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Current Research



Please also peruse the Centre's past research activities, and the Early Modern Forum website.

Coventry Lives research and public engagement

Coventry's successful bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the history of the city and in particular the lives of those who have lived there in the past. Prof. Mark Knights is part of the Coventry Lives project which has been formed to make this happen. Its aim is to remind Coventry citizens of the city's rich heritage; engage them in researching it; and inform (virtual as well as real) visitors.

A web platform will be created to host mini-biographies mapped to physical locations. This will then be used as a virtual guide by visitors and residents of all ages. Ideally there will also be physical markers in the city to show significant locations of earlier inhabitants, and these will alert visitors to digital information.

The aim is not to just to present figures from the recent past but to include lives from the medieval and early modern periods, to increase consciousness about the depth of the city’s history. To do so, the project will mine some of the riches of local archival holdings as well as conduct a major new oral history project. The project will also engage the local community in helping to compile their own history, as well as host an portal for education providers looking to incorportate local history into their teaching.

Female Foes: conflict, dispute and identity in the early modern British Atlantic

A Leverhulme Trust funded, three year project (October 2018-21). The Principal Investigator is Prof. Daniel Branch; the Research Fellow is Dr Naomi Pullin. Further details to follow.

Secrecy and Transparency in the English East India Company, 1784-1834

A Leverhulme Trust funded, three year project (October 2018-21). The Principal Investigator is Prof. Mark Knights; the Research Fellow is Dr Callie Wilkinson. Further details to follow.

DIGITENS: Sociability in the long Eighteenth Century

The European Commission has given significant financial support for DIGITENS, the flagship project of an international collaboration on sociability in the long Eighteenth Century. Funding comes from the H2020 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCAS-RISE-2018) programme, and the project is led by the University of Western Brittany, Brest. Several EMECC members, including Prof. Mark Knights, Dr Charles Walton, Prof. Giorgio Riello, Prof. Beat Kumin and Prof. Mark Philp will be involved in collaborative work with partners across Europe. DIGITENS brings together historians, literary scholars, philosophers, linguists and scientists from eleven institutions across Europe and Canada to develop research on British sociability and examine the circulation of models of sociability in Europe and its colonial empires. The project will generate a digital encyclopedia of sociability for the period from 1650 to 1850, and will include a range of conferences, events and collaborations with museums and archives. Further details can be found at

Socioeconomic Rights in History

Working with other colleagues in the History Dept at Warwick (including the Centre for the History of Medicine and the European History Research Centre), Charles Walton and Claudia Stein are making contact with academics from a range of disciplines and based in institutions across Europe and the US in order to explore the history of socioeconomic rights – rights to health, subsistence, work, housing and education. These rights, which have received considerably less attention than civil and political rights, have recently come into focus among scholars and NGOs. Often considered to be ‘second generation rights’, that is, as twentieth-century additions to ‘core’ civil and political rights stretching back to the Enlightenment, notions of socioeconomic rights stretch back, in fact, to the Enlightenment as well. Socioeconomic rights exploded into politics during the French Revolution. Since then, however, their legitimacy has been contested. What accounts for their relatively greater historical precariousness among the panoply of rights?

In May 2015, the Institute of Advanced Studies at Warwick hosted Visiting Fellow Samuel Moyn, professor of law and history at Harvard University, who has written several books in the fields of European intellectual history and human rights history, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Harvard University Press, 2010). Among other activities, Professor Moyn took part in a workshop on 'Writing the History of Socio-Economic Rights', organised by Charles Walton (Eighteenth Century Centre) and Claudia Stein (Centre for the History of Medicine). Please see the Events page for further details.

In the summer of 2015, this work received Leverhulme funding in order to formalise, expand and develop the network and its activities. For full details of the project, now hosted by the Global History & Culture Centre, please click here.

Recent publications growing out of this network include,

Charles Walton (ed.), 'Social Rights in French History', French History (Dec 2019)

Steven Jensen and Charles Walton (eds.), Social Rights and the Politics of Obligation (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

'Corruption in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850'

In 2014-16 Mark Knights held an AHRC Leadership Fellowship to research 'Corruption in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850'. This will lead to a book to be published by Oxford University Press. As part of his fellowship, Mark produced a freely downloadable report for the anti-corruption agency Transparency International and collaborated with the Council of Europe (which cites his work at length in a report of 2017) as well as the Italian anti-corruption agency Autorità Nazionale Anti-corruzione. He also published an article for History Today and a blog on bribes, gifts and scandal for BBC History online.

Online Plays from the Napoleonic Period

This project is being directed by Katherine Astbury (Department of French Studies).

Final-year students on Katherine Astbury's modules The French Revolution and Revolution and Empire are involved in the process of digitally preserving one of the University’s most significant special collections, the Marandet collection of 18th- and 19th-century plays by selecting the plays to be preserved and then producing original research based on ‘their’ plays. Plays of the period are the cultural form most obviously affected by ideology and public opinion and while the Revolution is now reasonably well covered by available editions of plays, there is currently no readily accessible material on theatre of the Napoleonic period available on-line or in student-friendly editions. In the course of 2006, the library began an ambitious project to digitise the 300 plays in the Marandet collection that cover the period 1789-99. The project to digitise the Napoleonic period aims both to preserve material and to make the collection as a whole much more visible. Unlike the Bibliothèque Nationale’s electronic material, all the plays are fully searchable. This project will place Warwick firmly at the centre of ongoing research into theatre of the Revolution and the First Empire. In addition, it is creating new learning opportunities for Warwick undergraduates by involving them in the process of preserving texts for future generations of researchers. It takes the notion of research-led teaching to a new level as the work is an outcome of a genuine partnership between students, tutors, and library staff. Website:

Literary responses to the trauma of the French Revolution

Katherine Astbury currently holds a British Academy small grant and an AHRC Matching Leave award to complete a monograph on Literary responses to the trauma of the French Revolution which reassesses literary production of the revolutionary decade in the light of trauma theory. The French Revolution is generally seen as marking a watershed in literary production and while much has been done on politically-motivated literature where events of the Revolution are represented or transposed, few have explored in detail the large proportion of literary production that appears to have no direct political engagement with the events of the Revolution such as pastoral novels and moral tales. Recent work in the States on Revolutionary theatre has demonstrated the importance of reassessing long-standing assumptions about the cultural production of the Revolution through detailed contextual and textual analysis. This renewed interest in debates about theatrical culture and the Revolution has not yet resulted in major studies exploring fruitfully the continuities between old regime and Revolution in literature, and this monograph will reassess the process of literary production and fill a significant gap in current research on the Revolutionary period because it will focus on a body of texts barely accorded critical attention before.

Current Networks

Completed Research Projects