- Early modern diplomatic history
- Early modern British history
- Cultural encounters
My research interests cover early modern politics, religion, print culture, and intellectual culture and the interactions between them. I explored these in my book, Renaissance and Reform in Tudor England: The Careers of Sir Richard Morison, c.1513-1556, which provides and intellectual biography of Henry VIII's most prolific propagandist. I have also written several articles and essays on diplomacy, propaganda, print culture, and religion in the sixteenth century.
At present, I am researching the cultural history of Tudor diplomacy and writing two books for OUP: The Tudor Diplomatic Corps: A Cultural History and Tudor Diplomatic Culture. I take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of how English diplomatic practice, personnel and theory adapted to three major sixteenth century developments: the introduction of resident ambassadors, the English Reformation and female rule. A major interest is the role of diplomacy as a site of cultural exchange, both in terms of cultural ideas (eg though debates, rituals, and ceremonies) and the transnational circulation of material objects. Further areas of research include ambassadors' intellectual and religious networks; diplomatic ceremonial and theory; the effectiveness and uniformity of royal iconography; the equipping and training of diplomats; and the impact of ambassadorial service on politicians' notions of the English state. Cumulatively, this allows me to address issues such as specialisation in Tudor diplomacy; the extent to which diplomacy was considered a separate profession; non-verbal means of diplomatic communication; and the effectiveness of the Tudor diplomatic corps. More importantly, though, uncovering the mechanisms underpinning early modern diplomatic practice and the cultural considerations that influenced them allows a much deeper and sophisticated appreciation of why English monarchs interacted with their princely peers in the manner in which they did.
I am PI on an interdisciplinary international research network 'Textual Ambassadors: Cultures of Diplomacy and Literary Writing in the Early Modern World' which was funded by the AHRC from 2012 to 2015. This brought together experts in history, literature, and cultural studies to investigate the relationship between literature and diplomacy in the early modern world. For more information on the project and the publications arising from it see www.textualambassadors.org
A BARSEA award 'Centres of Diplomacy, Centres of Culture' (2015-2016) gave me the opportunity to organise two conferences for early career scholars which focussed on diplomatic cultures.