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Alice O'Driscoll

Alice O'Driscoll

Department: History

Supervisor: Dr Clare Jackson

College: Jesus

AHRC subject area: History

Title of thesis: Finding Aristotelian modes of governance in the seventeenth-century family


I completed both my BA History and MA Historical Research at the University of Sheffield. There, I developed an interest the nature and distribution of (il)legitimate authority in the early modern household, and the gendered languages of governance and subjection through which this was contemporaneously understood. This culminated in an undergraduate dissertation which analysed the language of ‘moderation’ employed to condone or condemn instances of male spousal violence, and a master’s dissertation which compared imagery of the ‘body politic’ to invocations of the ‘one flesh’ model of marital unity in seventeenth-century writing. Both investigated the relationship between manifestations of power in the family and in the state, and between language and the social reality it forms and through which it is formed.

My PhD thesis similarly focuses on the analogous connection between household and state in the early modern conceptual schema.  It looks to domestic literature and ecclesiastical court records for descriptions of the family as monarchical, aristocratic or democratic in its organisation across the seventeenth-century, before mapping these findings onto the socio-political context of revolutionary England. Thus, it will examine both gendered authority within early modern families, and the significance of the household-state analogy in early modern England.

Other academic interests

My other interests include: women in the English civil war; early modern litigation; the interface between oral and written cultures; and notions of credit in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century.