Elise Watson

Elise Watson

Dr, Miss, Dr

  • KY16 9AR

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

My research interests lie at the intersection of gender history, book history, and religious history. I am broadly interested in early modern print culture and its impact on religious experience, and the labour of women writers, publishers, booksellers and readers in the early modern book trade.

My doctoral thesis, completed in 2022, investigated the impact of the interconfessional book trade on practical questions of toleration and co-existence in the post-Reformation landscape, using as a case study the trade of Catholic books in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. The production, distribution and censorship of these confessional texts, as well as their import from abroad, shaped the lives of the large minority Catholic population and the work of the Dutch Mission. Books, acting as repositories of faith, holders of memory and objects of devotion, helped to create and shape Catholic experience. Through an examination of a large body of print and manuscript sources including previously undocumented printed ephemera, this work demonstrated both the importance of books to the Catholic minority in the Dutch Republic, and the value of Catholic books in the Dutch book trade.

My new project focuses on collaborations between women in the early modern book trade. While many women worked in the print industry at all levels in this period, from rag-sorters for paper to master printers, their legal and social precarity as labourers meant that they were either unable to work under their own names, or their contributions went unrecognised. Despite this, female friendships and business partnerships produced hundreds of printed books across Europe between 1450 and 1800. This project examines how this labour was gendered, and uncovers untold stories of women's essential labour in the business of making books.

Since completing my PhD, I have also begun a new role as a postdoctoral researcher for the Universal Short Title Catalogue project, where I work on data related to gender, France, and the Low Countries. I am also the Managing Editor of Brill’s Book History Online database (Brill Online Bibliographies).

Teaching activity

Module Coordinator for MO5032: Material Bibliography

Teaching activity

Lecturer for MO1007: The Early Modern Western World, c. 1450–c. 1770


Teaching activity

Lecturer for HI2001: History as a Discipline: Development and Key Concepts

Education/Academic qualification

PGDip, Reformation Studies (With Distinction), School of History

Award Date: 27 Aug 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Western Intellectual History, concentration in the Early Modern period, Gordon College

Award Date: 15 May 2017


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