Here are some of the people working on early modern English nuns
in various capacities
Heartfelt thanks to all early modern #nuntastic scholars for their help in compiling these pages.
Cormac Begadon is Assistant Professor in the History of Catholicism in the Department of Theology, Durham University. He is a historian of early modern religious and intellectual culture, with a particular research interest in Catholic religious and their interactions with the Enlightenment and French Revolution. Currently he is researching the history of the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre (Sepulchrines) at Liège, exploring the theme of gender and the Catholic Enlightenment.
From 2015-17 he was a member of the AHRC-funded Monks in Motion Project, based at Durham University. From 2017-19 he was employed on a project exploring the history of Goldenbridge, a large centre of institutional and educational care in Dublin, founded in the mid-nineteenth century. The project was undertaken in conjunction with the Sisters of Mercy and University College Dublin. He is currently finishing a monograph, ‘Goldenbridge, 1855-1910: a history of Catholic institutional care’. Cormac writes on Twitter @SepsCollections.
Caroline Bowden is Senior Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London; she led several major projects to fruition; including: The English Convents in Exile 1600-1800, 6 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2012-2013 and the Who Were the Nuns? website and database. She also co edited with James Kelly The English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800. Communities, Culture and Identities, Farnham, Ashgate, 2013. Her current research is focused on books and learning in the convents with a number of papers presented in 2017 and chapters underway for publication next year (2018).
In recent years, she has published an article, ‘Building libraries in exile: The English convents and their book collections in the seventeenth century. British Catholic History, 32 (2015) : 343-382, a book chapter ‘The English convents in exile and their neighbours: extended networks, patrons and benefactors’, in Helen Hackett (ed.), Early Modern Exchanges: Intercultural Encounters and dialogues, 1500-1700 ‘Ashgate, 2015), and an edition of primary sources Chronicles of Nazareth (English Convent, Bruges) 1629-1793 (Catholic Record Society and Boydell and Brewer, 2017). Another book chapter is to be published soon: ‘English Reading Communities in Exile: Introducing Cloistered Nuns to their Books’ in Women’s Bookscapes in Early Modern Britain: Reading, Ownership, Circulation, Leah Knight and Micheline White (eds.), (University of Michigan Press, 2018).
Marie-Louise Coolahan is Professor of English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She is the author of Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2010). She is currently Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project, RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700 .
Liesbeth Corens‘s work focuses on minority Catholicism as an insightful case study to analyse the Counter-Reformation. Her first book assesses the lay English Catholic expatriate experience in terms of a broad concept of ‘confessional mobility’ (forthcoming with OUP). It encourages a more flexible interpretation of movement and its implications for belonging to communities. Changing perspective opens up our study to include pilgrims, grand tour travellers, students, and mobile scholars alongside exiles. The diversity of mobility highlights that those abroad were never cut off, isolated on the Continent. Rather, through correspondence and constant travel they created a community without borders. This cross-Channel community was not defined by its status as victims of persecution, but provided the lifeblood for English Catholics for generations.
Her next project is about archives and record keeping, through the prism of the ‘counter-archives’ which Catholics minorities (both English and Dutch) started to create in the later seventeenth century. Rather than understanding the collections as unproblematic repositories, she acknowledges them as practices and processes. She explores how and why the compilations were put together, what selection has been made, and what the ordering of the material has done to its interpretations. An important context for these commemorations is the exclusion of Catholics from the dominant narratives of both England and the Dutch Republic. While official archives and accounts had produced a narrative of the Protestant nation in which Catholics were either excluded or acted as the villains, the Catholic collections aimed to save the memory and reputation of their ancestors. Liesbeth has recently published an article and contributed two edited volumes on that subject with Alexandra Walsham and Kate Peters. Her monograph, Confessional Mobility and English Catholics in Counter-Reformation Europe, was published with OUP in 2019. Liesbeth is on Twitter @onslies.
Jaime Goodrich is an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on the writings of early modern Englishwomen as well as a monograph on the social and political functions of women’s devotional translations (Faithful Translators: Authorship, Gender, and Religion in Early Modern England, Northwestern University Press, 2014).
