I work on the gender, religious, and cultural history of the late medieval and early modern Reformations. I am especially interested in studying developments in religious ideas and gender identities in diverse cultural and political contexts. The principal geographical focus of my research is Britain and Transylvania, both of which were exposed to Lutheran, Calvinist and Catholic reformations, and experienced witch-hunting. Both also spawned a variety of independent, congregational, and sectarian reinterpretations of religion, of devotional practice, and of the social order. These include continental influences and movements such as Lollardy, the freewillers, and the Family of Love, and, in Transylvania, antitrinitarians. Additionally, it involves engagement with how individuals fashioned their religious lives and influenced others in household and pulpit, and in manuscript and print. In this, revisions of Christocentric piety, and the appropriation of mystical analogies and spiritual metaphors, were substantial late-medieval catholic legacies for the Reformation world.
Patterns of Piety: Women, Gender and Religion in Late Medieval and Reformation England (Cambridge University Press, 2003, 2009 pbk)
This 2003 book offers an interpretation of the transition from Catholicism to Protestantism in the English Reformation, and explores its implications for an understanding of women and gender. Central to this is an appreciation of the significance of medieval Christocentric piety in offering a bridge to the Reformation, and in shaping the nature of Protestantism in the period up to the Civil War. Not only does this explain much of the support for Protestantism, but it also suggests the need to question assumptions that the 'loss' of the Virgin Mary and the saints was detrimental to women. The Reformation undermined the ritual role of the Catholic godly woman but its definition of the representative frail Christian as a woman devoted to Christ meant that it was not an alien environment for the weaker sex. The Christocentric piety of the late medieval parish shaped the Reformation and paved the way for a more subtle understanding of gender.
Religion, Household Authority, and the Defence of 'Collapsed Ladies' in early Jacobean England
Jesuits, confessional identities and landlordship in God’s Transylvanian vineyard, 1580-88
Gender and the culture of protestantism: a view from the kirk session
The Virgin Mary and the Publican: Lutheranism and social order in Transylvania