Research Topic: Funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and New College, my research centres broadly on the engagement between sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, on the one hand, and contemporary Islamic cultures and societies, on the other, stretching from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. My PhD thesis, meanwhile, will focus more specifically on the depiction of Islamic practice and belief in seventeenth-century British and French travel accounts.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of Britons and French travelled to the Islamic world, particularly to the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires, and to the Muslim sultanates of North Africa. Among this diverse group of men and women, there were diplomats, merchants, clerics, scholars, spies, gentlemen travellers, soldiers, servants and captives, all of whom had their own ambitions, fears and prejudices. My PhD thesis will therefore ask the following questions of this variegated group of British and French travellers: what kind of exposure did they have to Islam, and what did they make of Islamic practice and belief? How did they make sense of the changes that convulsed the Muslim world during this period, such as the intensification of the Sunni-Shi’i divide, the rise of millenarianism, and the influence of disparate forms of Sufism? And why did they think and write what they did about Islam, and what can their views of the religion tell historians about the state of Christianity in early modern Britain and France? As a way into these questions, my thesis will explore the surviving journals, correspondence and published works of several contemporary British and French travellers to the Muslim world, including Edward Terry (c. 1590-1660), chaplain to Sir Thomas Roe (c. 1581-1644), the first official English ambassador to Mughal India; Sir Thomas Herbert (1606-82), who wrote the first full-length English-language account of Safavid Persia; the English diplomat-turned-historian Sir Paul Rycaut (1629-1700), who served in Istanbul and Izmir during the 1660s and 1670s; the French jeweller Sir Jean Chardin (1643-1713), whose account of Safavid Persia inspired the work of several Enlightenment luminaries, including Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau and Gibbon; and the French Capuchin missionary Raphaël du Mans (1613-96), who spent most of his life directing a convent in Isfahan.
2017-2020: PhD in History, University of Oxford.
2015-2017: MA in Global History, University of Warwick.
2011-2015: BA (Hons) in French and History, University of Warwick.