Servants & Tradesmen

I am currently researching poetry written about servants and tradesmen from 1600-1660. In Fall 2019, I spent three months in the Folger Shakespeare Library examining epitaphs and elegies on early modern servants, tradesmen, and craftsmen. While the portrayals of men and women in similar occupations in early modern drama often create stereotypical figures to be described satirically, the poetry I study and contextualize often features actual members of the writers’ (and some compilers’) local communities. After two months at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut, I have shifted my focus to consider how these local relationships and the early modern emphasis on wordplay not only influenced poems depicting members of various early modern occupations, but may have affected the ways in which scholars and clergymen responded to the real men and women whose daily labor facilitated their own mental labors and scholarship.

I look forward to continuing my research at the Bodleian Library once it reopens. In the meantime, I am drafting a short piece on Thomas Hobson, the Cambridge carrier.

My first article on an early modern servant, “Knowing Owen: Merry and Satirical Epitaphs on a Butler of Christ Church, Oxford” was accepted to Renaissance Papers in early 2020 and should be available once the November 2020 edition is released.

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