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Queen Mary academics awarded Major Research Fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust

Dr Tamara Atkin, Professor Warren Boutcher and Professor Adrian Smith have been awarded Major Research Fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust.

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Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences seeks to enhance understanding of the world in which we live
Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences seeks to enhance understanding of the world in which we live

The Fellowships are given to well-established, distinguished researchers in the humanities and social sciences to support them to complete original programmes of research.

In total there were 210 applications across all humanities and social sciences disciplines in UK universities. 34 awards were made, three of which went to Queen Mary, and two of those to the Department of English.

Dr Tamara Atkin

Dr Tamara Atkin, Reader in Medieval and Early Modern Literature at Queen Mary will use the award to complete her project, Reusing Books in Early Modern Britain.

Dr Atkin said: "I argue in my research that the dispersal of monastic libraries during and after the dissolution of the monasteries offers a model for thinking through early modern attitudes to waste book materials and habits of book collection.

"Offering a thorough investigation of the early modern British practices of wasting, recycling, and reselling manuscripts and printed books, it will show how conflicted attitudes to the recent Catholic past can explain patterns in the trade of both waste paper and parchment as well as old books in early modern Britain.

"Through an analysis of waste book materials, stationers’ inventories and auction catalogues, as well as figures of waste and reuse in a range of sixteenth and seventeenth-century texts, Reusing books will show how early modern habits of wasting and reusing manuscripts and printed books had major consequences for contemporary conceptions of both authorship and authorial labour.

"The award will enable me to complete a monograph on this subject as well as to organise and host an interdisciplinary symposium on pre-modern sustainability that will bring together book historians, literary scholars, social scientists, and artists.

"I am thrilled and honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award. It is a huge privilege to be able to dedicate myself wholly to this project I am excited to spend the next two year’s completing it. I am indebted to the Trust for its support."

Professor Warren Boutcher

Professor Warren Boutcher, Professor of Renaissance Studies and Head of the School of English and Drama will work on his project Texts and Diversity in the Age of Montaigne, 1530-1590.

The project explores the relationship during Montaigne’s lifetime between new manifestations and understandings of human diversity and the making and interpreting of texts. The Reformation had just fragmented Christendom into differing religious identities and Europeans had just encountered new peoples and cultures in the Americas.

The project will pursue two related and overarching goals. The first is the demonstration of the developing variety of texts and textual forms in the changing social and intellectual environment inhabited by Europeans in the post-Reformation decades of Montaigne’s lifetime. The second is the investigation of the function of these texts in a world that was rapidly changing and diversifying religiously, geopolitically, culturally and intellectually.

Professor Boutcher said: "I am thrilled to be given this precious opportunity by the Leverhulme Trust to investigate both the meanings and understandings of human diversity apparent in texts of the sixteenth century, and the ways in which texts were themselves diversifying in form, purpose and readership/interpretation, in a world changed by the Reformation and by European colonial, evangelical and mercantile ventures."

Professor Adrian Smith

Professor Adrian Smith, Professor of Human Geography and Dean for Research (Humanities and Social Sciences) will investigate the historical geography of food security in the UK.

The project will focus on issues of labour supply and organisation, cropping practices, and the application of techno-scientific innovation in the UK glasshouse horticulture industry, one of the key sectors for UK food production.

Food security is characterised by attempts to control fragile socio-natural systems and glasshouse horticulture seeks to create a ‘total’ environment of control though the regulation of light, temperature, pathogens, and labour-saving technologies in the face of labour supply limitations. These issues are compounded by the UK’s departure from the European Union but the research seeks to place these current changes in a 100-year historical context and to develop theoretical work on techno-science and bio-politics in the regulation of work and employment in the industry.

Professor Smith said: "This fellowship will allow me to work intensively on a project that has been on the back-burner for several years with the aim of completing a research monograph. I am very grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for supporting this Major Research Fellowship and to colleagues at Queen Mary who helped in the development of the project."

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