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How have religious faith and experience motivated people in the past, and how do they continue to influence people today?
Our work emphasizes the variety and diversity of religious expressions, including the Protestant and Catholic divisions in post-Reformation Christianity, the relationship between religion, the state and politics, new religious movements and the philosophical basis for faith and religion.
The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History holds major archives and art collections, produces a journal, Wesley and Methodist Studies, and hosts regular conferences.
Our academic staff have published very widely on topics such as sacred space, witchcraft in the early modern period, religion and the state in the eighteenth century, Methodism in the eighteenth century, theological responses to Nazism, religion and psychoanalysis, the material and visual cultures of religion, blasphemy, and secularism.
Current research projects include the eighteenth century church and sex, the religious culture of Europe in the seventeenth century, and Freud and feminism.
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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483732
Joanne Begiato joined Oxford Brookes in March 2005 from Murray Edwards College, Cambridge where she was a fellow and director of studies in history. Prior to this she was a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford and read for her BA and PhD at the University of Durham. She became Head of the School of History, Philosophy & Culture in 2016.
Joanne is a specialist in the history of emotions, the family, marriage, masculinities, material culture, and law from c. 1700-1900.
Professor Joanne Begiato is a historian of early modern, Georgian and Victorian Britain, with particular interests in marriage, marriage breakdown, family relationships, the domestic economy, parenting, masculinities, and identities. She is fascinated by the ways in which people encountered their material and emotional worlds and draws on a range of different types of primary sources to investigate them, from the printed word, to visual images, to objects and spaces.
She recently completed Manliness in Britain 1760-1900: Bodies, Emotions, and Material Culture, which will be published by Manchester University Press in 2020. This book uses the concept of emotionalised bodies and material culture to explain how ideas about manliness and unmanliness were constructed, disseminated, sustained, and fixed in individuals and society.
Her book Sex and the Church in England 1688-1832, co-authored with Professor William Gibson was published by I B Tauris early in 2017. It reassesses the role of the Anglican Church in ideas about sex, its discipline, and its practice.
Joanne published Parenting in England c.1760-1830: emotions, self-identity and generation in 2012. See a review here. This study traces parenting both as a concept and a mode of being in an era marked by the cultures of Sensibility and Romanticism. The golden thread connecting these movements was the expression of emotion and this research therefore analyses the interplay between practices, feelings and ideas during a period of change in ideas about childhood, family, gender and self.
Her first monograph was Unquiet Lives: marriage and marriage breakdown in England 1660-1800 (CUP, 2003, re-issued in paperback in January 2009). See a review of this book.
In addition Joanne has published numerous articles on topics as diverse as nostalgia and the family, changes in embodied manliness through the long nineteenth century, depictions of the Jack Tar, representations and experiences of fatherhood and masculinity, the role of space and material culture in constructing domestic violence, pauper parenting, the relationship between memories of parents and the formation of personal identity, married women's experience of coverture and an analysis of the use of church court records as an historical source. She has also published chapters in edited collections on the emotions of pregnancy, the links betweeen unmanliness and bodily and mental decline, dysfunctional family life, and many other aspects of family, gender, and material culture.
This book offers an innovative account of manliness in Britain between 1760 and 1900. Using diverse textual, visual and material culture sources, it shows that masculinities were produced and disseminated through men's bodies -often working-class ones - and the emotions and material culture associated with them. The book analyses idealised men who stimulated desire and admiration, including virile boxers, soldiers, sailors and blacksmiths, brave firemen and noble industrial workers. It also investigates unmanly men, such as drunkards, wife-beaters and masturbators, who elicited disgust and aversion. Unusually, Manliness in Britain runs from the eras of feeling, revolution and reform to those of militarism, imperialism, representative democracy and mass media, periods often dealt with separately by historians of masculinities.
