SRS Postdoctoral Fellows 2024-25

June 28, 2024
By News Updates

The Society for Renaissance Studies is pleased to announce that its 2024–2025 postdoctoral fellowships have been awarded to Jean David Eynard and Claire Turner for projects on the early modern senses. As always, we received an extremely high number of exceptional applications and we would like to congratulate all applicants on the quality of their research projects.


Jean David Eynard, ‘Hearing Colours, Seeing Noises: Sensory Disability and Synaesthesia in Seventeenth-Century England’


Jean David Eynard is a literary and cultural scholar. His doctoral research, ‘Discordant Poetics: Tasso to Milton’, demonstrates the importance of discord as a rhetorical and aesthetic principle in early modern literature, offering a unique perspective on the stylistic developments of the time. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2023.

For his SRS Postdoctoral Fellowship, Jean David’s next project will offer a reassessment of synaesthesia and sensory exchange in early modern England. During the seventeenth century, intellectuals became increasingly interested in the possibility ‘that Sound may be perceived by the Eye, Colour by the Ear, and that Sound and Colour may be smell’d and tasted’, as Margaret Cavendish put it. These ideas were firmly grounded in early modern discussions of disability; some argued for the presence of a ‘community’ between the senses that made it possible for disabilities caused by the loss of a specific sensory faculty (such as deafness or blindness) to be overcome through the use of a different one. After recovering this neglected chapter in the history of disability studies, Jean David will demonstrate how Restoration poets like Samuel Butler actively engaged with these discussions of the interchangeable nature of the human senses, offering satirical takes on them. Jean David contends that, by criticising the recurrent association between the different senses, Restoration poets simultaneously undermined the synaesthetic conceit as a rhetorical device, pointing to a significant shift in the aesthetic sensibilities of the period.


Claire Turner,Cancer, Identity, and the Senses in Early Modern England, c.1583-1699′


Claire Turner is an Historian of Medicine who received her PhD from the University of Leeds in 2024. Her thesis drew from a wide and diverse range of primary sources, from civic ordinances to medical treatises, and from first-hand accounts of plaguetime to its representation in a wide variety of other genres to explore the interactions between the senses during plague epidemics in early modern London.

Claire’s SRS postdoctoral project examines the significance of cancer in forging and altering identities in early modern England (c.1583-1699). It does so through the unique and increasingly popular lens of the senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. It will ask: in what ways was cancer experienced, perceived, and understood via the senses in the early modern period? How did cancer (including its treatment, palliative care, and symptoms) affect a person’s sense (and sensing) of self? And how did sensory experiences of cancer contribute to changes in how cancer patients were perceived by other people? The project will be split into three distinct sections: living with and dying from, treatment for, and prevention of cancer. Many historians of cancer have focused solely on cancers associated with womanhood, particularly breast and uterine cancers. In doing so, several other significant aspects of identity have gone unexamined, especially masculinity. This project will rectify this omission by centring on experiences of cancer in the male genital organs and gender-neutral cancers such as those of the face. By bringing together three fields of research – disease histories, cultural histories of identity, and sensory studies – this research sheds light on the significance of sensory experiences of illness in changing the way people perceived themselves and the people around them.


The one-year fellowships, currently valued at £15,000, come with free membership of the Society. Fellows will serve on the Society’s Council for the duration of their awards. Further details about the fellowships can be found here. The next call will go live in early 2025.  

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