Early Modern Post


Elizabeth Williamson, Queen Mary, University of London

I am an early career researcher blogging on the early modern: conferences I’ve been to, topics I find interesting, bits from my research, and the occasional rant. I was awarded my PhD in July 2012, and since then have been working what you could call an ‘alt ac’ career, with ambitions to get a permanent post at some point.

Originally intended to bring interesting snippets from my PhD out of my ivory tower and into the wider world, my blog now focuses more on my recent research and musings on the early career process and the university more generally.

My doctoral research focused on the gathering, transmission and preservation of political information sent from diplomatic agents abroad to their contacts and patrons in early modern England. As well as news and intelligence networks, my research interests include travel and the ars apodemica (or the art of travel) in terms of young men cutting their teeth on the continent as preparation for more official or sanctioned diplomatic work; the early modern embassy enveloped more people than just the commissioned ambassador.

I am particularly interested in the after-life of political or diplomatic letters in the early modern archive or manuscript collection, and how letters can function in different ways in these later contexts, whether as self-justification, extension of political influence, political record or historical resource. The wider subjects of manuscripts as material objects, scholarly editing and the digital humanities are also very important to me.

I also worked for three years as the research assistant on the Diplomatic Correspondence of Thomas Bodley, 1585 – 1597 project at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. This involved participating in the editorial development of the project, as well as transcribing, proof-reading and encoding a proportion of the corpus of almost 1,500 letters. The project allows interactive access to a huge body of letters, complete with full editorial apparatus and a variety of navigational methods, which offers scholars an invaluable resource on early modern diplomacy, international relations, letter-writing, social and information networks, intelligencing, and many more less obvious subjects touched on in the letters.


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