Tayler Meredith

Tayler Meredith

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Changing Climates in Early Modern England 1550 – 1700
SupervisorDr Elaine Fulton and Dr Jonathan Willis
PhD History

Qualifications

  • BA History and History of Art (Joint Honours), University of Birmingham, First Class
  • MA Social Research (Economic and Social History), University of Birmingham, Distinction
  • Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Teaching

Since beginning my doctoral research, I have taught at both foundation and undergraduate level. These modules include two foundation courses in ‘The Decline and Fall of Empires’ and the ‘History of Modern Britain’, as well as a first year undergraduate course on ‘Reformation, Rebellion, and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World’.

Research

The threat of climate change tends to represent a call-to-arms for historians. Intervening in a public conversation typically dominated by physical sciences, they are the secular prophets of our age, using their powers of long-term hindsight to alert all to the future calamities that will surely arise from unmitigated anthropogenic global warming (Parker, 2013; White, 2011). Whether adopting doom or hope, then, our historical understanding of climate is forged in view of imminent danger – a fatalism that obscures the far less obvious, more complex and more discursive connections that always exist between weather and people. While calamity attracts attention, it also smothers a forgotten narrative about how public and private conceptualisations of ‘climate’ have emerged within the fraught and contested terms of the human body, domestic living, politics, colonialism and religion.

Exploring these in turn, this thesis redresses current historical understanding of climate change with reference to England’s so-called ‘Little Ice Age’ (c. 1550-1700; hereafter LIA): a one-hundred-and-fifty-year period of prolonged winters, droughts and floods across Europe. At the heart of its investigation is the question of how to precisely represent historical climates prior to (post-c1700) weather documentation. Though the cumulative impact of quantitative studies can give a strong impression of long- and short-term changes, they cannot serve to adequately explain the prismatic cultural impact of climate. Undoubtedly, this was a period that witnessed an unprecedented amount of climatic anomalies, but do such events inevitably materialise in social and economic disorder? As this thesis will show, the early modern understanding of climate and climatic variance depended not only on disruption, but continuity: the interrelationship between people, places, and air determined character and health, gifted sustenance, influenced politics, and revealed providence.

Other activities

Aside from my research, I am involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities within the field of environmental history. As well as being an active member of the American and European Society of Environmental History (ASEH, ESEH), I have presented at both conferences (Zagreb, 2017; Los Angeles, 2018), attended the European’s Society’s Summer School (Prague, 2016) and contributed to a special collection of short essays in the latter’s digital journal, Arcadia. I have held short-term fellowships at the Rachel Carson Center, LMU Munich (2017), as well as a summer fellowship at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2018). In May 2018, I was selected as a member of the European Society of Environmental History’s Next Generation Action Team ahead of the 2019 biennial conference in Tallinn, Estonia.