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Anna Wall is a Lecturer in Literature and a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York. Her research focuses on the material and textual cultures of early modern women’s writing, with a particular focus on the domestic manuscripts of nonconformist women. Anna gained her PhD at the University of East Anglia having completed a BA in English Literature and an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures (also at UEA). Her PhD focused on the theological texts of Lucy Hutchinson (1620-1681); this project argued that Hutchinson used her manuscripts to articulate distinct kinds of ecclesiastical association to demonstrate the cultural and theological impact of these seemingly ‘private’ or ‘domestic’ manuscripts. Anna’s broader research interests include women’s textual networks in the early seventeenth century, the critical history of the reception of women’s writing, lay participation in the development of nonconformity, and the legacy of Reformation texts in early modern England. Her work has been published in The Seventeenth Century and she is currently preparing her PhD thesis for publication.
Anna’s research focuses on early modern women’s material and textual cultures with a particular focus on the manuscript writing of nonconformist women. Her archival based research integrates the materialist history of the book with historical research and literary analysis to intervene in the critical fields of manuscript studies, book history, the textual culture of vernacular Puritanism, and early modern women’s writing. Anna has written most extensively on the Puritan writer, Lucy Hutchinson, and her PhD offered the first comprehensive study of Hutchinson’s theological manuscripts arguing that each text articulates a distinct kind of ecclesiological practice shaped by Hutchinson’s socio-cultural context, her audience, and her changing theological beliefs across the late-seventeenth century. Her broader research interests in lay participation in the development of nonconformist theology and women’s textual networks have led her to write about and give papers on diverse subjects including the sermon notebooks of John Owen’s London congregation, the textual legacy of Calvin’s Institutes, and miscellanies and commonplace books in early-seventeenth century Nottinghamshire.
Her current research explores nonconformity as a context in which women frequently used their manuscript texts to codify and disseminate theological principles and thereby directly participate in the construction of their religious communities. This research argues for the leading role some nonconformist women played in the formation of their congregations. Through this research, she aims to re-evaluate scholarly expectations of the cultural impact of early modern women’s manuscripts by demonstrating that their domestic texts had a tangible social function: to define and create communities. This project will consider the texts of a wide-range of nonconformist women across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries including Grace Mildmay, Brilliana Harley, and the early letters of Sarah Savage (née Henry).
Anna has presented conference papers at national and international conferences including the Renaissance Society of America and was an invited speaker at a research symposium in the summer of 2022 which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Hutchinson’s birth. She has published an article on Hutchinson’s 1640s account of the Civil War with The Seventeenth Century and has another article forthcoming in 2023. She is currently preparing her PhD thesis for publication.
Anna is currently teaching first year modules including A World of Literature I and II and Approaches to Literature II. Previously, she has taught broadly across undergraduate studies including modules focused on Shakespeare, early modern women’s writing, the reception of classical texts, and placing literary texts within their historical contexts.