Her current research focuses on writing in Benedictine and Franciscan convents for Englishwomen on the Continent. She is working on the following projects: 1) a monograph on textual production and spirituality in English Benedictine convents, 1600-1800; 2) with Laurence Lux-Sterritt, an edition of texts related to quarrels among the English Benedictines in Brussels; 3) an edition of the writings of Catherine Magdalen Evelyn, a member of the English Poor Clares at Gravelines and Aire. Jaime can be found on Twitter @JaimeLGoodrich.
Nicky Hallett is interested in the life-writing of early modern nuns. They produced an amazing array of work, fascinating in its diversity and opening new perspectives on political and religious change in Europe.
She has published a number of chapters and essays, and a study of The Senses in Religious Communities, 1600-1800: Early Modern ‘Convents of Pleasure’ (2013), as well editions of previously undisclosed manuscripts: Lives of Spirit: English Carmelite Self-Writing of the Early Modern Period (2007) and Witchcraft, Exorcism and the Politics of Possession in a Seventeenth Century Convent: ‘How Sister Ursula was once bewitched and Sister Margaret twice’ (2007). She also edited a volume in Caroline Bowden’s series on English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800: Life Writing I (2012). She continues to research, having retired in 2016 from the University of Sheffield.
Previously a Benedictine nun at Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, North Yorkshire (founded at Cambrai, 1623) Scholastica Jacob is now a final year PhD student at the Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University, supervised by Dr James Kelly. Her doctoral thesis is entitled: ‘From Exile to Exile: Repatriation, resettlement, and the contemplative experience of English Benedictine nuns in England 1795–1838’. This proposes that a revisionist approach to the study of the returning English convents in the nineteenth century is required: one which examines the re-establishment of contemplative life in England through the lens of exile and identity. It explores the on-going history of the Benedictines from Brussels, Cambrai, Ghent, Paris and Dunkirk after their arrival in England. Scholastica’s areas of research include the development of devotional practices, the rebuilding of the nuns’ libraries, the re-establishment of monastic observance in pre-Emancipation England. In particular this work views the nuns in the context of their engagement with Catholic Enlightenment thought and the backlash to it in the early nineteenth century.
While her current research focusses on the Benedictines, Scholastica is also gathering information on the experience of the other English convents who re-located to England and hopes to develop this work in the future. She has also worked on the establishment of women’s Benedictine contemplative life within the Anglican Church in the nineteenth century and the links between Catholic and Anglican communities: another area for future development.
James Kelly is Sweeting Fellow in the History of Catholicism at Durham University. He leads the History of Catholicism research strand within the university’s Centre for Catholic Studies, which has run several projects on the history of women religious. In this role, he acts as conference director of the biennial Early Modern British and Irish Catholicism conference, which is organized jointly by Durham University and the University of Notre Dame, USA (he is also an adjunct professor at the latter). He was Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project, ‘Monks in Motion,’ (@monksinmotion on Twitter) which investigated the experience of the English and Welsh Benedictines in exile, c.1553–1800, and was a member of the AHRC-funded ‘Who Were the Nuns?’ project, acting as Project Manager of its follow-on initiative. He is joint general editor of the recently commissioned five-volume The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism (Oxford University Press, expected 2022).
He is the author of English Convents in Catholic Europe, 1600–1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and has edited several works on early modern English nuns, including volume 5 on convent management in the 6-volume The English Convents in Exile 1600-1800, gen ed. Caroline Bowden (Pickering & Chatto, 2012–2013), and co-edited with Caroline Bowden The English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800: Communities, Culture and Identities (Ashgate, 2013).
