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Hansen Lecturer in History, The University of Melbourne

I am originally from Northern Ireland but have lived in Canada, England, France, and Australia. I did a BA Hons in English Literature and French at Kingston University, and then an MA and PhD in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London. From 2011-2014 I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre for the History of Emotions, based at the University of Sydney. After that I was a Lecturer in Early Modern Literature, first at Queen Mary, and the University of Kent. Since Feb 2017 I am Hansen Lecturer in History at the University of Melbourne.

My research interests lie in the fields of early modern cultural and literary history. My monograph, Scandal and Reputation at the Court of Catherine de Medici (Ashgate, May 2016), looks at how the reputations of aristocratic women at the early modern French court were constructed, attacked and defended in a society where literacy was beginning to gain supremacy over orality.

My current project investigates emotional responses to public execution in the early modern period, looking in particular at the use of songs and verse in accounts of crime and execution across Europe. Crime reports were often printed in huge numbers on cheap pamphlets and set to the tune of well-known songs, enabling the reader to sing along to the account of the (often violent) crime and the public execution of the condemned. My research examines how the emotional resonances of a familiar tune could be transferred or subverted in the new version of the song. Central to my work is the idea that singing the news of crime and punishment was a long-standing, pan-European tradition. I’ve begun to widen my research into news-songs on all sorts of topics: natural disasters and wonders, military battles and sieges, and politics and social satire.


  • 2017–present
    Hansen Lecturer in History, University of Melbourne


Fellow, Royal Historical Society