ECR Independent Conferences, Fellowships and Grants, Prizes

WHN Early Career Fellows for 2023-24

The Women’s History Network is delighted to announce this year’s Early Career Fellows. Each year, the Fellowship attracts a growing number of applications, speaking to the thriving nature of women’s history in the UK today, but also, sadly, to the precarity many scholars face on completing their doctoral studies. Nonetheless, we are pleased that this year we will be supporting four ECR Fellows in their research:

Dr Lillie Arnott’s project, ‘Witnessing Women: Sight, Subjectivity and Gender in Early Modern Europe’, interrogates the sensory, spiritual, and legal dimensions of witnessing in the sixteenth and seventeenth century to demonstrate the impact of ways of seeing upon women’s understanding of themselves and their bodies. Her research brings a range of visual, medical, legal, and religious sources together with writing by, for, and about early modern women to demonstrate the widespread and significant connection between sight, subjectivity, and gender in the period.

Dr Debanjali Biswas’ work, ‘Fallen Through Seams: Traveling Women Performers and Dangerous Animals Acts in Britain (1895-1945)’, seeks to emphasise the underrepresented stagecraft, skills, and agency of the female performers in menagerie entertainment. Many of the women involved in the study claimed to have Indian origins as mystics or royalty. This project explores the chameleon lives of these performers. It aims to contribute towards understanding the racial other that was constructed in the British  imagination as a source of both fear and desire, while investigating  orientalist discourses and racialised identities within the performances themselves.

Dr Hannah West will be examining the experiences of policewomen during the Northern Ireland Troubles. Her research will enable a feminist retelling of the history of women’s participation in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, specifically through the forgotten voices of former policewomen. Oral testimonies will be mapped to compare women’s ‘front line’ experiences with the geographical areas they operated in. This is a timely intervention, providing a much-needed contribution of previously unheard voices to both the history of the Troubles and to Northern Irish history, given new attention following the centenary of the Irish War of Independence and the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Dr Alexis Wolf’s project, ‘Women Writers in Transnational Networks, 1798-1840’, will be the first in-depth study of the writing and networks of Irish sisters Katherine and Martha Wilmot. Their manuscripts are distinctive for their vivid portrayal of the era’s political conflicts, capturing a flight from Ireland during the Irish Rebellion, time spent in Paris during the Peace of Amiens, and extended residences in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. Additionally, during their travels, Katherine and Martha Wilmot participated in a startling range of intellectual and literary pursuits, including travel writing, biography, antiquarianism, early ethnographic observation, language acquisition, translation practices and editorial work. The project will examine how the networks of middle-class women writers in the period allowed them to exert agency over their own authorial legacies and influence over representations of nationhood in Britain, Europe and beyond.

Look out for upcoming blogs and seminars from our Fellows on our website this year, and we wish them all the very best in undertaking four fascinating women’s history projects!

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