Until recently Rachel E Holmes was a Research Associate on the ERC-funded project Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern England: The Place of Literature. Her research focuses on transnational early modern law and literature, with a particular emphasis on the role of law in literary adaptation and the difficult status of consent in sexual matters.
Q. Rachel, you were a Research Associate on the Crossroads of Knowledge project for three years. What do you consider the highlight of your time here at CRASSH?
There have been so many! I have benefited greatly from the richness and diversity of the scholarship being undertaken here at CRASSH but, perhaps even more than that, from actively participating in its research culture and community. Sharing expertise with my fellow RAs on the Crossroads project and fellow early modernists on the Making Visible and Genius Before Romanticism projects, launching the CRASSH Mentoring Programme and Early Career Women’s Network with Alison Wood, and working with CRASSH members at all levels as part of the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment team have all been memorable experiences.
Q. During your research, did you stumble across something unexpected that you’d like to share with us?
The only specific instance that springs to mind is an unexpected sojourn into nineteenth-century American law. A surprise search result for William Shakespeare’s Othello turned up a federal case of adultery, intrigue, and murder, involving a United States Senator, his wife, and a United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. If this whets your appetite, I discuss this case and its early modern background at length in an article for a Special Issue of Forum for Modern Language Studies (54.1) I co-edited and introduced on early modern law, literature, and emotion.
Q. Where to next?
I am thrilled to be taking up the post of Teaching Fellow in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in the Department of English at University College London. While my own research has enjoyed the space and time to develop during my time on the Crossroads project, I am really looking forward to getting back into the classroom and to thinking with my students about the nuances and mechanics of early modern literature and culture.