Stewart Mottram is an interdisciplinary researcher specialising in seventeenth-century literature and culture in relation to topics surrounding literature and religion and literature and environment. Mottram draws on the research methods and approaches of History and Heritage Studies, and works in partnership with colleagues in Human Geography and Environmental Science.
Literature and Religion
Mottram’s latest book, ‘Ruin and Reformation in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Marvell' (Oxford University Press, 2019), is the first major study to explore the impact of reformation violence and ruin creation on English literature spanning the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It reads early modern English literature in light of English reformation history, and in dialogue with recent historiographical perspectives, exploring writerly responses to the religious violence of the long reformation in England and Wales across over a century of literature and history, from the establishment of the national church under Henry VIII (1534), to its disestablishment under Oliver Cromwell (1653). It focuses on representations of ruined churches, monasteries, and cathedrals in the works of a range of English Protestant writers, including Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Herbert, Denham, and Marvell, reading literature alongside episodes in English reformation history: from the dissolution of the monasteries and the destruction of church icons and images, to the puritan reforms of the 1640s.
Ruin and Reformation has been reviewed in 'The Review of English Studies', 'The Seventeenth Century', 'The Spenser Review', and 'Journal of British Studies'. Andrew Hui writes in 'The Spenser Review' that "There are few literary critics today who have his deep reservoir of knowledge in the literary, political and religious history of the period. An empiricist at heart, his command of primary texts in manuscript and print is masterful and knowledge of secondary scholarship impressive."
Literature and Environment
Mottram’s latest book project combines Literature, History, and Human Geography methodologies to explore the challenges and opportunities of living with water in the early modern Atlantic world, asking how cultural, social and technological responses to issues like flooding, water sanitation and supply, and water and wellbeing find representation in English and North American literature from this period.
Mottram currently leads an AHRC/XR Stories Creative Industries Cluster project, ‘By the rising tide of Humber: Flooding Andrew Marvell’s Hull in VR’, an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in English, Geography, and the Energy and Environment Institute (EEI) at Hull together with industry partners, BetaJester Ltd. The project recreates in virtual reality (VR) a geographically and historically accurate model of 1640s Hull, which we use to test Hull's flood defence capability in the 1640s by subjecting the virtual town to an historical weather event - a documented storm surge and flood in 1646 - using flood modelling tools developed in the EEI. Through knowledge exchange, the project is driving developments in heritage and environmental applications of VR, while at the same time the VR product is enabling us to bring historical floods to life.
Dr Mottram welcomes applications from PhD students in the following broad areas:
- Literature and religion: 1400-1700
- Literature and environment (especially poetry): any period
- Flooding and water management
- Andrew Marvell
- William Shakespeare (Poetry)
- Edmund Spenser
I have supervised the following projects to successful completion in recent years:
- Louise Powell (as second supervisor), The Crisis of Masculinity: Twins, Early Modern Medicine, and Drama, 1594-1655 (2018).
- Kaylara Ann Reed (as first supervisor), Writing Reform in 14th-century English Romance (2017). External examiner, Professor Raluca Radulescu (Bangor).
- Amy Albudri (as second supervisor), Phantasmal Morgans and Other Women (2016). External examiner, Dr Rob Gossedge (Cardiff).
Current PhD supervisions
Currently act as first supervisor for four PhD projects on English Literature and Heritage topics: 1) on Ted Hughes and myth, 2) Philip Larkin's letters, 3) Chaucer and medievalism, and 4) the role of the volunteer in constructing heritage narratives.