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Research at St Andrews

Elise Watson


Research overview

My research interests lie at the intersection of book history and ecclesiastical history. I am broadly interested in the interactions between print and religious experience, and the impact of the interconfessional book trade on practical questions of toleration and co-existence in the post-Reformation landscape. This is complemented by a fascination with minority Catholicism in the early modern period, and the contribution of books as both repositories of faith and objects of devotion towards the construction of post-Tridentine Baroque Catholic identity.
My thesis investigates the trade of Catholic books in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, examining the ways in which the production, distribution, and censorship of these confessional texts, as well as their import from abroad, impacted the lives of the large minority Catholic population and the work of ecclesiastical missionary organisations. Networks of printers and booksellers across the Northern and Southern Netherlands made Catholic books a profitable sector of the prosperous Dutch book trade, flouting anti-Catholic legislation to make a wide body of confessional literature accessible to clergy and laity alike. Through an examination of publishing networks, individual collections, and censorship practices, I intend to demonstrate the importance of Catholic print both to the survival of minority religious communities and the flourishing book industry in the Dutch Republic.
In addition to my research, I am the Assistant Editor of Brill’s Book History Online database (Brill Online Bibliographies) and an associate of the Universal Short Title Catalogue project. I am also a Project Officer for the Centre for Educational Enhancement and Development (CEED) at the University of St Andrews.

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