Jenna Lay is associate Professor in the English Department at Lehigh University. She studies early modern English literature, with specific attention to post-Reformation religious culture, poetry and poetics, female authors, and the intersection of manuscript and print technologies. After receiving her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2009, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first book, Beyond the Cloister: Catholic Englishwomen and Early Modern Literary Culture, was published in 2017 with the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Laurence Lux-Sterritt is Senior Lecturer of early modern English Studies at Aix-Marseille Université (France); she is affiliated to the LERMA (E.A. 853) research centre. Before becoming more specifically interested in English nuns, she had published a monograph —Redefining Female Religious Life. French Ursulines and English Ladies in Seventeenth Century Catholicism (Ashgate, 2005)— and several articles on Mary Ward and the French Ursulines, both in French and English.
After becoming associated with the Who Were the Nuns? Project, she focused her research on English nuns; she edited the second volume (Spirituality) of the six-volume series English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800 (Pickering and Chatto, 2012-2013) and contributed a chapter to Bowden, Caroline and James E. Kelly (eds.), The English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800, Communities, Culture and Identity (Ashgate, 2013). She has focused more specifically on the Benedictine order, particularly in her latest monograph, English Benedictine Nuns in Exile in the Seventeenth Century. Living Spirituality (Manchester University Press, 2017). For that study, her research touched upon the topics of materiality, spirituality, the body, emotions, and the senses. She is currently involved with Jaime Goodrich in the edition of the manuscripts documenting the controversy at the Benedictine convent of Brussels. Follow on Twitter @LuxSterritt
She is the coordinator of the early modern research programme for the Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (LERMA) at Aix-Marseille University; as part of that programme, her personal and collaborative research focuses on lived religion. Follow the programme on Twitter @Britaix17_18
Jessica McCandless is a Postgraduate student at The University of Adelaide, completing her research on ‘Seventeenth-Century English Nuns in Exile: Mysticism and Emotion’ under the supervision of Claire Walker and Katie Barclay. She is also a postgraduate researcher for the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. Focusing on the English Carmelites in Antwerp, Jessica’s thesis seeks to understand the emotional context of seventeenth-century mysticism. Her work will consider spiritual, literary, communal and spatial emotional influence on early modern nuns’ spiritual writing and experiences. ARC CHE Project page. See also Twitter: @jess_mccandless
Following a first degree in History and English Literature at the University of Durham, Katie McKeogh moved to Oxford in 2011 to begin graduate work in History. She completed the MSt in Modern British and European History in 2012 and the DPhil in 2018, both under the supervision of Dr Susan Brigden FBA and Dr Alexandra Gajda. Katie is currently the Sir Christopher Cox Junior Fellow at New College, Oxford.
Katie’s work is concerned with the transformation of English society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, concentrating on the experience of Catholics and the ways in which they shaped, and were shaped by, English culture. Her doctoral thesis, ‘Sir Thomas Tresham (1543-1605) and Early Modern Catholic Culture and Identity, 1580-1610’, focused on a significant member of the English Catholic elite. It explored non-traditional and non-violent forms of political resistance through the examination of important cultural spheres: libraries and architecture. Her post-doctoral work, under the working title ‘Gentleman Scholars and the “Englishing” of the Catholic Community, 1560-1660’, explores the role that Catholics played in antiquarian activity, how collecting and compiling historical material allowed those faithful to a proscribed religion to shape English culture in their own time and beyond.
Katie has broader research interests in British cultural and religious history, the history of the book, and music. She has consulted for the National Trust (Lyveden New Bield) on Tresham’s building projects and for Stonor Park on Elizabeth and Jacobean recusancy. Her publications are featured on Academia. You can follow Katie on Twitter @DrKLMcKeogh
Tonya J. Moutray is an Associate Professor of English at the Sage Colleges in Troy, NY, where she serves as Department Chair and teaches courses on 18th-and 19th-Century British Literature, Nursing and Literature, Children’s Literature, and Women’s Literature. She was a Chawton House Library Fellow in June of 2017 where she began researching her latest project: the emergence of nun-inspired fashion trends in women’s clothing during the Regency Era. She is the author of Refugee Nuns, the French Revolution, and British Literature and Culture. New York: Routledge Press, 2016. Follow Tonya on Twitter @msjoyboy.
