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Emily Rowe

Emily Rowe

Doctoral Student in Literature and Linguistics.



Prof. Jennifer Richards, Dr Kate de Rycker and Prof. Karen Corrigan

Research project

'Words are but the images of matter': The materiality of language in early modern England

This thesis responds to the recent 'material turn' in early modern studies, addressing the ways that language was described as a material object in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. There are many material metaphors for language that writers employed in this period - food, clothing, plants. But this thesis focuses on one particularly rich metaphorical field for understanding how language was perceived and valued in this period: metallurgy. Words could be refined, distilled, coined; they could be 'tinny', 'silver-sounding', or 'golden'. Exploring early modern prose writers Thomas Nashe and John Lyly, this project engages with histories of ironworking, coinage, and alchemy as well as the literary and linguistic contexts to ask: why and how was metallurgy such a useful metaphor for language in this period?

Research interests

  • material culture
  • history of English and historical sociolinguistics
  • early modern prose and drama
  • Elizabethan London
  • rhetoric

Research activities

Placements and funding

I am in receipt of an AHRC Northern Bridge award, which fully funds my PhD for three years. I also recently undertook a competitive AHRC International Placement at the Huntington Library in California.


Last year I organised an international conference on pre-modern material culture: Rethinking Objects. This was funded by Northern Bridge, MEMS Newcastle, the Premodern Reading Group (Lancaster University), and the Society for Renaissance Studies. Rethinking Objects was a hugely successful conference, taking place at Newcastle University in September 2019. I have also organised a symposium of pre-modern objects (MEMS-funded) and co-organised an international conference, Symposium of Sound (Northern Bridge funded). I have presented at several conferences on topics such as social networks in Othello, metallurgical prose in Nashe, and iron wit in Lyly.

Academic background

  • BA English Literature, Aberystwyth University
  • MA Renaissance Literature, University of York
  • PhD English Literature and Linguistics, Newcastle University