Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies

Current PhD research

Some of the PhD candidates currently undertaking research in the Centre.

George Bartlett

What's in a name? Christ's epithets in later Byzantine art, c. 1000-1453


My research draws together the different naming inscriptions used to inscribe images of Christ in post-iconoclastic Byzantine art. I consider the function and perception of these epithet inscriptions within the wider artistic and theological contexts of Christ’s name-image paradigm, whilst investing the relationship that these had with Christological iconographies and narrative. Ultimately, this research will shed further light on image-text relations in Byzantine culture and will provide new a better understanding of the important roles that Christ’s image and names played in Orthodox personal and public devotional practices.

Thomas Collins 

Persia in Early Modern English Drama- through Revolt, Regicide, and Restoration 1625- 1665.

My reseach focuses on the unique place of Achaemenid and Safavid Persia in the Early Modern English consciousness. It examines English encounters with, and representations of Persia, from 1625- 1665, in a period of English drama which remains largely unstudied. The study is divided into three distinct chronological chapters; moving through the growing discontent of Charles I’s personal rule, from 1625- 1640, The Civil War Years up until the crescendo of Charles’ execution, 1640- 1648, and finally through the commonwealth, and into the restoration, 1648- 1665. I highlight how Persia became a fluid and malleable dramatic device used to address myriad domestic political concerns, spanning the length of this period of unparalleled volatility. 

Yuri ENJO

Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and Commonplace Book Practice in Grammar School Education

My project explores Spenser’s use of commonplaces in The Faerie Queene in the context of commonplace book culture, which was deeply rooted in Elizabethan readers’ thinking. Commonplace book practice was proposed by Erasmus as part of Latin education, and it was widely followed in grammar schools. To make effective Latin speech, pupils were trained to extract useful sentences from readings and to rearrange them in their commonplace books. As a humanist-inspired framework of thinking, commonplace books prompted early modern readers to reinterpret borrowed knowledge in new contexts. I am curious to know how Spenser uses commonplaces in The Faerie Queene and how early modern readers received them as Spenser’s authorised commonplaces.

Lydia Goodson


Umbrian Patrons 1480-1510: A Study in the Dynamics of Regional Patronage 


Between 1480 and 1510 the churches of Northern Umbria underwent a period of palpable renovation and adornment. The extent of works commissioned simultaneously within this small geographical area means that research on Umbrian patronage has the potential to broaden our understanding of a significant area of art production in the Renaissance and to deepen our comprehension of the operation of patronage as a social practice. I am working to trace networks of patrons and the way ideas about images and artists spread in this small geographical area, and to consider connections between the interests of individual patrons and the ‘look’ of particular works of art.

Munire Zeyneb Maksudoglu 

‘Turkes’ and ‘Franks’: Allies and Adversaries in Early Modern English and Ottoman Writing (1580-1620).

My research focuses on the intersections of knowledge/mercantilism and literature in the early modern world, specifically between Elizabethan England and Ottoman Empire. I also look at different methods for fitting the intercultural relations of Elizabethan England into larger, often global frameworks of the early modernity. The encounter with exotic alterity and theatrical representations inspired by that encounter is one leg of my research. The other involves double archival research in The National Archives, London and The Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives, Istanbul respectively in an attempt to make a comparative study of the ‘gaze’ to the other. I also am thinking about how the circulation and contamination of knowledge in the Early Modern period through diplomacy and trade helped the formation of new ideologies like imperialism and pluralism.

Nicole Mennell


Shakespeare's Sovereign Beasts: Political Discourse and Human/ Animal Relations in Early Modern Drama.


My thesis explores the connections made between figures of sovereignty and animals in early modern texts. Through a historical and philosophical exploration of the relationship monarchs, and other political figures, share with animals, the study explores early modern conceptions of the human, the anxieties regarding the permeable boundaries between man and beast, and the concerns of tyrannical governance. I am especially interested in the ways in which animals were used to symbolise the power and status of political leaders, both figuratively and literally, in the early modern period and how this reliance conversely serves to undermine anthropocentrism.

Charlotte Potter

'Are you meditating on virginity?': Virginity, Metaphor and the Female Body in Early Modern England.

My doctoral research investigates how virginity was represented through metaphor, and in turn was used as a metaphor, in early modern drama. I trace dominant cultural loci of virginity, such as the goddess Diana, distinct metaphor clusters, such as virginity as rotting matter or a walled city, and trends, such as personification, across literary, religious, legal, medical and political discourses, as well as visual art. Understanding the metaphorical construction of virginity, and the currency with which these metaphors moved through various discourses, suggests how virginity is a useful conceptual nexus for understanding the period in a more interdisciplinary way, and prompts new ways of thinking about the role of metaphor in human cognition.  

Michele Robinson


My research examines childhood and childrearing practices in early modern Italy, focusing on sixteenth century Bolognese homes. Through the examination of sources such as inventories, wills, treatises, paintings, prints and objects in museum collections, my thesis highlights the key and complex role of material culture in raising and educating children in the domestic context. Considering a range of households, from the city's elite to those of the 'middling-sort', my project not only sheds light on various aspects of childhood during this period, but also on Bolognese domestic life more broadly.

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