How do we live our lives in the face of massive upheaval? How do societies repair themselves after moments of fundamental change, and how do social fabrics mend after episodes of destruction?
These questions spur my historical curiosity: the ways in which people have experienced, understood, and shaped the major changes in their world.
I am currently finishing a book entitled A People’s Reformation? Religion, Politics, and Society in the English Parish, 1560-1600. Rather than examining the destruction of the early decades of the Reformation, this project focuses instead on the complicated and ideologically-charged process of creation: the building of new institutions, ideas, identities, and ideologies in the post-Reformation church. At its core, this project examines how and why England became a Protestant, post-Reformation nation: how English men and women reacted to the enormous social, political and religious rifts opened by the Reformation and why the Church was able to reintegrate itself into a changing English society.
My next project, Strangers in a Strange Land: Immigration and Identity in Early Modern England, considers issues of transnational and immigration history in early modern Europe, examining mass ideological immigration into England following the waves of Protestant Dutch refugees fleeing the invasion of Catholic Spain into the Low Countries in the late sixteenth century. This surge put new strains and stresses on the nascent systems of poor relief; challenged notions of identity, toleration, and orthodoxy within a centralizing state; and forced Englishmen and women to consider just what it meant to be ‘English’ in a modernizing world. By examining the long history of English immigration, this project both rejects the idea that immigration is somehow the problem or province of the modern world and unites English and European histories.