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Lauren Working



Lauren Working is a Lecturer in Early Modern Literature and a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York. Her research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary sociability, material culture, and empire. Her book, The Making of an Imperial Polity: Civility and America in the Jacobean Metropolis (Cambridge University Press, 2020), explores how colonial projects and the circulation of plantation goods transformed ideas of civil refinement in Jacobean London. She has published articles on topics including intoxicants, wit poetry, female agents, and Jamestown archaeology in The Historical Journal, Anthropology Today, and The Sixteenth-Century Journal, among others

Lauren has worked with several museums and archaeological sites to develop ways of using artefacts to reinterpret Anglo-Indigenous relations and early modern colonial histories. She is a freelancer for the National Portrait Gallery and a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker. 



Lauren’s research focuses on the intersection between English politics, taste-making, and empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Exploring everything from tobacco poetry at the fashionable Inns of Court to the presence of Indigenous featherwork in the work of Aphra Behn, her work is driven by an interest in how colonialism and Anglo-Indigenous exchanges in the Americas influenced English literary sociability on both sides of the Atlantic. She has held fellowships at the Jamestown archaeological site, the Huntington Library, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, among others. From 2016-2021, she was a postdoc on the TIDE project (Travel, Transculturality, and Identity in England, 1550 1700) at the University of Oxford, where she remains a research associate.

Her first book, The Making of an Imperial Polity: Civility and America in the Jacobean Metropolis (Cambridge University Press, 2020), jointly won the Royal Historical Society’s 2021 Whitfield Prize. Her second book, Keywords of Identity, Race, and Human Mobility in Early Modern England (Amsterdam University Press, 2021), is a co-authored volume that explores 36 terms that were central to the conceptualization of identity and race in the Tudor and Stuart eras. She is working on several publications on topics including the Inns of Court and global networks, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the colonial gaze in cavalier poetry. Her next book project will focus on women and empire, adopting a comparative approach to plantation, labour, and female sociability in London and colonial spaces ranging from Virginia to Venezuela.

Lauren’s research also involves collaboration with museums and heritage sites. She has worked as a consultant for the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery, and with several contemporary poets on creative projects that respond to museum collections. From 2018-21, she helped lead I, Too, Am a Survivor, a project at the World Museum (National Museums Liverpool) that culminated in an immersive, permanent redisplay of the museum’s pre-modern Chinese ceramics, using porcelain, poetry, and tales of Tudor travel. In September 2021, she co-curated From Middle Temple to Manoa at the Middle Temple LIbrary in London, an exhibition showcasing global networks at the early modern Inns of Court. 



Lauren teaches on The Renaissance, The Shock of the New, Approaches to Literature II: Other Worlds, and Researching the Renaissance. These courses use texts such as romances, mystery plays, and epics to explore how medieval and early modern writers experienced and thought about real and imagined worlds and their own place within them.

External activities


As a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, Lauren has appeared on BBC Radio 3 to discuss topics ranging from ruffs in Jamestown to still life paintings (BBC Radio 3 - Free Thinking, The Botanical Past). She has spoken at London Craft Week and organised events for the Being Human Festival, where she worked with the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford Herbaria on plant stories and ‘the art of looking’. Her involvement with the National Portrait Gallery led her to write the ‘Global Tudors’ resource for educators looking to diversify their approaches to Tudor history and objects. 

Contact details

Dr Lauren Working
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323334