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ePortfolio of Edward Taylor

About Me

I am a PhD student in the History Department at the University of Warwick. My thesis is entitled “Commenting on the news: the serial press and political culture in Britain, 1641-c. 1730”. I am being supervised by Professor Mark Knights, and funded by a departmental scholarship.

I completed a BA in History (2008-2011) and an MPhil in Early Modern History (2011-2012) at the University of Cambridge, obtaining a Double First and Distinction respectively. My MPhil thesis focused on the significance of John Tutchin’s Observator (1702-1707) as a serial of comment rather than news in the fierce partisan conflict of early eighteenth century Britain. I also completed a Graduate Diploma in Classical Studies at King’s College London (2013-2014), in which I studied Latin and Classical Greek, obtaining a Distinction.

In September 2019, I began working on a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at UCL, as part of a project entitled “Neo-Latin Poetry in English Manuscript Verse Miscellanies, c. 1550-1700”, led by Dr Victoria Moul. My research focuses on topical and political Latin verse in early modern Britain.

My Research

My project examines the position of the serial press in the burgeoning culture of partisanship in Stuart and early Hanoverian Britain, by exploring evolving patterns in the publication and consumption of partisan news and comment in serials.

From Cavaliers and Roundheads in the civil wars to Tories and Whigs during the later Stuart “rage of party”, partisanship was one of the defining features of political culture in early modern Britain. As scholarly perceptions of “party” have shifted away from organisations and structures and towards identity, allegiance, and communities of discourse, the published expressions of partisanship – especially in print – have become more central to our view of where the essence of partisanship really lay. Particularly important was the nascent serial press, which provided some of the most persistent, regular and far-reaching voices that echoed around the early modern “public sphere”. Serials played a key role in articulating and shaping the culture of partisanship in several major respects: as a central location of partisan expression, as a propaganda tool deployed by partisan agents, and as a source of partisan consumption by the public. These provide the core themes of my project.

A central observation of my research is that partisan writing in serials took the form of both news and comment, which were initially mixed together but came to be more explicitly distinguished. Scholarship on serials has normally focused on news, exploring methods of news gathering, presentation and circulation, but has neglected comment, probably due to an implicit assumption that comment was so intermingled with news that it cannot be usefully examined as a theme in its own right. However, by the late seventeenth century, serials were increasingly differentiating comment from news using a number of markers, for instance the use of keywords such as “observations”, “reflections”, and “remarks”, and employing discursive genres such as the dialogue and the essay. The most important manifestation of this was the emergence of partisan “comment serials” such as Roger L’Estrange’s Observator (1681-1687) and Daniel Defoe’s Review (1704-1713), which defined themselves specifically as not being “newspapers”. Thus, a particular focus of my research is to examine the changing dimensions of partisan news and comment in serials: in civil war newsbooks that combined news and comment, and in later Stuart newspapers and comment serials that adopted different balances of the two.

Research Interests

  • early modern political culture
  • partisanship
  • history of the press
  • relationship between politics, language and literature
  • neo-Latin

Academic Profile

  • 2019-present – University College London, Research Fellow
  • 2015-present – University of Warwick, PhD History
  • 2013-2014 – King’s College London, Graduate Diploma in Classical Studies (Distinction)
  • 2011-2012 – University of Cambridge, MPhil Early Modern History (Distinction)
  • 2008-2011 – University of Cambridge, BA History (Double First)

Scholarships and Awards

  • 2019 – BSECS President's Prize (for best postgraduate paper at BSECS Annual Conference, ‘“Observations and reflections on the state of our affairs”: commenting on the news, comment serials, and the landscape of political communications in Britain, c.1640-1730’)
  • 2015-2019 – Warwick Departmental Scholarship
  • 2011-2012 – AHRC Research Preparation Master’s Award

Conference Papers

  • ‘The publication and significance of “observators”, c.1681-1712’, The Growth of News: Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland, 1641-1800, Marsh’s Library, Dublin, 8 September 2016.
  • ‘Comment serials and the public sphere in early eighteenth century Britain’, M3C Eighteenth-Century Research Workshop, University of Birmingham, 10 May 2017.
  • ‘“My business is to make observations”: the emergence of a commentariat in early modern Britain’, History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick, 1 June 2017.
  • ‘“It must be written in a jocular way, or else it will never be cried up”: laughter, politics and the serial press in Britain, c.1640-1720’, History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick, 31 May 2018.
  • ‘“I would divert myself in breaking your head”: threats against public partisan commentators in later Stuart Britain’, BSECS Postgraduate & Early-Career Conference, LERMA, Aix-Marseille Université, 4 September 2018.
  • ‘“Observations and reflections on the state of our affairs”: commenting on the news, comment serials, and the landscape of political communications in Britain, c.1640-1730’, BSECS 48th Annual Conference, St Hugh's College, Oxford, 4 January 2019.
  • ‘“My way is to look into former times”: Whig perspectives on history in John Tutchin's Observator, 1702-07’, Remembering, Memory, and Commemoration: Uses and Perceptions of the Past in the Stuart World, 1658-1715, Bangor University, 1 August 2019.
  • ‘Epigrams, politics, and William III's horse: an early eighteenth-century case study’, Greek and Latin Research Seminar, UCL, 13 November 2019.

Publications

Other Experience

  • 2017-2018 – Seminar Tutor, The European World undergraduate module (European history, c.1500-1750), University of Warwick.
  • 2017 – PhD Placement, Sloane Printed Books Project, British Library.
  • Other jobs and volunteering roles in archives, libraries and heritage organisations, including Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace, Dr Williams’s Library and Kingston Archives.

Edward Taylor

e.taylor.2@warwick.ac.uk