My research focuses on gender history and the experiences of women within the seventeenth and eighteenth-century British Atlantic. Early female converts are a fascinating subject of study, not only because they often converted to the movement without the consent of husbands or fathers, but also because their work on behalf of the Quakers (Society of Friends) transcended contemporary views about gender and the position of women within society.
Despite a well-established pedigree of histories of the Quaker movement and its female preachers, there is a distinct absence of the more ‘ordinary’ Quaker woman from the historical record. In fact, few discussions account for the important role that Quaker women, outside of the context of travelling ministry, had in supporting the transatlantic mission and in sustaining the movement during years of intense persecution and declining numbers. In addition very little has been discussed about how conversion to the movement affected women's lives and their everyday encounters.
The areas that my theses addresses are:
• Women's domestic relationships
• Women's work within the local, national and international Quaker community, through the Women's Meetings
• Quaker women's networks and friendships
• The integration and tensions that female converts had with the non-Quaker community.
I have undertaken a series of research visits to Philadelphia and have used the Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and the materials housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. I was assisted throughout this trip by the International Police Association (IPA) and was placed with a police host family. Whilst I was in Philadelphia, I was interviewed for a local television show and newspaper about my research and the assistance given to me by the IPA.
Building upon my current and past research, I'm developing a new project on the character and nature of female enmities in the British Atlantic in the long-eighteenth century. I'm particular interested in how opposition and hostility could shape gendered identites and how women participated in a culture of hatred and othering. The working title is: ‘Making Enemies: Hostility, hatred and the cultivation of female identity in the early modern British Atlantic’ and this will eventually form a book-length monograph. This project has evolved out of my Masters dissertation on the seventeenth century Quakers and how they used divine providence as a means of discrediting their enemies.
I am also interested in the emergent field of the History of the Emotions. Through my research into female enmities, I seek to engage more fully with the emotions of hatred and anger in order to demonstrate how emotions both had a history and make history. I'm also interested in the emergent field of material culture and am particularly interested in how early modern writers used specific objects as a means of discreditng their opponents.