Posted on 2 April 2014
Rebekah's award will allow her to research her PhD into ‘A Material Menopause: The Cultural and Medical Negotiation of Female Middle Age in the Early Modern Period’. Rebekah graduated from our Taught MA programme last year and will be supervised by Cordula van Wyhe.
Rebekah writes: “I am very much looking forward to starting the PhD programme in October. My research follows on from my MA thesis, which examined the courtly portrayal of middle age in a portrait of the Portuguese Queen, Catherine of Austria. Over the next few years I am hoping to answer some of the more problematic questions this project raised about how women negotiated middle age and menopause through their engagement with cultural objects and the material environments that surrounded them.
As the proposal for this project developed it became clear that it was a truly interdisciplinary topic, spanning histories of art, medicine and textiles amongst others. I am really looking forward to discovering what opportunities this approach will present but I am also excited to be working with a fascinating and diverse body of source material that includes portraits, engraved life maps and anatomical drawings as well as costume, stained glass and engraved frontispieces. Middle age was a liminal and ambiguous stage in the early modern female life cycle. It was difficult to assign chronologically and was shaped by factors including social position, marital status and sexual history. As a result the project will certainly present a challenge, however I am fortunate enough to be beginning my work at an ideal moment both within the History of Art Department, as it expands into costume and textiles, and the wider University, with the impending establishment of an MA in Medical Humanities.”