My research participates in four key areas of early modern studies:
- Visual and material culture (esp. decorative arts)
- Domestic and social life (esp. non-elite material culture and social practices)
- Reformation Studies (esp. post-Reformation imagery; lived religion)
- Shakespeare Studies (the material culture of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon)
I am just starting my next book project on the visual culture of early modern England, building on a long-term interest in the meaning and function of images in this period of British art, especially the so-called ‘decorative’ arts.
I have recently finished a book on domestic life and material culture with Catherine Richardson at Kent called A Day at Home in Early Modern England. Alongside this book project we ran an AHRC research network, Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700: the case of decorative textiles, which investigated peoples’ experience of household life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and considered how we might use this information to enhance our experience of visiting historic properties in the twenty-first century. There’s more information about this and other projects with Catherine on our Material Histories blog.
I am particularly interested in the forms and contexts of Protestant visual art and its relationship with pious behaviours, as explored in my monograph Decorating the Godly Household: Religious Art in post-Reformation England and the volume I edited with Richard L. Williams, Art Re-formed: Reassessing the Impact of the Reformation on the Visual Arts (2007).
Shakespeare and material culture
I am working on a long-term project on the material culture of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, in collaboration with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and based on their wonderful collections. Together with Delia Garratt, Director of Cultural Engagement at the Trust, and a team of Birmingham University PhD students we produced the first book to interpret some of the treasures within their early modern object collection: Shakespeare and the Stuff of Life.