In this podcast we engage in conversation with scholars who have research interests around writing and religion in Exeter and the southwest of England from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

ReConEx podcast 11: Ian Maxted on Exeter book trade c.1640-1750

In this episode we welcome back Ian Maxted to discuss the history of the book and the book trade in Exeter and the southwest from the mid-17th to mid-18th centuries. We discuss the effect of the Civil Wars and Glorious Revolution on printing in Exeter, and the significance of genres including sermons, newspapers, maps and engraved portraits. Ian is a leading scholar in the field and former Devon Local Studies Librarian whose numerous publications include The Story of the Book in Exeter and Devon (2021). As with our previous conversation, Ian has kindly put together an extensive set of tables and data to accompany our discussion. For more of Ian’s bibliographical scholarship, a visit to his Exeter Working Papers in Book History website is highly recommended.

ReConEx podcast 10: Bronwen Price on Lady Mary Chudleigh

In this episode we speak to Dr Bronwen Price about the life and writings of Lady Mary Chudleigh (1656–1710), a Devon writer in poetry and prose who has been called a Christian Platonist and a proto-feminist and whose work engages themes including gender roles, natural philosophy, female friendship and religious toleration. Bronwen is a research associate at Caen University and is currently writing a book on Mary Chudleigh for Manchester University Press.

ReConEx podcast 9: Writing Religious Identity in Taunton with William Gibson and Annie Stephenson

In this episode we speak to William Gibson and Annie Stephenson about the turbulent history of Taunton in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and how Taunton interacted with the political and religious changes of the period. We will be looking at how this history shapes religious writing in Taunton during this period, focusing particularly on material from William (Bill) Gibson’s book Religion and the Enlightenment, 1600-1800: Conflict and the Rise of Civic Humanism in Taunton (Peter Lang, 2007) and Annie Stephenson’s current PhD research on the Taunton Dissenting minister Joseph Alleine and his writings.

ReConEx podcast 8: Ruth Connolly on Robert Herrick in Devon

‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may… ’ In this episode we speak to Dr Ruth Connolly about the life and work of Robert Herrick (1591–1674), best known as a poet but also a clergyman in Devon at a turbulent time. We talk about Herrick’s life in Devon as vicar of Dean Prior, his ejection from his living during the Civil War period and return at the Restoration, his giant poetry collection Hesperides, and the sheer joy of reading Herrick. Ruth is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Newcastle University and is the co-editor of The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick along with Tom Cain (OUP, 2013).

ReConEx podcast 7: Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth on women’s wills

In this episode we speak to Dr Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth about her research on women’s wills in the southwest of England from 1625 to 1660. We discuss how wills can be read as literary and religious texts as well as legal texts, and how women negotiated their individual identities and religious convictions in dialogue with social and legal convention through the act of will-writing. Sarah-Jayne is a Team Leader in Special Collections for the University of Exeter library service and also teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing.

ReConEx podcast 6: Bernard Capp on ‘culture wars’ in the Interregnum and Restoration

In this episode we speak to Bernard Capp, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Warwick, about ‘culture wars’ in Interregnum Exeter, religious divided families in the post-Restoration era, and Barbary captives from the southwest. Bernard has been publishing on English social and religious history from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries for over fifty years (often under his initials B.S. Capp). In this episode we are discussing material relating to Exeter and the southwest from Bernard’s three most recent books: England’s Culture Wars: Puritan Reformation and its Enemies in the Interregnum, 1649–1660 (2012), The Ties that Bind: Siblings, Family and Society in Early Modern England (2018), and British Slaves and Barbary Corsairs, 1580–1750 (2022).

ReConEx podcast 5: Micheline White on women writers of the West Country

In this episode, we speak to Professor Micheline White, Associate Professor of English at Carleton University. Micheline is particularly interested in Renaissance women’s writing in relation to Reformation history and the religious history of the early modern period. Micheline has published widely on women writers of the West Country, including women with links to the Exeter area who we will be focusing on in our conversation today. Our discussion focuses especially on Anne Dowriche, Anne Locke Prowse and Katherine Rous. Towards the end of the podcast we discuss Micheline’s blog post on Katherine Rous at the Early Modern Female Book Ownership blog.

ReConEx podcast 4 – Ian Maxted on book history and the book trade in Exeter

In this episode we speak to our project advisor Ian Maxted on the history of the book and the book trade in Exeter and the southwest in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Ian is a leading scholar in the field and his numerous publications include The Story of the Book in Exeter and Devon (2021). Our wide-ranging discussion includes the relationship of the print trade in Exeter to that in London and in other provincial centres, events such as the king’s printers coming to Exeter in the Civil War period, and publication genres including histories, sermons, and ballads. Ian has kindly put together an extensive set of tables and data to accompany our discussion – these are available on Ian’s website at this link.

Podcast 3: Anna-Lujz Gilbert on 17th and 18th Century Devon libraries

In this episode of the ReConEx podcast we speak to Dr Anna-Lujz Gilbert (@anna_lujz) about her research into four Devon libraries founded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and what they can tell us about books, readers, and communal and religious identities in early modern Devon.  Anna is a postdoctoral research fellow at University College London in the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (or CELL). She is currently working on the project Shaping Scholarship tracing early donations to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Anna undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Exeter and has also worked in the heritage sector for the National Trust and Devon Archives. Today we will be discussing Anna’s research for her 2021 Exeter PhD thesis, which was entitled ‘Public Books in Provincial Towns: Parish and Town Libraries in Early Modern Devon’.

Podcast 2: Paul Auchteronlie on Exeter and the Islamic world

In the second of our ReConEx podcast conversations Niall Allsopp and David Parry speak to Paul Auchterlonie, one of our ReConEx project advisors. Paul read Arabic at Oxford and spent 40 years as a university librarian specialising in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, most recently as librarian in charge of Middle East Collections at the University of Exeter. He is also the author or editor of numerous books and articles in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and on encounters between Britain and the Islamic world. One recent publication of particular relevance to the ReConEx project is Encountering Islam: Joseph Pitts: An English Slave in 17th-Century Algiers and Mecca (Arabian Publishing, 2012), a study of the first known Englishman to visit Mecca that incorporates a critical edition of Pitts’s work A Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mahometans.

ReConEx podcast 1 – In conversation with Mark Stoyle

In this first podcast, we speak to Professor Mark Stoyle, who is Professor of History at the University of Southampton. Mark has broad interests in early modern British history, especially in the Civil Wars of the 1640s and Tudor rebellions of the sixteenth century. Among his broader interests, Mark has published some particularly important work on the history of Exeter and more widely on the history of Devon and Cornwall. His new book A Murderous Midsummer: The Western Rising of 1549 is just out from Yale University Press.

(Intro music from Johann Sebastian Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Prelude No. 17 in A-flat major (BWV 862), performed on the harpsichord by Kimiko Ishizaka. Reproduced from musopen.org under Creative Commons licence.)