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Eleanor Sutton

History, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Female Identity and the Seventeenth-Century English Broadside Ballad

I am a first-year PhD student based at the University of Birmingham, studying broadside ballads in seventeenth-century England.

Based in the field of gender history, my project aims to further our understanding of female identity and gender relations in seventeenth-century England by assessing social constructions of womanhood in seventeenth-century English broadside balladry.

Comprising text, imagery, and a tune, ballads were cheap, accessible, and popular throughout English society. The seventeenth century is considered the heyday of the genre, with new and revised songs near-constantly being produced. Balladists drew inspiration from a range of contemporary occurrences, from local scandal to disturbances that had nation-wide impact, such as the Civil War. Thus, ballads were particularly responsive to popular attitudes and values.

The projects aims to provide a comprehensive and socially representative analysis of women and gender relations as represented in broadside balladry, contributing to the pursuit of a greater understanding of the realities of early modern society. It takes its lead from recent work in the field which conceives of the broadside ballad as a holistic, ‘multi-media matrix’ rather than simply a literary artefact; the focus will therefore be on the ballad as part of the textual, oral, aural, visual, and performative culture of early modern England. 

Research Area

  • History

Other Research Interests

Gender relations

Women's history

Early modern society

Print culture

Visual culture

Soundscapes of early modern England


'Soundscapes in the Early Modern World' research network