She is working on her monograph project, The Reformation of the Soundscape: Music and Piety in Early Modern England, and has published widely on the role of music in the lives of post-Reformation English Catholics both at home and in exile abroad. For the role of music in the lives of English émigré nuns in particular see: ‘A Sense of Place: Hearing English Catholicism in the Spanish Habsburg Territories, 1568-1659’ in Emilie K. M. Murphy, Robin Macdonald and Elizabeth Swann eds. Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (London: Routledge, 2018). Emilie is currently researching the translation and transmission of female-authored texts within and between the convents founded for English women on the continent. Her forthcoming article in The Historical Journal ‘Language and Power in an English Convent in Exile’ investigates the ways English Benedictine nuns in Brussels in the 1620s negotiated language barriers with their male superiors. She is also working on a project that considers questions of language competence and acquisition across early modern English convents in exile more broadly. For more on her research and publications please follow her on twitter @emilieKMmurphy
Annie Price is a project archivist at the University of Exeter’s Special Collections. She is currently responsible for cataloguing the Syon Abbey archive, the records of the English Bridgettine community (1415-2011). See her project blog on the cataloguing of the Syon Abbey archive. See also Twitter: @annierprice_
Laura Roberts is a DPhil candidate focusing on women and religion in the early modern period at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral project examines the religious ideas and images used to talk about national identity and belonging by English nuns in continental exile during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After receiving her BA in History from Duke University, Laura completed her MPhil in British and European History at Oxford.
Claire Schiano has just started on her PhD research under the supervision of Dr Laurence Lux-Sterritt, at Aix-Marseille University; she is affiliated to the LERMA. Her doctoral project is entitled ‘Survival and rise of catholicism: spiritual experience in french and english poor glares convent of the early modern period.’ It analyzes the different aspects of female religious life within english and french Poor Clares convents of the early modern period through a comparative study of the characteristics of contemplative lives.
I’ve found that English and French Poor Clares convents are located in the same geographic area, thus, it makes the comparison even more relevant. This research projet will determine the influence of the religious and political context upon the creation of each convent’s identity and its impact on the french and english nuns’ daily religious practices. This work details the political and religious context that forced the catholic nuns to leave England, but also focuses on the rule of St Clare and its fundamental values. It also includes the hierarchical status, conflicts and violence within the convent. I pay a particular attention to the various religious practices and experiences of the Poor Clare in two different contexts: stability for the french nuns and precariousness for the english nuns. I pay a particular attention to the female body that I defined as locus, vector but also enemy of the spirituality and holiness. This research deals with the role of senses in the spiritual experience because if they are supposed to be annihilated, we can observe that they have a particular presence in the daily religious lives of these women.
Keywords: lived spirituality, convents, catholics, body, exile, devotion
Follow on Twitter @ClaireSchiano
Martin Thompson is a PhD student in the Department of English, American Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. His interdisciplinary project entitled ‘Prepare the Canons!’: Mary Ward and her followers at the vanguard of ‘Life editing’ seeks to place early modern life writing by and about the Catholic exile Mary Ward (1585-1645) in broader intellectual, cultural and historical contexts in order to interrogate assumptions about early modern life writing and its relation to gender, confessional identity and literary tradition.
His Master’s study at the John Rylands Library and Research Institute led to a particular interest in the materiality of texts and the transmission and ownership history of Catholic manuscripts. His archive-based research therefore also considers the complicated afterlives of these texts and the insight they provide into continuities and profound transformations in Catholic culture across time and space.
Victoria Van Hyning
Victoria also works on crowdsourcing projects with Zooniverse.org, the world-leading academic crowdsourcing platform. In 2015 Zooniverse, in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, D.C.) and the Oxford English Dictionary, launched Shakespeare’s World, an early modern manuscript transcription project. In the discussion forum, Victoria encourages volunteers to use #Catholic and #womanwriter to identify manuscripts that contain information relevant to these broad categories. So far, volunteers have transcribed nearly 7,000 pages, many of which contain material pertaining to Catholics and women writers. Victoria will use these findings in her future literary work.