Dr. Ted Vallance, Reader in early modern history in the Department of Humanities, has been awarded a Lewis Walpole Library Visiting Fellowship to research the historical significance of papers of eighteenth-century historian and antiquary, Mark Noble.
Posted: 16 April 2014
Oliver Cromwell c. 1661, depicting his posthumous punishment for treason in left and right top boxes. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.
Dr. Vallance will use the month-long fellowship to examine the library’s holdings of Noble’s manuscripts.
Noble’s published writings included the Oliver Cromwell’s family genealogy and biographies of the ‘Regicides’ (the men who signed King Charles I’s death warrant). Noble tackled these politically-sensitive subjects from a loyalist perspective towards the church and the state. However, his writing also displayed a new sensitivity to the emotional state and experiences of these historic figures. For example, Noble suggested that radical political action (such as the execution of Charles I) was the result of mental instability. Noble’s historical works represent an interesting and under-examined facet of what scholars such as Chris Jones have called the ‘politics of sensibility’ in the eighteenth century.
During his fellowship Dr Vallance will try to establish broader connections between Noble’s writings and eighteenth-century debates over ‘sensibility’. For example, the fellowship will explore whether Noble’s focus on family history (he also wrote collected biographies of the Medici and Boleyn families) was connected to Edmund Burke’s concept of the family as the prime source of human feeling.
The fellowship will contribute to Dr. Vallance’s ongoing project examining the history and memory of the English regicides (some of which is already in press in a forthcoming collection from Manchester University Press). The Lewis Walpole Library, part of Yale University, is a major research centre for eighteenth-century studies.