This collection explores the role of martial masculinities in shaping nineteenth-century British culture and society in a period framed by two of the greatest wars the world had ever known. It offers a fresh, interdisciplinary perspective on an emerging field of study and draws on historical, literary, visual and musical sources to demonstrate the centrality of the military and its masculine dimensions in the shaping of Victorian and Edwardian personal and national identities. Focusing on both the experience of military service and its imaginative forms, it examines such topics as bodies and habits, families and domesticity, heroism and chivalry, religion and militarism, and youth and fantasy. This collection will be required reading for anyone interested in the cultures of war and masculinity in the long nineteenth century.
Focusing on autobiographies written from the 1790s to the 1820s, this article demonstrates that material, emotional, and sensorial memories of the childhood house and its location were integral to constructions of self. Firstly, it traces the interplay between prevailing cultural forms, family memory, and identity, and proposes that these changed over time, shaped by cultural, social and economic factors. Secondly, in analysing these personal memories, it contributes to the debates around the meanings of the ‘emotional disposition’ of nostalgia, arguing that it was central to the formation of both national culture and individual selfhood.
This article explores representations of the manly body and the ways in which its relationship with masculine identity and embodied selfhood changed over time and class. It spans a period in which different types of masculinities were dominant, from the later eighteenth-century man of feeling to the later nineteenth-century muscular Christian, and proposes that an embodied approach offers a more nuanced consideration of the ways in which ideals of masculinity were culturally viewed and utilised. First, it provides a chronology of the manner in which the ideal manly body changed over the two centuries, demonstrating that abstract masculine values were always rooted in male bodies. Secondly, it proposes that although most idealised masculine identities were elite, attention to the more corporeal aspects of gender offers evidence that there were features of the manly body, for example hardness, that appealed across social ranks 1 Elite men valorised idealised working-class men’s bodies and saw in them something to emulate. Moreover, working-class men used classically-inspired figures to represent themselves when formulating class and gender identities.
Joanne Begiato draws upon a wealth of accounts of marital experiences in eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century correspondence, diaries and autobiography to explore conflictual marital relationships. This expands our understanding of marital conflict by shifting the focus away from the litigation records that resulted from the couple’s interaction with the law following marriage breakdown and recourse to formal separation. The chapter confirms that economic issues and lack of marital respect undermined marital relationships, as previous scholarship demonstrates, but it also reveals the significance of religious differences, temperamental clashes, and the crucial role of other family members in marriage disputes. Strikingly these informal records also show that conflict impacted the inter-generational family as well as spouses, and it could endure across generations for as long as people’s capacities to bear grudges.--Supplied by publisher.
The final chapter explores ideas of movement and the act of being moved in relation to materiality and history, in order to reflect on potential future directions of emotions and material culture as a field. From imaginative and supernatural movement, physical and temporal movement, to psychological and physiological movement, it considers the roles of a range of objects—both real and imagined—in constructing feelings and identities for individuals, families, communities, and nations. The chapter presents objects as time travellers, exploring how their emotional meanings are created in and across time periods, and asking when these meanings might come to an end.
Pregnancy was a routine, often regular, experience for women across their childbearing years in the long eighteenth century since the majority of women wed in their mid-twenties and bore children until menopause. Pregnancy was limited only by fertility, health, and sexual abstinence before the “fertility transition”. As such pregnancy from its earliest stages to birth was a topic consistently discussed in family correspondence and diaries among the literate social ranks. Although individual circumstances were often different, one common theme emerges across these relatively mundane commentaries on pregnancy: a pervasive sense of apprehension. This chapter surveys the language used to describe pregnancy and the unborn child in order to shed more light about the bodily and emotional experience of pregnancy in late Georgian England.
Joanne is a member of the Advisory Board for the Bibliography of British and Irish History.
She served as a member of the Advisory Group for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded Database Project (2007-2010): Cause Papers in the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishopric of York 1300-1858, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York.
Invited Plenary and Conference Presentations:
Invited Conference Papers (from 2008):
Activities outside the University include contributing to television and radio history programmes on BBC1, BBC2, BBC 4, and Radio 3.