Dr Elizabeth Swann, Hughes Hall



Biographical Information

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the natural philosophy strand of the ERC-funded project Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern England: The Place of Literature (co-hosted by the Faculty of English and CRASSH ), 2014-2019.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the literature and culture of early modern England, with a particular emphasis on epistemology, sensation, and affect. I am in the final stages of preparing for publication a book project titled Taste and Knowledge in Early Modern England: 'Honey Secrets', which explores which explores the relationship between the physical sense of taste, and taste as a term for different forms of knowledge production (including, but not limited to, aesthetic taste), in English literature and culture between c.1558 and 1685. Additionally, I am currently developing a new book project investigating points of contact between early modern natural philosophy, theology, and literature (especially the works of John Webster, John Donne, Thomas Browne, and Margaret Cavendish). Foci include: the relationship between knowledge, pain, and power; the difficulties of self-knowledge; and the place of death in the birth of the life sciences.

Selected Publications

Monographs in preparation:

Error and Ecstasy: The Experience of Knowing in English Literature, c.1509-1685.

Taste and Knowledge in Early Modern England: 'Honey Secrets'


Edited collection: Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, ed. Robin Macdonald, Emilie Murphy, and Elizabeth Swann (Routledge, 2017).

Introduction, Sensing the Sacred, ed. Macdonald, Murphy, and Swann (Routledge, 2017).

Essay: ‘God’s Nostrils: The Divine Senses in Early Modern England’, in Sensing the Sacred (Routledge, 2017).

Essay: ‘Senses of Self-Knowledge in Early Modern England’, in Knowing Faith: Literature, Belief and Knowledge in Early Modern England, ed. Subha Mukherji and Tim Stuart-Buttle (Palgrave, 2017).

Essay: ‘“To dream to eat Books”: Bibliophagy, Bees, and Literary Taste in Early Modern Commonplace Culture’, in Text, Food, and the Early Modern Reader: Eating Words, ed. Jason Scott-Warren and Andrew Zurcher (Routledge, 2017).

Article: ‘Scientia Potestas Est? Knowledge, Pain, and Power in Early Modern England’, under review.

Book reviews:

Review of Brian Cummings and Freya Sierhuis (eds.), Passions and Subjectivity in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2013). Renaissance Studies 30/3 (2016): 474–477.

Review of Wendy Wall, Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Early Modern Culture Online, forthcoming.