Introduction Introduction

The medieval and early-modern research group is the home of a vibrant and diverse array of research across the medieval and early-modern periods, which ranges from saints lives to the history of scholarship, from pirates to the Paston family, from Scotland to Italy, and from Tacitus's reception to travel narratives. 

Two themes stand out which connect all this research.  The first is humanism: the recovery of the classical past. How far was 'Renaissance' humanism something distinctive from earlier medieval modes of reading and imitating classical texts? How does humanism transform as it travels across countries and across time? What are humanism's political and pragmatic implications? And what happens when humanism turns its attention to biblical and ecclesiastical texts?

The second theme is that of archives and the history of the book. The group's research is firmly grounded in the potential of archival scholarship to grant us access to the ways in which the medieval and early-modern period read, wrote, communicated, thought, argued and played.  This research underpins our commitment to widening public access to archives in innovative and challenging ways, through both the 'Unlocking the Archive' project (on Renaissance books and dramatic documents) and in the 'Paston Footprints' project on the long history of the Paston Family. Humanism and archival studies are also the central themes of our MA programme, 'Medieval and Early-Modern Textual Cultures'. 


Dr. Sophie Butler’s main research focuses on the literary essay in early-modern England, and the relationship between the emergence of this new genre and the development and transformation of humanistic culture across the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She also works on the French essayist Montaigne and his earliest reception and influence in England. Her work has a strong archival emphasis, and she is particularly interested in how material forms of composition in manuscript (especially notse-taking and drafting practices) shaped different literary forms of writing. Sophie is also currently working on articles about early-modern life-writing, and the role of early-modern noblewomen as patrons and readers. 

Anthony Gash's work is in the relation between literature and philosophy, and in theatre in particular as a totalizing art form in which all the arts have sought integration and perfection. He founded the now prestigious  teaching programmes in drama,  drama and literature and the MA in theatre directing, and  is currently dedicated  to exploring the philosophical underpinnings of the three disciplines which give the School of Literature, Drama and Creative writing its name. His lifetime’s research has been into the dialogue between Shakespeare and Plato, a recent example being ‘The Dialogic Self in Hamlet: On How Dramatic Form Transforms philosophical enquiry’ in ed. Hagberg, Fictional characters, real problems, The Search for Ethical Content in Literature (Oxford University Press, 2016.) His restoration of ‘the hidden play’ in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia  will be read by an acting company at The Globe Theatre in October, 2018.

Professor Claire Jowitt works on travel writing and maritime culture. She is author of two monographs, Voyage Drama and Gender Politics, 1589-1642 and The Culture of Piracy: English Literature and Seaborne Crime 1580-1630. Edited and co-edited volumes include Pirates? The Politics of Plunder, 1550-1650; Richard Hakluyt and Travel Writing in Early Modern Europe; Colonization, Piracy and Trade in Early Modern Europe; and The Journeying Play: Travel and Drama in Early Modern England (forthcoming). She is co-General Editor of the forthcoming OUP edition of Richard Hakluyt’s The Principal Navigations. She is currently co-editing The Routledge Handbook to Marine and Maritime Worlds 1400-1800 and her next monograph is on the figure of the sea captain. She joined UEA in 2015 as Associate Dean for Research, and she is also Professor of Early Modern English and History. 

Dr. Emily Mayne is the Research Associate on ‘Accessing the Records of Early English Drama in Norwich, 1540-1642’ for the Records of Early English Drama (REED) series at UEA, under the direction of Dr Matthew Woodcock. In addition to occasional entertainments and material culture, her research interests include the representation of classical mythology in English writing, Edmund Spenser, early modern topographical writing, and the translation of Italian texts in early modern England. 

Dr. John-Mark Philo is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow. He is currently working on a research project entitled ‘Tacitus Before Tacitism: The Reception of Tacitus in the Sixteenth Century’. This project examines how the Roman historian Tacitus was being translated and more generally recycled in the early modern period, from defences of female rule to dramatic adaptations of the principate. More generally, John-Mark is interested in classical and European encounters and linguistic exchanges, with an emphasis on Latin and French. 

Dr. Rebecca Pinner's research concerns the relationship between literature, context and culture in the late middle ages. She is interested in the construction and dissemination of individual and collective identities, relationships between literature and other cultural artefacts, and literature and place. Her first monograph, The Cult of St Edmund in Medieval East Anglia, was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2015.   

Dr. Thomas Roebuck's research focusses on the history of sixteenth and seventeenth century English scholarship, especially the work of antiquarians from the Reformation to the early eighteenth century. Like the scholars he studies, he also works on early-modern scholars' studies of biblical and Jewish texts, and the ways Levantine travel in the early-modern period shaped English scholarship. He reconstructs scholars' networks and working practices through the study of unpublished correspondence, notebooks, and annotated books, and pays particular attention to the ways scholarship was caught up in political and confessional commitments. His two principle current projects are a biography of the Levantine traveller, antiquary, and non-juror, Thomas Smith (1638-1710), and an edition of the Table Talk of John Selden (1584-1654), which he is preparing for OUP with two colleagues in the US.  

Dr. William Rossiter researches Anglo-Italian translations and the cultural interactions that inform or produce them from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. He is especially interested in responses to Petrarch and Petrarchism, diplomacy as cultural event, and early English engagement with Italian humanism. He is the author of Chaucer and Petrarch (2010) and Wyatt Abroad (2014), editor of Literature and Ethics: from the Green Knight to the Dark Knight (2010) and Authority and Diplomacy from Dante to Shakespeare (2013), and is currently writing a biography of the poet, satirist and libertine Pietro Aretino.  

Dr. Karen Smyth's research focuses on creating new dialogues in medievalism and early modernism with digital humanities and heritage studies. This work builds on her interests in exploring connections across disciplines (as in her studies of life-cycles and imaginings of time). Her particular interest is in early East Anglian literature, and her current focus is on multi-sensory immersive narratives and digital visualisations in the three hundred year collection of the Paston letters. Karen has over a decade's experience of fostering impact legacies (for more details see Her latest is in her role as Co-Director of the Paston Footprints project

Professor Peter Womack works on drama and theatricality in diverse periods from the Renaissance to the present day, especially including Shakespeare and the relation between theatrical form and political and cultural history, and has published widely in these areas. He is the author of English Renaissance Drama (2006) and his most recent book is Dialogue (The New Critical Idiom) (2011).  

Professor Matthew Woodcock researches and publishes on medieval and early modern literature. His books include Sir Philip Sidney and the Sidney Circle (2010), Shakespeare: Henry V: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism (2008), and Fairy in The Faerie Queene: Renaissance Elf-Fashioning and Elizabethan Myth-Making (2004). He is co-editor of Medieval Into Renaissance: Essays for Helen Cooper (2016), and his biography of soldier-author Thomas Churchyard was published by Oxford UP in 2016. Current research falls into two areas: (1) early modern military identity and Tudor war poetry; and (2) drama, festive culture, and civic ritual in early modern Norwich. He has just started an 18-month research project funded by the AHRC to produce the revised edition of the Records of Early English Drama volume on Norwich.