growing number of literary studies have shed light upon the writing activities of the monasteries. Thanks to these recent studies across a range of disciplines, we know more than ever before about English religious women in exile. Their real lives had little to do with the stereotypes found in English anti-Catholic pamphlets which contributed to robbing these communities of their resolve and their diligence in popular imagination. Yet there is much that remains to be explored.
The purpose of this blog is quite simply to give the growing number of scholars working on English nuns a convenient one-stop-shop where, hopefully, they can find useful information. Who is currently working on what? Are there any recent publications? Any relevant conferences? Where are the primary sources that we have identified? Basically, this is the place where I will endeavour to gather all the information I have on all things related to #nuntastic research. All contributions are welcome. All opinions and all mistakes my own.