Dr Catherine Evans

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Catherine Evans
Postdoctoral Fellow, December 2019 - August 2020

project: Anne Halkett’s Meditative Time

I work on early modern literature, with interests in book history, religious texts, women’s writing and the philosophy of time.

During my nine months at IASH, I will be researching Anne Halkett’s manuscript meditations, held in the National Library of Scotland. My project examines Halkett’s temporal language to understand how early modern women tracked their lives within the passing of time and related this to the world around them, making use of TEI-XML encoding to analyse her use of temporal markers. I will explore how the linear project of life-writing could be a critical aspect of identify formation for early modern women, challenging the supposition that women’s time is cyclical and generative.

This builds on my doctoral research at the University of Sheffield (PhD awarded 2019) which investigated how time was materialised in the early modern religious texts. My thesis situated canonical texts, such as the Sidney Psalter, John Donne’s sermons and George Herbert’s poetry, within a wider context, reading them alongside works whose literary qualities have sometimes been overlooked, such as personally produced manuscript miscellanies and the sermons of Joseph Hall and John Day. The early modern period has often been described as the moment when a proto-capitalist, linear view of time replaced the cyclical movement of the agricultural year and Catholic calendar, marked by feast days. However, I argue that these different systems were often overlaid, and that individual readers and writers made flexible use of a variety of ways of comprehending time. I hope to enlarge this project with my work on Halkett and am currently preparing my monograph, Materialised Time in Early Modern Literature, for publication.

My next project explores at how early modern performance texts, particularly sermons, were read aloud at home. I have been awarded fellowships at the John Rylands Research Institute, the Huntington Library and the UCLA Clark Library to pursue this work in 2019. I am co-organising an upcoming conference Pulpit, Playhouse, and Page: Theatrical and Non-theatrical Exchange in Early Modern England (28th -29th May 2020, University of Sheffield) and am a research assistant on the Gateway to Early Modern Manuscripts Project <<https://gemms.itercommunity.org/index.php>>.


“Metanoia: Penitential Memory in Elizabethan Women’s Psalm translations” in Memory and Identity in the Medieval and Early Modern World (Peter Lang: 2019)

 “Poetic Failure, Communal Memory and George Herbert’s Outlandish Proverbs” in Communities of Print: Readers and their Books in Early Modern Europe (Brill: forthcoming)